Some people just really know how to tell a story, you know? They paint a picture. It’s like you’re really there. James Baldwin. Anton Chekhov. Dorothy Parker. And this guy:
Every so often, a viral Twitter thread comes along and one thinks to themselves, “Oh, right, this is why I use Twitter. This, and memes about Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Chris Jones, author of Out of Orbit: The Incredible True Story of Three Astronauts Who Were Hundreds of Miles Above Earth When They Lost Their Ride Home, is responsible for this one. It presents a conundrum to your Great Job Internet writer, who’s faced with the challenge of somehow supplementing that which is already marvelous. It’s daunting, but needs must, so let’s continue. Here are the next two.
Can’t you just smell it? The sunblock? The sea? The body spray? Jones conjures a vivid sense of place. The Florida sun glints off the giant watches. The four-foot fins flap. The empty Mich Ultra cans rattle musically as they roll across the deck. A new adventure has begun, bros.
Moving on. Next two.
This is a great transition. The scene set, Jones introduces himself as a contrasting figure, a knock-kneed teen trying hard to square up his shoulders, perhaps considering inventing a Canadian lover, his (British?) parents waving from the beach, cone in hand. You can just see the noogies coming, can’t you? But then, a twist, and a Chet suddenly has sausage lips. Thoughtful, evocative writing from Jones here. Next two:
Look ‘em in the eye, aim no higher, summon all the courage you require, then the next two:
Note the judicious use of stock photo, only the second in the thread so far. A great storyteller knows when to let the mind’s eye do the work of the words. Then, a masterstroke: the transition to memory, once again reminding us that he is but a pup amidst snorting, drooling bloodhounds. From one circular urinal to another in the next two tweets:
He could never say that again. Jones hints at the haunted eyes staring above sausage lips as the other Chets all bump chests and whip each other with towels and whatnot. That first Chet becomes a figure nearly as compelling as the teenager and his pee-soaked fins. Next two:
And here’s where Jones really slips the knife between the ribs: with the double-whammy of that whispered “yeah” and the most telling words in the whole story: “I had peed on a man for the first time.” A rite of passage, a promise of more peeing to come. And like Raymond Carver’s small, good thing, there’s the ice cream. Reward enough.
The story ends there, but we’ll end with one more tweet, a salute from Jones to some of those who were touched by this Great American Twitter Thread:
So the art of storytelling is alive and well. And if you enjoyed Jones’ work, you might consider reading this one, about pooping the bed, or this one, which involves blood and George Clooney. Happy Monday.
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