As the evening began at the Sugar Maple, the lights went down allowing the long row of red paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling to point all eyes to the stage. The evening’s host Mark Weinberg stepped up and raised the mic to his lips. The audience welcomed him with applause.

Mark started out by asking how many were at their first Ex Fabula Story Slam. A good number. Maybe twenty, thirty newbies? Mark said, “Well, for all the newbies, I’ve never MC’d either so, I’m a newbie too! Let’s have a big hand for all the newbies. Me included!”

The evening’s theme was “Awkward.” Mark was not at all! He deftly wrapped up the announcements: who, why, do, don’t – then drew a first name from the hat. Ex Fabula’s 15th season got off to an “awkward” start.

Mark Weinberg
Monica Thomas

Monica Thomas stepped to the stage. Her first word, “Awkward.” She went on to say that she is a child of the 80’s, clearly implying that offered her a majorette’s position in the parade of awkwardness. She described ratting her hair and wearing fishnets and jelly shoes to her fifth grade class because, well … Madonna!

Being a child of the 80’s meant living the pop culture and trying out all the makeup trends she found in the pages of magazines. That’s why one afternoon Monica and her friend were painting extra eyes on their faces – mid forehead and on their closed eyelids. Too bad they had to debut the look in front of the motorcyclist who accidentally bumped their bumper. Forget exchanging insurance cards. He bolted.

Dana Hintz was a student traveling in Germany when she met this really cool Kiwi named Derek. There was an instant attraction. They spent a glorious evening together talking and drinking. When they called it a night they learned they were in the same hostel, then the same hall, then the same bunkroom! One thing led to another and late that night they ended up in the same upper bunk! They thought they’d been quiet but the next day the other residents of the bunkroom were complaining about that rude and noisy top bunk couple! A confession was required. Awkward.

Dana Hintz
Sarah Beth Nelson

When Sarah Beth Nelson’s family bought an upright piano from the mall music store, Dorothy, their music teacher, was included. Dorothy was a great pianist but a terrible teacher. Her methods and unrealistic expectations almost destroyed Sarah Beth’s musical ambitions. She was in such distress she just wanted to quit. But mom and dad said, “No lessons, no space camp!” And Sarah Beth was not about to lose the opportunity to go to space camp! She soldiered on for a couple more years until old Dorothy retired. Her new music teacher Lois replaced Dorothy and, to Sarah Beth’s delight, also replaced Sarah Beth’s extreme anxiety with a true and enduring true love of piano!

Next up, a firefighter and newbie storyteller, Ken Murack who shared a remarkable bowling story. Ken began by explaining that police and firefighters used ten codes to shorten radio communications. For instance, 10-4 meant message received, 10-7 meant unavailable and 10-99 meant “on scene with a deceased person.” Ken was surprised to learn their friend Boobie had gone 10-99 in that bowling alley earlier that day.

The discussion among bowlers turned to the fact that Boobie, who had never rolled a 300 game, was seven frames into a perfect game when he passed. When their anchor bowler started rolling strikes, the firefighter’s team decided Boobie had returned to finish his perfect game. 8th frame, 9th frame, ten in the pit! When their anchor began his tenth frame, everyone in the alley went quiet to watch. When the final ball was a strike, all the lanes erupted in applause. Ken said, “Boobie, you got your 300!” There were high fives and laughter all around until someone added the five scores of the entire team and said, “Look!” The total was 1099.

Ken Murak
Jo Jo Dascenzo

Another newbie, Jo Jo Dascenzo related a story about her experience at the Fred Astair dance school with her instructor, a handsome young man with a lovely southern accent. As a newly divorced single mom she’s impressed. Her instructor must have been impressed too because he recommended her for a dance competition. As a new dancer she didn’t have all the fancy clothes, as a matter of fact, she didn’t even have a pair of pantyhose that fit right. So, to hold up the droopy crotch, she decided to wear her panties outside her pantyhose. No one would ever know, if it hadn’t been for the spins in their routine. The whole room saw her hack and Jo Jo was embarrassed.

Next, Mark Steidl comes up. He tells the crowd that there’s only one person in the world that can make him feel awkward – his mom. Mark was in high school when his parents divorced. His mother decided it was time to meet new people and try new things like skeet shooting, skydiving, taxidermy and pyrotechnics. Many of the activities came with male partners who sometimes spent time at the house. At some point she became enamored of Mr. Sky Diving. Unfortunately, Mr. Skeet Shooting wasn’t really over her yet. While Mr. Sky Diving was upstairs with mom, young Mark was left to deal with slightly inebriated Mr. Skeet Shooting who “just wanted to talk.” Awkward!

Mark Steidl
Anne Koller

The next teller was Anne Koller who got herself into a little situation with a dating app. She said “yes” to one guy but then she got a better offer. Instead of telling number one the truth, she went with the old “I’m not feeling well” story. Number one kept trying to help. “Are you feeling better?” “Would you like me to bring you some soup?” She went on the date with number two. After the date she got home and received another text from number one. It was a picture of number one and number two together. Turns out number one and two were both roommates and cousins! Now, that’s awkward!

Peter May

Teller number eight was Peter May. In the name of full disclosure, let me tell you that Peter May is me. I’m Peter May. So, let me make this story easy for you. Basically, I’d arrived at a convention center to make a presentation. Rather than drive in my suit, I chose to change into my suit at the convention center. I found an empty rest room in the far corner of the deserted convention center to change clothes. In the restroom, figuring I’m a big guy l’d grab the roomy handicapped stall.

A few minutes later a couple of guys came in and stepped into the adjoining stall. They were facing each other and seemed to be in a close embrace. I heard them talking low. There was some bumping and grunting. Then I noticed that one of the men had dropped his pants. I quickly exited the stall only to take a header over the wheelchair. It only took a nanosecond to figure out what happened. Stupid awkward!

Craig Plain

The final teller of the evening was Craig Plain. He told the story of Cathy, the senior RA in his dorm at Whitewater. Cathy was a beautiful, clever, charming woman who Craig wanted to get to know better but he never found the courage to invite out. They did dance once and even kissed when the music stopped but, well, she was the Senior RA.

During the summer, when the dorm was closed, he saw his opportunity, asked her out and got a yes! He put together a romantic picnic lunch at the botanical garden.

He packed olives (she didn’t like olives), cheese (she was lactose intolerant), summer sausage (way too much garlic) and some wine but forgot the corkscrew. The conversation didn’t go any better. They had nothing in common. For all the eager anticipation, the date ended with an awkward handshake. Oh well, that’s why there are songs about anticipation.

After an evening of wonderful stories from many veteran story tellers and several newbies, our newbie host expertly wrapped the evening by announcing the vote and welcoming the winner Ken Murak and Dana Hintz back to the stage. It’s a TIE! Both Ken and Dana will be invited to tell a story at our All Stars StorySlam at the end of the season! Ex Fabula’s season fifteen is underway! Find our full list of upcoming StorySlams here.