Monday, January 02, 2006

Same old stories

We all have a story to tell. Most of us have more than one, and very often, we have amusing anecdotes that we relate to people in our social circle. Like the one about the fast food employee who couldn't make change, or the amusing misspoken word from a colleague at work, or the minor road mishap we saw while driving, or the famous person we once met in a mundane setting.

Why do we humans do this? Yes, we are social animals, but do we tell stories just want to make small talk? Perhaps we strive to make ourselves look better as compared to others, or to turn focus away from our own shortcomings. Maybe we need look no further than the inclination to laugh. Stories, they say, are universal. There's only so many plots (and the exact number remains up for debate), but endless variations on Love, Revenge, the Quest keep asses in seats and books on the shelf.

I have a semi-bad habit of forgetting who has heard a given anecdote, either retelling a story to a person or assuming they've heard it already. I try to think of it as good storytelling practice to re-tell a tale to the same audience. I also enjoy observing seeing how various turns of phrase will change over the history of an anecdote- some will stick, some will go away. I think I read a story by Stephen King that mentioned this sort of occurrence tangentially- words wearing a groove in the mind like a river over stone.

Greylight word count: 1718
Birthday countdown: 8!

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