Four score and several years ago, a great American author sent a letter to his senator in Washington D.C. suggesting that a national holiday be adopted specifically “to forever honor and reinvigorate the uniquely American appreciation for the art and tradition found in the telling of stories.”
The senator was intrigued by the idea. While he was the recipient of hundreds of letters annually from his constituents promoting causes, favorite hobbies, the end to particular diseases, or an awareness of civil ills, this particular one interested him.
Early in his term, the senator had been given the ideas for the adoption of National Pantry Stocking Day, National Horseshoe Toss Day, National Angina Awareness Day, and National Report Your Suspicious Neighbor Day. He was unable to get co-sponsorship for three of these four. It was well known that without at least one supporting member in the Senate, it was nearly impossible to get any traction on the senate floor for the adoption of a “national.”
National Angina Awareness Day, the senator’s first promising “national,” did garner some early support with not one, but two, senators pledging themselves to sponsorship toward its adoption.
On the morning of the vote, the senator was feeling a sense of unbridled confidence. This was the first “national” with his name on it — as top, thereby the named, sponsor. With an easy vote, the senator would solidify his reputation as a one who “got things done” in Washington.
The majority of senate assembled and, in what the senator should have seen as a harbinger of disaster, a routinely absent peer came crashing into the chambers, smelling of stale smoke and whiskey, just as the proposed holiday was being read aloud.
In a voice far too loud not to be heard by Vice President John Garner, a Texan who described his role as VP “not worth a bucket of warm piss,” the late arriving senator said to the members of the 73rd Congress, “It seems to me an empty offering. Not a day goes by when I fail to be aware of many vaginas.”
National Angina Day flickered and self-extinguished amidst the cackles and uproarious laughter of the eighty-some men on that bright April morning. It wouldn’t be until ten months later that the senator believed he had received a suggestion of merit which could not be turned into a joke.
With any luck, he thought, National Storytelling Day would also serve to supplant the not so complimentary nicknames he endured in the interim, the worst of which he heard at least weekly: “Senator Vag-Man.” Unluckily the senator’s two-syllable last name ended in “-man”: the snappy moniker was both easy to create and remember.
On that February 16th, the senator had co-sponsorship for adoption of National Storytelling Day. And, blessedly, the trouble-making peer was, reportedly, in rehab. The once-disgraced senator held his breath and bit a small line of flesh off the back of his lower lip during the reading of his proposal and the subsequent unanimous up vote.
Upon getting the word, via telegraph, that National Storytelling Day had been adopted, the author sent the senator a signed copy of his most well-received novel.
Shamefully, and perhaps somewhat hypocritically, the senator wasn’t much for stories — oral or written. He put it on his senate office bookshelf, where it sat untouched, until the senator’s unexpected and fatal heart attack four months later.
(The irony of the manner in which the senator died was not lost on his peer who had coined the embarrassing “Vag-man” taunt. Posthumously, he made it something of a personal mission to threaten the assignment of an equally embarrassing nickname to anyone he heard using the “Vag-man” slur. He would later go on to admit, in his (ghost-written) autobiography, that his biggest regret was his quick wit which often led to others being the brunt of his sharp sense of humor.)
So, in honor of Senator Vag-man, his nemesis, and the 73rd Congress, I invite you to sit down with an audience and tell a story today. Happy National Storytelling Day.
P.S. The above is a story I created this morning on one cup of coffee. The United States has never adopted a National Storytelling Day. Senator Vag-man did not die of angina. The only true facts were those relative to V.P. Garner.
It’s not hard.