TBTL podcast host Luke Burbank, who is also a frequent panel member on NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me, was away for two weeks. This was great for me, because the TBTL shows were reruns, and I had only recently begun my role as one of the show’s time bandits.
The final two days were old shows featuring conversations with Stephen Tobolowsky, shows I hadn’t heard before.
You know Tobolowsky if you have ever seen a few movies or a handful of television shows. Chances are good Tobolowsky, a character actor, was in at least one of them. I always enjoyed his work as an actor, but in the last couple of years I learned about his storytelling abilities. Many of the baseball players today grew up wanting to play like Ken Griffey, Jr. Ever since hearing Tobolowsky, I have wanted to tell stories like he does.
After my dad began living in a nursing facility it was a regular thing to go see him on Sundays. Often that meant taking a drive after church and taking a scenic path, giving me the chance to listen to Tobolowsky’s hour-long broadcast on Seattle’s KUOW.
I got into the podcasts months, maybe years, after they started, so I can’t say for sure the following excerpt from his book “The Dangerous Animals Club” came out from the podcasts, but some of the stories I’ve seen in the book were ones I did hear on Sundays.
When I was five, I had an invisible monster that lived alternately in my closet and under my bed in a kind of winter-home/summer-home arrangement. His name was “Eye the Monster.” Eye would come out of hiding when I was alone and we would talk.
I had an up-and-down relationship with Eye. I often appreciated his middle-of-the-night visits. We would talk about school and about girls I had crushes on. You would think that Eye the Monster didn’t care about the opposite sex. But he did. He always argued for patience and honesty. He urged me to be more aggressive with the ladies on square dance day. It was hard advice to take. I was never a player. I thought five years of age was too young to be married. But not Eye. He thought I could be a trailblazer and be married and have children before I was in fourth grade. And this was years before MTV.
My drives are over and so is The Tobolowsky Files. Reviews of the book say his storytelling translates as well in writing as it does on the radio. In just the little bit I read that seems true.