Friday, September 26, 2014

 






To Make a Short Story Long. . .

     


     Do you know people who love to tell you a story, but by the time they are done, you are totally exhausted and bored? If you are smiling, I want to believe that the storyteller is not you. It certainly isn’t me. My greatest fear is boring anyone. I’ll talk faster than an auctioneer just to avoid the glazed look.

     The storytellers who send me into orbit start off by grabbing you with a good opener like, “You aren’t going to believe this guy I saw at the store yesterday.” All right. You’ve got my attention. Fifteen minutes later, after I’ve heard about each button on his shirt, the gold tooth protruding from his mouth and all the random people standing around watching him lie down on the floor with his stuffed ferret, I’m ready to tear my hair out. These storytellers believe they are cheating us if they don’t give us every color, fabric, gesture and pollen count. 

     Then there is the couple who wants to tell the story together. Oh, Lord, spare me. If the couple is over 60, you’d best go get your blanky. One begins the story, “I was washing my car, when my neighbor, Bill, walked right up to me and started screaming.” The other interrupts, “Well, that’s not really true, dear. He wasn’t really screaming; he can’t hear so he talks loud.” “He was screaming, trust me.” “Honey, you shouldn’t be spreading rumors about our neighbors.” “Who’s telling this story, me or you?” “Well, I’m just sayin’.” And the story continues with the two of them interrupting each other, bickering about the details and totally ignoring whoever might be polite enough to stay and listen. What’s wrong with people?  

     The person who starts off with, “I can remember. . . “ is the dangerous one. This person wants to fill you in from the beginning of time. He wants to paint you a picture when he doesn’t have a canvas size in mind. He feels it his obligation to give you a narrative complete with historical, geographical, architectural and archeological details.
I think these characters are composing a book in their minds, and they’re trying it out on any fool who will listen. 

     What can you do? My standard defense is, “I remember you telling me this story. Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” 

(Watch for upcoming short story long sample)