Have you ever told someone a story about an experience from your past? Did you reveal what your feelings were at the time? If so, then you have created a memoir story, whether or not you have written it on paper.
Next weekend, May 31-June 1, I will attend Arkansas Writers’ Conference in Little Rock, www.arkansaswritersconference.org, and I’ve been invited to speak on a panel about memoir-writing. There will be four of us on the panel, and each of us will present something we’ve learned while writing and publishing our own memoir stories.
The point I plan to make is that each of us has stories. Writing a memoir is as simple as retelling experiences that made an impression on us. If we tell each event in “story form,” with an opening that captures attention, a middle that builds to a climax, and a resolution at the end, then our memoirs will be even more interesting to our readers. If we include dialogue, then our story truly comes to life.
Today I will share a memoir story that I recently read at our Village Writers’ Club’s annual event, L’Audible Art. Hope you’ll enjoy this!
THE ICE CREAM CAPER
Madelyn F. Young
Normally, one would never think that buying ice cream could become a criminal activity.
During the summer of 1979, my husband, Robin, and I and our three kids vacationed in Gulf Shores, Alabama. We shared a large, two-story condo with Robin’s brother, Paul, his wife, Laura, and their four children. For one glorious week we prepared meals together, played on the beach, swam in the gulf, and took short excursions to nearby attractions.
One afternoon we drove to Pensacola, Florida, to browse at one of the malls. However, it wasn’t long before the kids became restless, so we took a break in an ice cream shop.
The children, Laura, and I settled at several small tables while Robin and Paul approached the counter. They rattled off our orders and handed the girl their money.
She disappeared into the back, but when she returned, her hands were empty.
“I’m sorry, sir.” She gave my husband a stern look. “Your twenty dollar bill is counterfeit. I’ve called Security.”
“What? Counterfeit?” Robin shook his head. “No way.”
“I checked it with our detector, sir. It’s bogus.”
At that moment, a uniformed officer appeared on the scene. “Sir, you’ll have to come with me.”
“I’ll come too,” Paul said.
Stunned, I stared as the burly officer hustled my husband out the door.
“Where did they go?” I asked the girl behind the counter.
“The mall’s security office.”
I turned to Laura. “Surely they’ll be able to explain this was an accident. We didn’t have any idea that bill was bogus.”
That’s when our twelve-year-old son, Marty, spoke up. “Don’t worry, Mom. Daddy’s been in jail before.”
My mouth fell open. “What? Where did you hear that?”
“Daddy told me.” Marty grinned, obviously proud he knew something that maybe he shouldn’t. “One time he had to spend a night in jail because he and another guy were driving drunk.”
Laura stifled a laugh. I glanced at the girl behind the counter, now all ears.
“Honey, that was a long time ago—way before we were married. Your dad was a very young man, and he learned his lesson. He never did that again.”
Marty nodded. “I know, but this still won’t be his first time.”
Fortunately, my errant husband managed to avoid a second incarceration. When he and his brother returned, we all cheered.
“Everything’s fine,” Robin said. “They checked my wallet, and I had two more counterfeit twenties. But I told them I must have received those bills when I picked up our travel money from my bank back home. They believed me. Even let me keep the bills so I could exchange them later.”
“Well, thank goodness you have an honest face.”
“Yeah, and it didn’t hurt that Paul here mentioned I was a director of a mental health center and he was a Methodist minister.”
We all laughed.
One of the kids spoke up. “Can we get some ice cream now?”
Believe me, double-dip cones never tasted so good!