How to tell a tall tale
Telling a good tall tale is an art, an art my grandfather Pop has perfected. Pop has gotten so good at telling tall tales that every story he tells becomes one–a sign of a true tall tale artist. It takes practice, but you too can learn to tell a good tall tale. Just follow these basic guidelines. I will use the story of how Pop met my grandmother Nonnie as an example.
1) Start with the original story. Usually true stories from your own life work best.
Nonnie and Pop went to different high schools when they were younger, but their mothers knew each other. One fateful day, the washing machine broke down at Nonnie’s house. So her mother–known to us as Toddie–decided to call up Pop’s mother–known to us as Grandmomma Hanna. Grandmomma Hanna offered to send over one of her sons to fix the washing machine. She just happened to send over Pop. Apparently he and Nonnie got along fairly well: not too long after that he invited her to his prom. The rest is history.
2) Now that you’ve decided on your story, embellish a bit. Careful! At this stage you still want the basic details of the story to be recognizable.
The version my grandfather told my mother and her sisters growing up is very similar to what actually happened, but there are a few important elaborations. According to Pop, Nonnie deliberately broke the washing machine knowing that he would come over to fix it if she did. As he fixed the washing machine, she stood by his side repeatedly dropping a handkerchief. It was all part of an evil plot to get him to ask her to the prom.
3) Continue to elaborate and add new details every time you tell the story. By the end, not even those who were present should be able to recognize the story.
By the time the grandkids came along, Pop had matured and perfected the tale of how he met Nonnie. By this point the washing machine was forgotten entirely, as was the prom. He was only two years old when he met Nonnie, and he actually met her on their wedding day. Nonnie was supposed to be marrying someone else and Pop was the ring bearer for the wedding. However, the senile old preacher got confused and married Nonnie to Pop instead. Since Pop was so cute, Nonnie didn’t say anything. And Pop, being only two years old at the time, was entirely too young and innocent to understand what was happening.
If you follow these basic guidelines you will be well on your way to telling a good tall tale!