And here we go again. MythOff USA rumbles on, for the first time in the North, in our very own Bowling Green, OH. New venue, new people, old stories.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about putting on a MythOff in a whole new town. I was used to organizing these in the storytelling-saturated home turf on Jonesborough, where you can't even cough without five storytellers saying "Bless you!" Bowling Green, however, is a college town, where people usually find themselves plenty things other than myths to consume on Friday nights.
And yet - spoiler alert! - the first MythOff Bowling Green absolutely kicked ass.
First of all: Our venue, the Happy Badger Café of Deliciousness, was not only kind, friendly, and comfortably perfect for storytelling, but also COMPLETELY FULL. Seriously, you could not have gotten in another person edgewise. We had BGSU students, SCA people, a vanful of international teachers from all over the world doing a training program at BGSU, and also people without acronyms. There was hot chocolate, tea, smoothies, and yes, there was also pie.
Tom, our host, put on his most dapper manners, and did a wonderful job keeping everything on track, and making everyone feel welcome (she usually hosts the weekly Open Mic evenings too). He was funny and enthusiastic, and on top of everything, from introducing tellers to dragging more tables in. Oh, and he also came up with the voting questions. Which (together with the rest of the actual program) were as follows:
Round one: Secrets
In the Hindu corner: Hannah (BGSU, PopCulture), who told a lovely story about an orphan girl pretending to be a princess until the goddess Parvati rewarded her devotion with making it so (fake it till you make it!)
In the Egyptian corner: Grace (SCA, possibly our youngest ever MythOff teller), telling the Secret Name of Ra, topping it with a great last line.
Voting question: If you had to write a memoir and choose the title from one of these stories, would it be "Without pearls for breakfast," or "A bit of Ra's drool"?
Prize: The Mask of Mystery
Round two: Tricksters! (tricksters always come with an exclamation mark)
In the Norse corner: Dan (SCA) who told Loki's fleeting work-related romance that resulted in Sleipnir ("Loki takes one for the team")
In the Central American corner: Clark (SCA) bringing a Mayan myth of two brothers tricking the monsters of the Underworld. He included a delightful little dance number, and by proxy also won the Monsters round with razor-bats and skeleton creatures.
Voting question: If you had to babysit in two households, which line (from the stories) written on a note on the fridge would make you run screaming faster? "Strong strapping stallion" or "Burn the twins and kill the dog"?
Winner: Cental America, obviously. Someone just wrote on their voting paper "Run away from CA."
Prize: The Eyes of Innocence, a tiny Monkey King doll with large eyes saying "It wasn't me!"
Round three: Monsters
In the Slavic corner: Dwight (SCA) with a Russian tale of vampires, churches, and maidens that turn into flowers, representing transition from heathenism to Christianity. Also, vampires.
In the Chinese corner: Yours truly (as the common ground in all of the above mentioned acronyms) with a piece of Journey to the West involving demon-spider-ladies and a holy monk.
Voting question: Which one of the two hero-monster dichotomies describes your worst relationship best?
Winner: The Monkey King
Prize: The Monster Master Monstrosity (a string of fake monster teeth, fangs and claws fashioned into a necklace)
It was a fast-paced, energetic event - so much so, in fact, that the audience didn't even want to take a break halfway through. Voting was executed on notepad sheets adorned with puppies and hearts (for lack of a printer, this was what was at hand, don't judge). All in all, everyone introduced to MythOff tonight was satisfied and entertained. And so were we. Incredible turnout, incredible evening. We will have to do this again soon.