|Moth stage setup at the Circus Bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan|
I attended my first Moth StorySLAM in Ann Arbor solely to listen. To see if the Moth scene, famous for its NPR show, could be an invigorating hangout for a struggling writer like me. People stand up and tell true stories without script or notes. Five minute time limit. Forgiving the beer and vulgarity, it is a communal ritual strangely reminiscent of the Mormon testimony meetings of my childhood.
I arrived 90 minutes early to ensure myself a seat. I intended only to listen. 45 minutes before showtime the announcer said, "We only have four storytellers signed up so far. That's really shitty." Awkward laughter from all of us who showed up only to listen. "The show won't start until we have ten storytellers signed up."
For several slow minutes, I balked. Then, finally, I signed up to tell a story. After all, the theme for this StorySLAM was "Song." I had plenty of possibilities. The moment I committed, butterflies started having an orgy in my stomach. Not an elegant analogy but I want you to get a feel for the types of stories that were told. I also want you to sense the raw beauty of our emcee's banter.
"How many of you are at Moth StorySLAM for the first time?" asked our kickass emcee Satori Shakoor. I and many others raised our sheepish hands. "You all are Moth virgins." She said this with a hearty and inclusive smile. She ensured us we were all in this storytelling experience together.
Names were drawn from a hat. And the orgasm-enjoying butterflies in my stomach predicted my name would be drawn first. They were correct.
I shuffled up to the stage, picked a smiling blurry blond at the distant back of the bar, and told her about the time I interrupted a rehearsal at the Purple Rose Theatre Company and sang the song "Simple Gifts" onstage. The blond, and many others, laughed at the moments I hoped they would. I surfed the rush as best I could. Then I sat down, became part of the crowd, no longer a Moth virgin.