by Ex Fabula bloggers Kimberly Ousley and Hanna Gichard

Season five continues to thrive. This month Ex Fabula returned to the Times Cinema to uncover what exactly defines a ‘Bonus’. The always lovely and delightful Leah Delaney served as emcee for the evening. 

While searching for items at a second-hand store Lisa Erin Brown stumbled upon a pouch. Realizing that it was a forgotten treasure of childhood past she searched inside, discovered contact information and contacted the previous owner.  Her bonus? The gentleman returned her phone call and during their conversation, Lisa learned he was a famous musician. The two set a date & time to meet. Upon meeting he thanked her for returning the childhood item to him. He was so impressed with Lisa that he gave her a first pressing of one of his band’s records.

Mark Steidl worked at a horse ranch when he was in high school. One day he learned that the horse ranch was going to get rid of some bunnies. He decides to keep one and use it to prank his vice principal, whose nicknamed happened to be ‘rabbit’. Early one morning, with the help of his best friend, the orphaned rabbit is placed in his office, complete with a sad but cute note. Later in class instead of hearing the usual daily announcements, the school is treated to a somewhat unamused vice principal. He reads the note and offers up the bunny to whoever wanted it. The bonus? Mark’s best friend was blamed for the entire incident, leaving him in the clear.

Sometimes a bonus finds us even in the midst of heartbreak. In 2001 Adam Carr’s father learned he had a brain tumor. In spite of the diagnosis his father surpassed expectations and went on to live for another year. Adam shared the positive and negative moments that were experienced during that time. From the family cruise to playing ping-pong and attending basketball games with his father. Planting tomatoes and holding his father close after a seizure occurred. The memories made and the quality time the family enjoyed during that year was the best bonus Adam could ever ask for.

Tom Shanahan‘s bonus was right here at Times Cinema! As a youngster he and his buddies used to sneak in after hours to chow down on candy and hang out in the projection room. One particular day, while sitting in the projection room they heard a knock on the door. The person on the other side of the door requested that they step out. Not taking things so seriously Tom and his fiends decided to sneak out the opposite door and ran right into the police. Unbeknownst to the teens they had set off a silent alarm that had been installed due to a safe burglary in the neighborhood. The group was taken into custody. Double bonus: while being escorted outside Tom notice a familiar face looking on; his mother, who had witnessed everything from across the street.

Rob Harrington is not your typical party guy. During a ski trip to France with a friend, they encounter a pair of beautiful women while drinking in a bar. The four dine together and the women invite them to go dancing. The two men happily agree. They can’t believe their luck that these women want to hang out with them. Dumbfounded by their luck and quick ascension into popularity, Rob and his friend continue to party long into the night with strangers and beautiful women. The next day the two men decided to go skiing, only to discover that they do not care for it nor were they good at it. Rob and friend decide to go to a club that evening, only to be turned away. Back to reality.

What does it take to become an American citizen? According to Paul Lewis it all boils down to forms and money. Having been in the States for some time Paul decided to obtain citizenship. He was amazed, baffled and amused at the process. The immigration office was similar to that of a local department of motor vehicle.  He compared the citizenship tests questions to those on the green card application questions. Paul reviewed the written test, sharing how he was required to answer questions like if he was an habitual drunkard or a sexual deviant.  Paul concluded that any ‘D’ student with sufficient knowledge of American history could become an American citizen, provided that person also has the funds. He is now a proud citizen.

Linda Muza shared a very touching, mindful tale. As a child her family shopped at thrift stores. Linda enjoyed picking up books and came across a happiness guide with a girl’s name scrawled inside.  She never could have been prepared for the “bonus” she found: a sad tale of abuse documented in the back pages. Horrified and saddened at what she had read, Linda almost put the book back on the shelf but decided to keep it.  Something about the unknown girl’s bravery & perseverance struck a chord in Linda. It made her question what exactly what life was about. To this day, Linda still has the book. She says it opened her eyes and is her reminder that life is a precious gift, a bonus.

When she was four years old Becca Segal’s friend told her that all red heads were aliens. This upset her very much, especially because her mother was a redhead and, like most kids that age, loved her very much. She was scared and she cried. Since he decided to mess with her head it was only fair she do the same. To get back at him she decided to tell him that her older brother died in the war. What war he would ask. She’d simply reply, “You know. The war.” Scared he left her alone for the time being. On another occasion Becca’s friend thought it would be a good idea to swallow a quarter. She decided to mess with his head once again and tell him that he was going to die since he swallowed the coin.

Jeanette Arellano is a simple gal. Her idea of a bonus is a private bathroom that locks. Her former residence was great, except that it had community bathrooms. One night after partaking in libations, bladder ready to explode Jeanette needed to visit the restroom. The only available restroom, which was in less than stellar conditions, did not have a proper lock on it. She was struggling to keep the stall door shut, while also having a losing battle in trying to remove her tights. Unfortunately, she lost the battle. Jeanette returned to her apartment and went to bed. That following morning some of the residents discovered the mess in the bathroom and the blame was placed on the males.

At the end of the night, congratulations went to Tom Shanahan for his tale of teenage shenanigans. A special thank to guest story-teller Nic Ortiz spending the evening with us. Thanks to all of our storytellers for getting up there and sharing with us all. Thanks to Leah Delaney for being such a lovely emcee. Ex Fabula appreciates all of the volunteers and sponsors for their time, efforts and continued support. Thanks to the Times Cinema for their continued support and for the bonus: a free movie showing after the story slam was over.

Not enough Ex Fabula in your life? We have podcasts on iTunes (http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ex-fabula) and you can tune into WMSE 91.7 on the last Friday of every month at 12pm for our radio show. Visit www.exfabula.org and join the mailing list to learn more about Ex Fabula and get bonus information regarding upcoming events. Visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ExFabula) and follow us on Twitter (Twitter, @ExFabula, www.twitter.com/ExFabula).