We have partnered with the Moth on storytelling events in 19 cities, with the best stories appearing in a special issue of Reader’s Digest next summer. To learn more, subscribe to the Moth’s critically acclaimed podcast, and to get tickets to a show, visit themoth.org.
Christian Weber/Courtesy The MothMugger Hugger
By Randi Skaggs, Louisville, Kentucky
“Get me some money, lady. You wouldn’t be the first person I killed.” I considered running, but I’m slow. So I did what I do best when I’m nervous; I just started talking. I said, “I don’t have it as bad as you do, sir, but I am sleeping on my floor right now, and all I ever eat are ramen noodles, not that I lost any weight or anything.
“You know, people from Kentucky call and they say, ‘Oh, my God, New York City.’ I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m just a cliché, the kid who moves up here to change the world with her theater. I’m not gonna change the world. My theater stinks, really. I miss my mom, and I miss porch swings and sweet tea.
“So would you please not kill me, so I can just go back home where I belong?” He looked at me funny, and then he pulled me into a bear hug. It was my first human contact in months, actually.
To the Moon
By Steve Zimmer, Chicago, Illinois
In honor of America’s space program, my child‑hating first-grade teacher divides the class into three groups: stars, rockets, and moons. Despite being a moon, I easily identify the low‑ability group. But even among the moons, I’m a bad moon. My report card says that I don’t apply myself as a student, but it also questions my potential in case I do try.
Now, my mom and dad don’t actually apply themselves as parents, but even if they did, there’s no way they could know that I have severe ADD, because it doesn’t exist yet, especially the quiet kind. One morning I notice that my classmates have all brought in five different leaf species. I assume it’s a coincidence.
But then I look up at the nearest star—Kathy Welt. Her yellow folder says Leaf Day, and I’m like, I don’t know it yet, but this moment will repeat itself in various forms throughout my life. So I request bathroom permission, and the teacher, Miss Ross, says, “Are you just trying to go outside to pick leaves?” And I say, “No.” And she says, “Do you know what deception is?” And I’m like, “No,” which is true. I don’t. Hello. I’m a moon.
Hooray for Hollywood
By Carlos Kotkin, Los Angeles, California
When I was 20 years old, I dropped out of college and got a job as a chauffeur to an old‑school Hollywood producer. My main responsibility was to drive him around town, but he would take me to his meetings and introduce me as his associate.
And he would encourage me to speak up.
He had a script that he was developing at 20th Century Fox. We had many meetings there. After two years of chauffeuring, I wrote to the Fox executive I had grown to know during those script meetings and told him I was looking for something new. Not realizing that I was this producer’s driver, the executive set up an interview for me with the president of the studio as a candidate for a job as the newest studio executive.
To my surprise, when the president of the studio found out I had dropped out of college, we got into a debate about the importance of college degrees. It ended with me telling him, “You kind of sound like my mother.”
And he hired me.