Put your name in the bag. That's what you do at the Moth Storytelling events if you want to be selected to tell a story in front of an audience, have it recorded, and, if it's really, really good, maybe have it shared on The Moth Podcast.
I put my name in last night at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. The theme was "BUSTED: Caught red-handed by THE LAW, your mama, your boss or the security camera! Tell us about being sent up the river, to the clink, the principal's office or..." you get the point. I planned to tell a story of a time in college when I got caught climbing the Lincoln Memorial.
I really wanted to tell it. See, I'm a huge fan of the Moth and told a story six months ago. The whole experience was a rush, nerve racking and--standing on stage, under bright lights and in front of a few hundred people with no notes--terrifying. I did OK. The story got a lot of laughs, a big round of applause at the end, and I learned a lot about my responses to stress. I know that the more times I get up there the better I'll get. And if I can learn to overcome fears in this arena, I know it will pay off elsewhere too.
This night though, it wasn't meant to be. I had a great time listening to everyone else's stories, but when the tenth and final name was called and it wasn't mine, I slunk down in my chair a bit. "Next time!" my wife said.
On our way home, our Uber driver, Rocco, asked what show we'd seen. I told him about the Moth, that I'd put my name in, wasn't selected, and about the nerves and all that.
"Why don't you tell it now?" he said.
"Nah, you don't want to hear it."
"No, I do," he said. "I love stories. Let me hear it."
My wife and sister called out from the back seat, "Oooh! No pressure! No pressure!"
I looked at Rocco, liking him immediately, and laughed at the situation. Then, I let out a deep exhale and for the next 5 minutes of our ride, recounted to Rocco the Uber driver, my wife and sister, how I was busted for climbing into good old Honest Abe's lap.
The experience was just as satisfying as if I'd told it at the Moth, almost more so because of its intimacy. It's one thing to be on the stage but another to be one on one, on the spot with a stranger.
And the best part? Rocco gave me 5 Stars.