This is a tall tale I wrote to tell at the Bold-Faced Liars' Showdown in Laurinburg, NC.
This story is about my great, great, many-greats grandpappy. There are so many greats I can't even begin to count them all so I'm just going to call him great grandpappy. Well, great grandpappy was a was out on the Mediterranean Sea doing some spear fishing when a lightning bolt fell out of the sky. It landed in the water not far from him. Now, folks, this lightning bolt belonged to Zeus and it was his absolute favorite one. When Zeus needed to one hundred percent guaranteed smite someone, he always reached the lightning bolt floating right there in front of my great grandpappy.
Great grandpappy didn't know anything about that but he sure knew the fishing challenge of a life time when he saw it! He tied his strongest line to the spear and chucked it at the lightning bolt. The spear buried itself in that lightning bolt's tail and then things got mighty exciting, let me tell you! That lightning bolt commenced to jumping and diving and racing around the water like you wouldn't believe. It was all great grandpappy could do to hold on to the line, but hold on he did!
That lightning bolt dragged great grandpappy and his boat up and down the Mediterranean, trying to shake that spear loose. I guess that lightning bolt decided it needed more room if it was going to shake off great grandpappy, so it headed toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Now back in those days, Gibraltar was a low land bridge that went all the way from Spain to Africa, keeping the Atlantic and the Mediterranean separated. Well, that lightning bolt drove right at the middle of the Gibraltar land bridge as fast as it could go. Great grandpappy figured this was going to be the end but he was having too much fun to let go of that line. That lightning bolt hit the land bridge and just blasted through it. The molten rocks all fell in a big ol' pile over on the Spain side and fused into a single rock. And that's how the Rock of Gibraltar was made!
Meanwhile, the lightning bolt pulled great grandpappy out into the Atlantic and started zipping around in small circles. I guess that lightning bolt hoped great grandpappy would get thrown out of his boat and let go. Instead, it spun so fast it started up the very first hurricane!
Since small circles didn't work, the lightning bolt set off as fast as it could across the Atlantic. It came zooming along up the side of what we now call the eastern United States. Then it cut back across the Atlantic to the island we now call England. Then it started all over again, going around and around and around. That started up the Gulf Stream current, making England a much warmer place to live.
All this while, great grandpappy's boat had been taking one heck of a beating. Soon, bits and pieces of the boat began falling off. Before he knew it, great grandpappy was left with only two boards from his boat, one board under each foot. Right then and there, great grandpappy invented the sport of water skiing!
But that lightning bolt was finally starting to slow down. It was getting plumb tuckered out towing great grandpappy all around the ocean. The lightning bolt headed back to familiar waters, bringing great grandpappy back to the shores of Greece.
And who was waiting for him there? Why, Zeus and Hercules, that's who! Seems Hercules had been playing with his daddy's lightning bolts without permission and dropped daddy's favorite one right over the edge of Mount Olympus. Zeus was much obliged to great grandpappy for catching his favorite lightning bolt and offered him anything his heart desired in return.
Well, let me tell you, great grandpappy didn't have to think too hard on that one! In all his life, he'd never had as much fun as he had trying to reel in that lightning bolt. Great grandpappy wished for a sky boat so he could sail across the skies and fish for lightning bolts. Zeus, who was a fisherman himself, was happy to grant that wish.
Great grandpappy is still up there in his sky boat fishing for lightning bolts. Whenever he catches one, the first thing the lightning bolt does is dive for the ground. That's why lightning bolts strike the earth, you know. And when his fishing line breaks, well, that's thunder. The ones that get away, scattering through the clouds? We call them heat lightning.
And if I'm lying may Zeus smite me with a lightning bolt right now!