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2002-05-03 3:20 p.m.

My team at work went out to lunch today, and we all sat together and talked about this and that, and that and this. I mostly talked—mostly listened, actually—to this guy from work named N. The primary reason I know him is that he is my boss's boss, so he talks with me from time to time about various workish stuff. N. talks at our team meetings and writes things on white boards with smelly pens, and, when our boss is out of the office for some reason, N. checks in with us from time to time to make sure everything is ok.

Sure—good manager and a good guy, etc. But, what struck me most about N. today was something not–at–all work–related—his stories.

The subject matter of his stories is net necessarily intriguing on its own. Countless other men began their lives as young boys in England, or had childhoods full of hardship, or lived in London, or made crappy German–sounding techno with a collection of analog synths, and so on. With his stories, the magic is not in the details of the who, or the what, or the where, but instead in the how.

How can I describe the how? It is not the presence of something he does or says, or some trait he possesses, but rather what is missing—censorship, self–consciousness, self–awareness. He tells stories the same way an open window tells you about the sights and smells and sounds of what it is like outside on a warm day in the middle of May—curtains pulled far apart, clapboards thrown wide, the lazy breeze letting itself inside. He tells stories like an open window to somewhere else. It is as if the limiting, censoring, and self–defeating floodgates which we as people usually insert between our brains and our mouths are simply missing.

A picture, a time–slice, painted in this way is captivating, familiar, and honest.

And it makes me wonder. Why don't we value storytelling more? Why does nobody offer to pay him—and others who walk around unaware of their gift—a liveable sum of money to simply talk?

And it makes me wonder. Where are his floodgates? His closed windows, his drawn blinds, his beaurocratic team of internal censors? Wherever they are, I want to send mine there too.



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