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Tale of Shovelbird Intrigues Teenagers – Or So I Hoped

Note: I survived the storytelling and much to my delight, was presented with the sketch you see below – a perfect rendition of the Shovelbird, drawn by Daniel Mayo, student at Monarch School Project. 

Shovelbird     I’m about to go off and tell this wild tale about a Shovelbird to a bunch of high school kids whom I’m sure could care less about me ’n a dull black Shovelbird from the thriving metropolis of Pinedale, Wyoming. How did I get myself into this mess?  Oh well, what the heck – It’s only for a few minutes. What could go wrong in a few minutes?

     To distract them from my less-than-amusing story-telling skills, I made this map of the United States. Also, I thought some of them might not know exactly where Pinedale, Wyoming is. I had nightmares about drawing a map until I woke up and it hit me. The United States is basically a rectangle, right? So just draw a big rectangle and draw a little star where Pinedale is.  No problem.

     I got lucky. At breakfast this morning I noticed the placemat under my plate was the same shape as the United States. I stowed it in my purse and walked out, hoping no one would notice the white paper placemat sticking up out of my too-small purse.

     Soon as I got home, I cut out a white Maine (for the snow) and a green Florida (for the alligators) and a brown Texas (for the dirt).  I Scotch-taped Maine to the top right corner of the placemat, and Florida to the lower right corner. And Texas went to the bottom of the map, slightly to the left. Which I’m sure a lot of Texans wouldn’t appreciate.  I showed off my map to the guy sitting in my living room. He smiled.

     Then I went back and drew a big blue square in the western middle of the map and labeled it Wyoming.  I marked Pinedale halfway up the middle of the western side of Wyoming. It occurred to me the kids should know where Washington, D.C. is - being it’s so important to our country - so I marked that too, even tho’ it doesn’t have anything to do with my story.

     All that was left was to mark the Shovelbird’s flight plan from Pinedale, Wyoming, to San Diego, California, via Las Vegas, where not having any money, he lost his feathers at the blackjack table.

     So now, in a couple of hours, I have to go and intrigue these kids with my Shovelbird story. I hope I don’t forget the ending. I have a pretty good beginning – the moral and all. Two morals. The first is: “Be careful who you marry.”  The other is: “If you think it will be boring, it probably will be – unless you run into a Shovelbird.” I think they’ll like that last one.

     I hope so.  I sure don’t want to stand there facing a classroom of bored teenagers who’d rather be at the closest fast-food joint with their buddies, so I’m bringing the Shovelbird along. Maybe he can charm them.

     Why did I volunteer to do this? I must’ve been crazy! “Oh sure! I’ll tell a story. No problem.” What got into me? I’m a writer, not a story-teller.

     But on the other hand… What if I tell a riveting, hilarious story? What if the kids hang on my every word? Yeah, what if I win the lottery?

     I must be crazy.

     But since I am, I’m gonna do one thing right. I’m going to give those kids their money’s worth. The story might fall flat. The Shovelbird might not win them over. But at least they’ll get to see a funny lady holding out this iron bird that looks like a crumpled shovel, pointing to a map made out of a placemat and laughing because she thought she could tell a story and now she’s stuck with a room full of kids, telling a story that only a poor misshapen Shovelbird could love.

     Boy - won’t they have a story to tell when they get home?!

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