Feeling a bit awkward knowing I’d be sitting at a table alone, strangers greet me and smile as if I’ve known them for years. I ordered a beer to feed my courage and one of those smiling greeters came over to my table and asked me with a serious face on,
“Are you in the Hat yet?”
The faces filling the room range quite widely in age, from fresh out of college to twilight years. Hipsters sat next to small town grandmothers of four. Brooding writers and social activists shared tables with Vietnam veterans and patrons bearing bulging Afros or stretched ear lobes. All of them gathered to hear and share stories. True stories.
An exuberant MC, Lance Colley reminds us of the topic of the evening, “Taboo” and to stay true. From the black velvet Hat he pulls the names of the chosen and up each teller goes. They fill the room with laughs, tears, sighs and my personal favorite, the uncomfortable squirm.
My favorite teller of the evening elicited this squirm. Her story surrounded the purchase of an intimate nature that is rarely spoken of (at least in mixed company)…..a menstrual cup. She could have been crowned queen of unabashed honesty for even saying those words into a public microphone. Add to it that she’s a regular and perhaps we should skip the ceremony and go straight to her everlasting reign as Empress. Or is it that level of comfort with this crowd and this process that allows it to be just another evening gathered around the campfire?
A few story topics included:
-A psychic prophecy coming to tragic fruition
-A brush with homelessness juxtaposed with suburban American gluttony
-A college student finds that praise for one’s writing can often backfire
-Finding kindness and a kindred spirit in a foreign land
-80s night with a jumbotron sized misunderstanding
A substantive plot in a story helps but the magic lies in the telling. One teller stopped and gave as an aside, “I did not intend for my life to be filled with salacious encounters in public restrooms, but that is the life that God has chosen to give me.”
Whether or not you feel you have a grand tale within you or the courage to tell it, you should attend. Hearing these tales connects us as fellow villagers. Such a connection is crucial at a time when we are often too engrossed in our music, games, or social media status to notice who our fellow villagers even are.
This is also a wonderful excuse to frequent the iconic Manuel’s Tavern.
The Hat wants you and you want in the Hat.
Carapace happens on the 4th Tuesday of the month at Manuel’s Tavern @ 602 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, Georgia @ 7:30p.m.
-Mauree "Mo" Culberson