Now that’s a likely story

    One expression that keeps making the rounds — usually because someone in print or on television uses it — is “the lion’s share.”
    We’ve even used it here, at the Optic, this bastion of correctiquette. Recently we used it to mean the largest part, the greater portion, as in “the chamber got the lion’s share of the funds.” Invariably, some groups and organizations are left grumbling because they only got a mouse’s share.


    Aesop, the fabulist who lived in Greece around 600 B.C., wrote a number of fables, including “The Lion’s Share.” Well, originally, the lion’s share was all of the booty. But custom and usage have led to the alternate definition appear in dictionaries, and all of the booty only applies to people like me. Remember, lions don’t share, or at least they didn’t used to.
    One story has it that Aesop was carousing around Thebes in the pre-Christian era, painting the town red, committing debauchery and downing quarts of Michelob. When he got home to an angry spouse who’d been waiting up for him, she said, “Aesop, you’ve been out late again. I’ve told you XXVIII times I don’t like being kept waiting.
    He of course made up a cock-and-bull story about staying up with a sick friend, and how his cell phone kept dropping calls and how he would have sent her an email or a text message, but he was out of range. To which his wife answered, “That’s a likely fable.”
    By definition, a fable, which generally includes lions, foxes, geese and meese, is a tale with a moral. It attempts to present a larger truth, even if we’re conditioned to equate “fable” with the fictitious.
    At the Optic, when Managing Editor David Giuliani tells Don Pace to write a story about Highlands, for example, I cringe. By “story” he means “article,” and that’s an entirely different thing. Wikipedia, the popular online dictionary, defines “story” as a narrative, a piece of literature, also known as a tale, a novel, short story, fable, fairy tale or tall tale. Way down in the definitions is “urban legend,” which most of us think of as a creation, usually passed on by a friend of a friend who swears that this woman who went to several tanning salons in one day actually microwaved herself, from the inside.
    So the credibility factor for “story” is shot because it too often connotes something made up. Maybe one day David will instruct Don to write a “totally truthful account” of something.
    Along these lines, then, I often need to explain to readers of Work of Art that my stories are not science fiction or urban legends. As I’ve explained before, I have a good memory for things that use to happen during the days when we use to eat dinosaurs. The Totally Truthful Accounts I’ve written about obviously are not examples of spinning yarns.
    Which leads me to the “Teatime with Oldtimers” program scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the CCHP on Bridge Street. The program, spearheaded by Petey Salman and Editha Bartley, will feature five old-timers, including the organizers, who will tell stories of early Las Vegas.
    But because by their very name — stories — they imply not Totally Truthful Accounts. This unrehearsed 90 minutes of recollections, we hope will trigger dormant memories about some of the people and events of Las Vegas’ past. Because it’s unrehearsed, I only have a vague idea of the topic(s) I will discuss. I assume the fellow participants, Ernie Quintana and Molly Garcia, who also grew up in the Meadow City, have TTA’s of their own, totally devoid of fiction. And if they don’t, that’s fine too.
    My childhood friend and I.C. Schoolmate, Cris Martinez, use to tell about the times when residents of Rociada would camp out in the woods and fall asleep around a campfire after an oldtimer told stories, usually entirely in Spanish. Never having had that kind of experience I wish I’d been in on some of these outings, as I love listening to others’ stories. Now I never asked Cris whether these stories the viejitos told were true, and it doesn’t matter. I still believe having the pleasure of hearing these accounts would have been enriching.
    I’m excited about the chance to discuss yesteryear as a handful of us tell our tales. Part of the plan, if the storytelling succeeds, is to rotate the participants, each time inviting an oldtimer-newcomer or two to join the group and to allow one or more original members to sit the next one out.
    Editha Bartley, who lives close to where Cris and his family grew up, has written a regular column for the Optic for several months. Most are about interesting and true events that occurred in her childhood. I hope she’s saved some good TTA’s for Tuesday’s program. So if you’re voracious for something veracious, come join us.
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    Did anyone notice the careless use of “use to” and the improper placement of “only” in this column? My TTA of this phenomenon is that it’s part of a scientific experiment which Lucille Van Horn turned me on to last week. The results of the “use to” and “only” experiment will be released in a later column.

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