What about the backstory?

Remember Chewbacca Mom?

When I first saw the video, I thought she was just a crazy lady (a kindred spirit, to be sure)
having some fun. Then I read her backstory of her current joy in spite of her background of homelessness, sexual abuse, feelings of worthlessness, and attempted suicide.   Suddenly, that maniacal laughter behind the mask didn’t just amuse me; it inspired me.

I’m guessing you have some backstories of your own about photos, furniture (Someone once told me there shouldn’t be a stick of furniture in your house that doesn’t have a backstory!), toys, songs, or even pieces of clothing–like all those T shirts you can’t bring yourself to give away or,  in my case, even a prom dress.

If you let them, these backstories just might inspire you to adventure.

I was desperate for a date to the prom my senior year—so desperate that my friends Steve and Nancy had to actually import a date from another country, because there were no viable local takers. Of course, they felt as though Foreign Young Man needed to be introduced to me before the big night, so they arranged a cozy little blind date for the four of us at a little burger joint across town.

I was terrified.

I learned that he had asked Steve what I looked like, and Steve replied, “Well, she’s no Miss America, but she’s a lot of fun!”

Talk about the kiss of death.

I just knew he would try to escape once he got a look at me, and I’d miss out on my prom, the biggest night of my senior year and possibly my entire existence.

However, he did not try to escape. We had a lovely time silently smiling at each other across the table, since he spoke only a smidgen of English. But that was fine with me, because I was going to spend the next couple of weeks engaged in one of the most exhilarating processes of my young life: getting ready for the prom. The preliminaries to this life-changing event, of course, involved lots of phone time with my girlfriends, talking about where and how we’d get our hair done and what kinds of dresses we wanted. And though getting my hair done was a thrill, the best part by far was shopping for formal wear.

Clothing miracles didn’t usually happen to me, but when I spotted a particularly magnificent piece of finery in the window of Nobbson’s, I knew it was mine: huge puffy sleeves, lace that obviously didn’t know when to quit, and row upon endless row of blush-colored crinoline that poofed out into a gigantic skirt.

I pretty much looked like Cinderella gone bad, wearing a great pink marshmallow that had exploded into a dress.

When Foreign Young Man picked me up on the big night, I was ready to have the time of my life. I floated to the car, sat in the front seat, and ended up with a large portion of that large dress in my face. But that was okay, because I knew my date was dazzled. Besides, we were on our way to the ball.

The dance floor was already crowded when we arrived, and we wasted no time in joining the fun. To my delight, I quickly learned that no matter how much English he couldn’t speak, “boogie” was a universal language.

After a couple of songs, however, he jerked his head toward the door and uttered his first completely English phrase: “Do you want to go to parking lot?”

Naively, I thought, “Parking lot? Did I leave something in the car? Was there a fire in the building? Was there something going on in the parking lot? Was there…ohhhh! Go to the parking lot and…. Oh man, no, I didn’t want to go to the parking lot and do that.”

The rest of the evening, we spent dancing, with him nudging my arm and asking me every half hour or so if I was now ready to “go to parking lot.” Obviously, I reasoned, he must have misinterpreted Steve’s definition of “a lot of fun.”

The good times rolled downhill from there. Since we weren’t communicating on the same wavelength, we stopped communicating at all. The rest of the night was, frankly, boring. He took me home early. I was completely disappointed and convinced that my entire adolescence had climaxed into a dull thud.

The truth is that I had a lot more fun getting ready to go than I had actually going to the event. Getting my hair done, shopping for a great dress, and talking with my friends about how it was going to be the Most Fun Night of Our Lives So Far were the fun times. As I look back on that night, I’m thankful I appreciated the journey to the ball, since there was a considerable lack of bibbity-bobbity-boo once we got there.

Shame on us (and we’ve all been here) when we are so consumed with the end product—the special event, the prize, the task all finished—that we forget to enjoy the view along the way.

And that’s what I remember every time I see that dress that still hangs in my closet.  I’ve worn it in plays, and used it as a Halloween costume and a prop for a number of talks I’ve given.

Always, always, it inspires me to enjoy the process, to take advantage of the adventures that are part of the journey to wherever.

So take a look at your stuff. Got a backstory for anything that’s lying around in your world? I’m guessing there’s truth somewhere in there, and an invitation to some unexpected adventure.

Consider doing a bit of a boogie with it.

Just–please–stay out of the parking lot, if you know what I mean.  Totally not worth it.

 

Want more where this came from? Check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “What about the backstory?

  1. Hey, at least you got to go to your prom and enjoy the process leading up to that. I, on the other hand, never got to enjoy that once in a teenage lifetime thrill of prom. Watching my girlfriends filled with excitement while I sat home with no “foreign young man”, still saddens me…even at 64. Eventually my “Prince Charming” did come knocking to take me to an Octoberfest dance…my hubby of 40 years.