Karma is a funny thing. You reap what you sow. It is a fundamental truth. You want to be rude to people, don’t be surprised when you are only met with rudeness. You want to be kind and gentle, and you will notice kindness and gentleness in return. You want to play a prank on someone and don’t be surprised with the outcome.
The year was 2002 and it wasn’t a great day. Sure the weather was fine, but the task at hand was steeped with urgency and caution. James and I were escorting my then girlfriend (don’t want to use her name so I will call her Stacey) to her old house to retrieve a few items left there. She hadn’t been back in months. Family issues to the nth degree caused her and her sisters to leave abruptly. In the confusion of trying to get away, items were left that needed to be retrieved. We had our mission, get in the house (hopefully no one was home) and get the items. James and I would go into the house, make sure the coast was clear, let Stacey get what she needed, and get out quickly.
James parked the truck away from the house and we left Stacey in the truck with the doors locked. We told her if something happens, just drive off and we will meet her at a designated location. James and I walked to the front door and was able to get into the house. We called out to see if anyone was home and then checked every room. Once we knew the house was cleared we decided to go get Stacey.
Before leaving though, James stopped at the door and said, “Let’s play a joke on Stacey. On the count of three, we both run out of the house like something is wrong, jump in the truck, and drive away.” We were there to protect Stacey, but the more I thought about it, the more I could see how this would be the best joke ever. I never claimed to be a wise man.
James counted to three and threw open the door. We took off running towards the truck. James had it easy as the driver side door was closer. I, on the other hand, had to run around the truck to get in the passenger side door. Did I mention that the truck was parked on a gravel road? You know what happens if you are not careful when running on a gravel road? You can fall. You can fall hard.
I was running full sprint to the truck and the second my foot made contact with the gravel it flew up into the air. I fell and skidded into the middle of the gravel road. Lying their on my back, my arm tore up from going across the gravel, I could hear the truck doors open. James could barely contain himself with laughter about what happened. Stacey got out and came over to me and asked if I was alright. When I shook my head yes, still laying there, she kicked me in the side and said, “You deserved that.” She was right, I did deserve that. Karma.
Here is a little teaser of lil’ Matt and his pal Julius. If you could have any pet, what pet would you want?
The story so far…
When I started telling this silly little story during puppet shows and at church events, I noticed something pretty interesting: children really enjoyed the story. It happened suddenly and took me by surprise. I would see a kiddo again and they would say, “Mr. Matt, can we hear the turkey story again?” They wanted to hear the story again. This silly story of me trying to catch a turkey with a lasso, they enjoyed it so much that they wanted to hear it again.
So, I started telling it and telling it better. I incorporated more actions, more noises, and stretched the story. After a few more shows, the story was well-rounded and complete. It had a message. It had a plot. It had the characters. It just was missing something to make it amazing.
Move to Beyond the Sock. Beyond the Sock is a puppet workshop that I have been attending (either as a student or volunteer) for six years. It is hosted at UNT campus in Denton, TX and is taught by Pasha Romanowski (puppet builder extraordinaire), Peter Linz (Sesame Street puppeteer), and Noel MacNeal (Bear in the Big Blue House puppeteer). Each year I get to listen to these guys tell their stories, impart their lessons, and discuss their trades and each year they talk with passion about what they do and how they got there. I always over hear a student say how lucky these guys are to get to do what they do, but I don’t believe that is true. I don’t think they are lucky. I think all three of these mentors, worked hard and paid their dues with time, energy, and sweat to become who they are right now (I could seriously right many blogs about what I have learned from all three of these guys and probably will).
Each and every year, they impart the same message: if this is what you want to do, then you have to put in the time and work at it. No one is going to do it for you. Practice, get better and commit to your goals.
It was during Beyond the Sock, that I figured out what was missing from my story. It was mean to be a children’s book. It was meant to come to life on the page and inspire children. That was the goal. That was the dream. How to accomplish that goal was the next question (which I will talk about next time).
Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this post. Please go ahead and like it and share it. I plan on telling more behind the scenes of how this came about, talk about the entire process, and share more stories.
The first thing I tell people when they hear the story of “I Want A Pet Turkey” is that it really happened, well parts of it did. For years now, I have been able to turn a small story of growing up out in the country of north Texas, living on my own with nothing but fields and woods around me, into something that has entertained and made children and adults laugh.
For three years, I lived by myself in a small pier-and-beam house. I rented it from one of the founding members of the church I attended. The house was small, blue, had no central heat or air conditioning (only two window units–both had AC, but only one had heat). The windows didn’t have locks, the backdoor didn’t have a lock. Anyone could have broken in, but luckily there wasn’t much to take. The house set on top of a small basement that was built during the pioneer days. It had three stone steps to get down there, a stone retaining wall (that was bulging out), and a small wooden pillar in the middle that for some odd reason had 100’s of nails haphazardly sticking out of it. The basement was dark, cold, and creepy.
In the three years that I lived there, I had more run in’s with animals than most have their whole life. My house would be visited by longhorn cattle – that dented up my vehicle, buzzards – that stocked me for weeks, raccoons – that hid underneath buckets, deer – that ate my pomegranate tree, lady bugs – that infested an entire room, bees – that swarmed my house, snakes – that came up through the sewer line into my toilet, cats – that came into my house and slept in my bed, and yes, a turkey – that I wanted to catch.
There was a turkey. I wanted to catch it. I came up with a plan. It didn’t go well.
The story that I have told to literally 100’s of people is all based on real events. Wait you haven’t heard the story yet? Well you are in luck, “I Want A Pet Turkey” is being made into a children’s picture book. Stay tuned for more information as you see all of the steps that I go through to get this story out into the world.