I can almost hear the groans as I write this. “YES! We all know that story!”
My Dad, God bless him, loves to tell his stories. The problem is that he has told the SAME stories (and jokes) for as long as I can remember. He really needs some new material. Dad is 85 years old now and I suppose he is entitled to repeat himself but everyone in the family can tell his stories verbatim.
Somehow that doesn’t bother him. He tells them again (and again). Mom usually rolls her eyes and the grandkids giggle because it’s a ritual they’ve come to appreciate. Sometimes they’re the instigators. “Hey Grandpa, how did you and Gram meet?’ or “Hey Grandpa, did you really travel through the Panama Canal during World War II?” or “Grandpa, what’s that joke about the priest, the rabbi, and the Lutheran minister?” And he’s off and running…
Now of course I am doing the same thing (and I’m not certain when it really started). I will repeat the same joke ad nauseam – because “if it’s funny the first time”…
I will recount for the umpteenth time a story (which may contain some truth) about something that happened before most of my captive listeners were born. I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. I don’t know, maybe it’s genetic; maybe it’s a learned behavior. It’s like the cycle of abuse – I’ve become the abuser (in this case the serial story-teller). And I kind of like it. No, I really like it. It’s frightening!
The problem for serial story-tellers like me is that our victims are all too willing. Most people are either too polite to ask that I “shut up” or they are actually entertained (initially). It doesn’t matter. If I have a willing listener – I will talk. All normal social clues such as yawning, looking at a watch, blank stares, preoccupation with cell phones, PDAs, etc., have no power over a serial story-teller. Debbie even tries to ‘intervene’ by asking me to “not tell that one again” – that’s utter foolishness. Once I’ve settled in – you’re there for the WHOLE STORY. I wish I could stop, but I can’t.
And I know that someday I’ll be very sad when Dad’s not around to tell his stories (even though we sometimes groan). But he needn’t worry, I’ll be telling them for him. Maybe that’s my purpose – to keep the flame alive. Perhaps Dad is passing the torch so that HIS stories will live on long after he does. Or maybe it’s just an annoying habit that I’ve picked up.
Either way, did I ever tell you about how Mom and Dad met…?