Ex Fabula’s Spectacular show at Turner Hall Ballroom featured veteran storytellers sharing various tales of Bad Company. Megan McGee and Dasha Kelly shared emcee duties for the evening, delighting the crowd with their charms and sharing some fun facts about our storytellers. 

Recreational sports enthusiast Andrea Hoeschen tells the audience how last year she volunteered to assist in coaching her son’s elementary school basketball team. Rosters in tow, practices and games underway Andrea began to notice that the teams were structured quite differently. Her team, the B team, was considered less than stellar when compared to the other team. “I’ll play the hand I was dealt”. The team’s movie moment came during the final game of the season. Surviving regulation time, triple overtime, and the loss of two players finally leads to…a shoot out. “Who does a shoot-out?” Andrea asks. Volleying between misses on both sides, resentful but superb player Danielle, steps up to their free throw line and… “Swish”, says Andrea. The opposing team’s final shoot out member stepped up for his shot…and missed. Andrea’s bench erupts with glee. The kids rush towards one another, placing their hands together and proclaimed “Badger Wolves!”

Donte McFadden was trying to concentrate on completing his dissertation while also dealing with a particularly uncomfortable living situation. While at his uncle’s funeral, his mother bumped into her childhood crush. An observer commented on the pair and stated to Donte’s brother, “That’s going to be your future step-father.” At the time he simply brushed the words off but admits, “I should’ve been paying more attention.” The gentleman starts coming around more and more, causing feelings of awkwardness from Donte and his brother, who weren’t quite used to this addition to their trio. The relationship continued to progress and eventually his mother & her beau begin to look for new housing, causing Donte to question, “Hey, what about me?” Donte & his brother assist with their move. His brother ends up disappearing to a Halloween party, leaving him high and dry. The gentleman attempted to bond with Donte on a car ride back to the new residence but he wanted to be elsewhere. Fast forward to 2013, Donte has moved out and successfully completed his dissertation in, making himself and his mother proud. He revealed that while he was finishing his dissertation his mother had began untangling herself from the gentleman, and eventually ending the relationship.

Lifetime Milwaukee resident Michael Heider’s tale takes us up to northern Wisconsin. He fondly recalls a memorable spring night of firsts as a nine year old boy: his first time going with family members packed into the back of a ’54 Chevy. The kids enjoyed activities like catching bluegills, while the adults enjoyed fishing, for walleye in particular. Jumping ahead to the late eighties Michael is working as a cameraman. He was going to cover a story up north regarding spear fishing methods. Michael recalls much controversy and feelings of unfairness, causing riots to break out near the boat landings and ice fishing holes. “At one point every available cop in the state of Wisconsin was sent up North, to these boat landings”, he says. Protective barriers were created to separate the opposing sides and the media. Neither side would concede. Michael had serious concerns about his safety & well being, being stuck in that middle ground. Looking into the viewfinder of his camera Michael recalls eerie looks in the eyes of the individuals present at these riots. “Suddenly things became personal, and that was the worst company I was ever in.”, he says. He has only been up north twice since covering that story.

Ever try to get something done and, well, can’t? A few years ago while working at an outreach event at a small town library, Cindy Grover recalls needing to make a visit to the ladies room. She entered, only to find a young gentleman shaking the door on the stall at the end of the row. Unsure if he is trying to help or harm the young woman inside, she decides to intervene. He indicates that something is wrong so she attempts to check on the female herself, receiving no response. She instructs the young man to call for help. He panics and Cindy goes to alert the front desk of the situation. Returning to the restroom Cindy finds that the young man has begun to pull his friend from underneath the stall. Cindy abruptly stops him. Another gentleman, who had overhead Cindy earlier, enters the restroom. He offers to help and calls 911 while the young man takes the female’s purse and leaves. The paramedics arrive soon and the young woman is eventually taken to the hospital. Relieved to finally be alone Cindy again proceeded to go about her business but is yet again interrupted by another strange male, this time a police officer. She obliges, he leaves, and she can finally relieve herself.

Matthew Konkel’s bad company came from within. At the age of twenty-five he decided to not have any children and to get a vasectomy. He knew early on that he wasn’t interested in “cultivating any garden saplings”. He was more than content in letting other people in the world procreate. Not to say that Matthew doesn’t have tremendous respect for parents, he does, yet he could no longer handle the stress of the situation of worrying about unplanned situations. After visiting several reluctant urologists, Matthew settled on his brother’s reveals that his held onto this secret for some time, only recently revealing it to his parents a few years ago, who were not at all surprised by his decision. Reactions from women he was dating ranged from stares of disbelief to expressions of “You what?” to “That’s great!” Admitting that he has made some bad choices in the past, Matthew admitted that he doesn’t regret his decision. He’s confident that he would’ve been a good parent but was wise enough to know that he wouldn’t have been all in. “And that’s not good,”, he says, “because then there’s a chance that I’d be the bad company.”

Bayview native Deserae Constantineau’s run in with bad company came during the summer of her junior-senior year in high school. She and her best friend Julie were good girls who split their time between working and babysitting; cruising and hanging out on Julie’s porch. A group of boys began to come around and Julie began to develop feelings for Ronnie, one of the boys & coincidentally the boy next door. Ronnie was not a good guy. One night Ronnie & Adam, another young man, approached the two friends, with Ronnie asking Julie to meet them around the corner. Julie insists that Deserae go along with the request. Deserae, understandably reluctant, complies with her friend. A car whips down the alley and the girls to get in. The group drives to another friend’s house. Ronnie, when attempting to sneak thru the window, is greeted with a shotgun in the face from Dino’s father. “Run!” Dino yells. Everyone takes off running, leaving Deserae in the dust. “I don’t run, I have arthritis, have since I was a kid.” She hides behind a garbage can in the alley, praying to God that her parents didn’t find out. She can’t wait to share the tale with Julie’s daughter.

The final storyteller of the evening was Korey Conner. He and a friend find themselves stranded in Cairo after a brief shopping trip. Stuck they decided to kill time by visiting the pyramids. After bartering with a taxi driver they are on their way. While waiting at a red light a stranger hops into the front seat of the taxi. The stranger, a “tour guide”, explains that even though the pyramids are closed he can still get them in. Korey and his friend agree. Once inside, and on horseback, Korey noticed the sun setting and questioned his circumstances and surroundings. Luckily, his group runs into a British duo and they all ride together. The duo offered Korey and his friend a ride back to Cairo once their tour was concluded, much to the displeasure of Korey’s guide. They continued onward and Korey noticed that the groups began to drift into opposite directions. Nervous, Korey informs his guide they’d like to remain with the British and he brushes him off. Korey nervously and boldly guided his horse forward towards the direction of the British duo. Once out of the park the tour guides bring up the subject of money, having significantly upped their original fees. One of the Brits and one of the guides began to loudly disagree about the amount to be paid. Korey and his friend nervously observed the unfolding situation, as did a few bystanders. The frustrated guide suddenly challenged him to fight. Frustrated himself, the Brit relents tossing the money at the guide. Korey and his friend get into the car with the British duo. As they drove away the arguing Brit revealed that he had only given the gentleman five bucks.

Even though the theme was Bad Company at the end of the night it was clear that we were all in good company. All of the storytellers did a wonderful job and we thank them for sharing their personal stories.

Thank you Turner Hall and staff, and thank you to Dasha Kelly and Megan McGee for being our emcees for the evening. A very special thanks tothe amazing volunteers and to all our sponsors for their time and continued support of Ex Fabula. (WMSE 91.7, WUWM 89.7, Third Coast Daily, Yelp.com)

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