I know this girl who is a terrible story teller. I don’t want to say how I know her, but suffice to say our relationship hasn’t been that long or, thankfully, storied. But the fact remains.
First of all, she speaks very, very slowly, and pauses at awkward places, presumably to build up suspense. The problem is, all of her stories are:
a) about nothing anyone cares about. Like, how she decided which yogurt to eat for lunch, or a conversation she had with her mom about carpet cleaner.
b) entirely devoid of punchlines. Every SINGLE time she finishes I story, I’m still leaning in like, “And then?” But there is no and then. There’s nothing more. But she’s sitting there preening and waiting for some big laugh. I. Don’t. Get. It.
I’ve been kind of spoiled because so many of my friends are GOOD story tellers. A lot of them are journalists, so if they can’t tell a story, they have bigger problems. But even my non-professional writer friends are good story tellers. Two great examples? Annie and Work Annie. (Not to be confused.) Both GREAT story tellers, in print and in spoken word. If they say they have a story, I settle in.
I don’t think it’s good for me to be around bad story tellers. What if it’s catching?
I already have enough insecurities about whether or not I’ve already told a story, let alone if it was any good. I mean, when I finally see someone in person I haven’t seen for a while, my first question is, “Do you read my blog?” And if they say yes, it’s followed up quickly with, “Are you caught up?” Because I really don’t want to bore them with stories they’ve already heard, and probably with better grammar and sentence structure.
Because when I have a story finalized, that’s how I tell it. Every time. Same jokes, same inflection. It has been elevated to an art form, and I’m not going to mess that up by “trying something new.”
Joey can validate this for me. Being married to me, he has to hear me tell the same stories and jokes multiple times. Bless him, he’ll usually laugh no matter how many times he’s heard it. But lately he’s taken to doing this thing that gets me every single time.
He’ll start telling me my own stories back like it’s something that happened to him.
For example, I guess I must have told him a couple of times how when the movie Beethoven came out, there’s this scene where the little blonde kid drives a car through a factory wall. For some reason, my brothers and I found this beyond hilarious and once rewound it about eight times and watched it over and over again. Good times. (Have no idea what I’m talking about? You HAVE to watch this before you continue reading. Still don’t get it? Well…forget you.)
Apparently I had told this story to my husband one too many times. One day we were walking somewhere, and I saw something that reminded me of that story. Unable to remember if I had already told him, I started to launch into the story. This happened:
Me: You know the scene in Beethoven where the kid drives through the factory?
Him: Yeah, I used to watch that scene over and over with my brothers.
For about half a second, I actually thought, “Oh my gosh, I did that too! We’re so similar! We’re totally soul mates.” And then I saw him grinning at me, remembered he had no brothers, and slugged him in the arm.
He’s started doing this a lot. It’s gotten to the point where when he tells me that he did something I’ve done, I’m 90% sure he’s teasing me.
Case in point, the last time we were in the city, we were on the train home when he tells me he used to name all his pets Bob.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, buddy. I used to name all my pets Bob.
I didn’t remember actually ever telling him this, but my skepticism took over.
Me: Are you only saying that because you know that I used to name ALL of my pets Bob?
Him: What? No, I really named him Bob. Did you do that?
Me: Never mind.
Him: No, really, all of them?
Me: I said never mind!
It’s really putting a strain on our marriage, as you can see.
The point is, bad stories hurt, and bad story tellers are even worse. And if you’re a bad story teller, you shouldn’t start a blog. Lord knows I’ve cornered the market on that one.