by Ex Fabula blogger Becca Segal

photos by Kat Berger

If you didn’t believe in love when you arrived at the Bay View Brew Haus on February 15th, 2011 (which is, if you weren’t aware, the day after Singles Appreciation Day), you sure as heck and Holy Cupid left feeling sure that it’s out there somewhere! And for the (happily) surprising number of EX FABULA VIRGINS we had in the audience, we can at least be certain that there was some storytelling deflowering if nothing else! Keep that word of mouth going! Ex Fabula is where you find love (maybe) and (for sure) great stories and local beer.

DJ Hostettler started the evening out right singing the anthem of the Self-Proclaimed Dorks of the World: Seeing the one that got away…again. When you’re no longer dorky. We’ve all been there: Suspenders. Funny hair. Dressed by Mom. Not attractive to the girl or guy you want. Until laaaaater in life, as DJ illustrated for us, when you’re the New You, flanked by two hotties, when what’s-her-face who used to make your heart pound walks in the door, sees you in your new state of awesomeness, and says “Wow, DJ, you really turned into a MAN.” Sha-ZING. That’s how Valentine’s day SHOULD be!

Scott Heaton, the rightly-crowned Audience Favorite Storyteller of the evening, somehow crammed about 10 hours worth of brilliant material into a coherent, energy-driven story about helping a friend through an emotionally traumatic time. The story? He and a recently single girl (space) friend drove from Milwaukee to Chicago “because we could,” making good on an offer from a friend to come visit…at 11pm…and successfully cock-blocked some snazzy Valentine’s Day hotel room action. But it cheered up his friend! Moral of the story? Well, he taught us all a worthy lesson: Valentine’s Day can be about heartbreak or love, but it can be about friendship, too.

Mark Steidl told us a tale of “Giselle,” the woman “carved by Rodin…if Rodin were carving REALLY HOT GIRLS.” He used a swanky courting system: a rose and an anonymous note at her door the first night, 2 roses and a note the second night, and a very un-anonymous visit by himself in person the third night…and Hot Rodin Girl said yes! However, when Mark’s  physics major friend Tim used the same system, Tim learned that you can’t apply physics to real-life romance…1 date + 1 date does equal 2 dates, but on a small liberal arts college campus, it also means 2 scorned double-booked women!!

Lynn Celek’s Valentine’s day lesson to us was that sometimes you just have to move to South America to find love. Or Portugal. Whatever. As long as they don’t speak English as a first language. And have gay bars. Full of gay men. And big heart balloons. In the gay bars. Which is where she found herself in her distracted state that led to her realizing she was sitting alone, in a gay bar, on Valentine’s Day! “Europe has like, dibs on Jesus” so she figured there would be more of an obvious show to tip her off that it was SAINT Valentine’s Day, but you never truly know until you move to South America. Or Portugal. Whatever.

Kevin Barry. Oh, Kevin Barry, those cosmos. “Those cosmos, like, kicked me in the crotch” when he found the woman who, 7 months later, would still discuss the mating habits of garden gnomes with him. And play Nintendo. Sometimes love is about finding the one who makes you laugh…and can make you laugh back! Or finding that person with whom you can envision yourself having lunch for the next six millennia. Which is what Jonathan West and Paula Souzzi found in each other after they resolved their issues with “community theatre acting.” Lines being a bit blurry about who pursued whom, we discovered that it didn’t matter what was in the past, their love is about looking (and lunching) into the future.

The past, however, can also be a window to the present, which we discovered when Rebecca Segal told her parents’ story of “love at second sight,” and the reluctant lesson she gleaned from that: The boys to whom she didn’t want to give a valentine because they were gross and mean to her might someday become her husband. Eugh.

Brian Jacobson and Kristia Wildflower finished the evening off with more moving tales of heartache and friendship. Brian told a tale of kindness to strangers, when the man who had looked at his apartment ages ago called him one night from the mental health ward, where he ended up when, desperate and lovesick after a broken engagement, he tried to end his life. And thanks to Brian’s kindness and care, he helped with the lesson that no valentine is worth more than your own life.

Kristia’s tale of needing multiple personalities to satisfy her various flings ended the evening off with a triumphant decision that she didn’t need a father, she didn’t need to be a mother, she needed a LOVER. And she found her bad boy and he’s her Six-Foot-Two, Eyes of Blue…Self Tattoo Bad Boy Valentine. And thank Cupid for that!

Sad you missed these great stories in person? Your next chance to experience the Ex Fabula magic is Wednesday March 16 at Stonefly in Riverwest. The theme is “Emergency”, and it’s your 2nd to last chance to be crowned Audience Favorite and earn yourself a spot at the ALL STARS event in June, so be there by 7:45 to put your name in the hat for a chance to tell a story! See you then! [slideshow]