To be called a storyteller in English is not the same as in Venezuelan Spanish.
A storyteller is a culture builder and propagator through the power of oral tradition. They tell the stories of a culture from its myths to its jokes, including legends, fables, and folk tales.
A Contador de historias or cuenta cuentos in Spanish may be anything from a park and summer camp entertainer to a con artist.
In English, stories and myths evoke oral and literary accounts that hold the spirit of a given culture. In Spanish, cuentos and mitos bear the connotation of lies. No me vengas con cuentos,(don’t tell me stories) we warn anyone who we anticipate is about to lie in our faces (especially politicians). We have words like mitómano to describe a person who compulsively fabricates or exaggerates everything they do or see. A cuenta cuentos becomes a charlero, a chatter box; someone who can’t be trusted, even if s/he swears on a Bible.
Frank was considered a charlero by his hometown buddies. They never believed his stories about becoming a leader of an underground revolution in the capital. He had never told the truth, not even in their small rural church. When he moved to the capital and started working in the most important food corporation in the country, everybody assumed he was just a menial worker. Whenever he could visit his home town, he told them stories over a bottle of cheap rum about how fast he was escalating positions in the workers union. He was always willing to get jobs for anyone from his town who was unemployed in the capital. He told them he could even write letters of recommendation or pull some strings in any factory of the corporation across the country.
Cuéntame una de vaqueros, (tell me a cowboy story) Frank’s friends used to say. Until one day, they saw him on national television sitting next to the president of the biggest corporation in the country and the important members of government. He was indeed the leader of the workers union. He was a Trojan horse. Now that he had proved his worth, he was going to represent that union in congress.
Frank stopped visiting his hometown. Whenever his folks send any relative or friend over to ask him for jobs he was never available. Actually, there were not many jobs available after his union tenure almost ruined the corporation. They had to cut thousands of jobs and close many plants to face governmental regulations and intimidation.
Life was good for Frank, though. His humble origins made him the perfect posterboy for the Samsonian revolution. Unlike Samson, though, the heroes like Frank made sure they’d leave someone else holding the pillars of the corporate or political temple before it crumbled. The best storytellers are the ones who become the protagonists of their implausible tales and live to tell them.
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