Monday, March 18, 2013

Bad Storytelling

I have a little problem. I tell really crappy stories.

In person!

You see, I'm one of those people who really enjoys the backspace button and the delete button and the right click button that brings up universal spell check. Let's just say, I need those tools. All the time. So when I'm talking to people face to face and I don't have those editing tools, verbal vomit tends to come out of my mouth.

And there's just no backspace button for when I see eyes glaze over.

Obviously, this burns, because not only do I love telling stories, but I know how good ones are told. I know they must have conflict and drama and climatic points and all the rest. But all of that gets jumbled when I talk. Let's just say quick, sharp wit was never my strong suit in person.

Last weekend we went out to dinner with some friends, some of whom we've been friends with for nigh on 20 years. I figured I was safe in telling a few stories here and there.


My opening went well enough. We were talking about mothers and passive aggression and I told the quick story about how once when I was about 21 or so my mother was in the backseat of my car while I was driving, and she was taking the role a bit seriously, criticizing my every move and making a terrible nuisance of herself. I drove, teeth gritted, shoulders hunched high, and tried to bear it. At last, there was silence. A song had come on the radio, and she liked it. It was by the Cure.

"What's that song?" she asked me. "I like it."

"I don't know," I said. I knew every Cure song.

"Yes, you know it," she said. "What is it?"

"I don't know."

And to this day, I still haven't told her the name of the song.

My friend of 20 years laughed at this story. That was his fatal mistake. Encouraged, I launched into a frightful account of something else my mother did, and I slavered on for some time telling it until I saw that his eyes had taken on the gloss of a dead person.

I shut my mouth with a clap.

Later, I apologized to him for telling a really bad, disjointed  boring story that went no where. I admitted that it was a problem of mine. I went red in the face and felt very bad indeed, because I am supposed to be a writer who tells stories, who wants to tell stories for her main source of living, and who will never, ever stop telling or reading or watching or enjoying stories, so long as they aren't mine when I speak to people.

Do you have this problem? Please tell me it isn't just me. That your ability to weave a tale is limited to your fingers, and that when you open your mouth you're a village idiot. Please?

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