Tell me a story

Once upon a time, there was a wise shoe repair guy in Dinkytown.

He stood behind the counter at Fast Eddie’s Shoe Repair, ready to help. I plunked down my problem—my brand-new espadrille sandal with its already unraveling heel—on his counter.

He squinted at the side of my shoe, then delivered the diagnosis. “It’s probably a factory defect, and it’ll start happening to the other one too.” He puffed out a breath. “I could fix this, but it’ll be ugly, and you might not want that.” He described his solution: he would need to tack large stitches throughout much of the shoe’s sole to make it hold together.

“Hm,” I said, shaking my head.

He set my shoes aside and folded his hands on the countertop. “Have you heard the story of The Three Little Pigs?”

Who hadn’t? “Yeah.”

He breezed through the synopsis like he hadn’t caught my answer. “You know what the straw house and your shoes have in common?”

“I get where you’re going.” I smiled, holding up a palm. “Say no more.”

But since I didn’t fear wolves blowing my sandals down, I probably wouldn’t take his advice to purchase quality footwear the next time either.

My laziness to package my sandals and trek to the post office to return them to the online seller drove me to the cobbler in the first place. I didn’t get the repair I sought, but my trip to Dinkytown wasn’t wasted. After all, I got Fast Eddie to tell me a fable during his work day.

And it was fun.


I’m faithful to visit the dentist and committed to seeing an optometrist, but it’s like trudging through wet sand in clogs to schedule myself an annual physical. Maybe setting up a date with my doctor will bring on a malady, I think. My thoughts are ridiculous, of course. So, every few years, out of guilt, I force my sluggish fingers to make the call.

Some time ago, I gritted my teeth and found my way back to the clinic on the appointed day. My only comfort was the entertainment value; my doctor is quirky and always wears a bow tie. I sat on the white paper of the exam table, alone and freezing, trying to distract myself by guessing what seasonal print would decorate the fabric of his tie.

After a long wait, the man knocked and entered, my chart in his hand. He peered at it, and my heart hammered. Of course I was being silly. I blew out a breath.

He flipped the folder shut, dropped it on the desk, and turned to me.

“There once was a young man who demanded his inheritance from his father,” he said, his pointer finger raised.

I fidgeted my hands on my paper-gowned lap. Where was this going?

“He took his money, went to a faraway land, and squandered all he had. Once his inheritance and friends were gone, he worked as a farmhand, eating what the pigs ate. But one day he came to his senses.”

My mind rushed to make connections. Of course I knew the story. But why was he telling it?

“The young man had an idea. He could go back to his father! And so he did. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, ran to him with open arms, and welcomed him home.” The doctor smiled.

“Okay.” I dragged out the word, squinting at him.

“It’s been three years since your last exam.” He opened his arms to me. “Welcome home.”

But since I didn’t see myself as the prodigal son, I probably wouldn’t take his advice to visit him every year after that either.

The storytelling over, my appointment was all business, and the allotted minutes ticked away. But for the first time, I didn’t think my trip to the clinic was wasted. After all, I got Dr. Bow Tie to tell me a parable during his work day.

And it was fun.


Life is short. If you see me around, tell me a story—and I’ll return the favor. We may not take each other’s advice, but one thing is sure: it’ll be fun.

Oh yeah. His tie was floral.

Oh yeah. His tie was floral.

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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.