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Nostalgia October 2013

Senior Moments

My ‘Do Not Retell’ List

By Edward A. Joseph

I have a friend who is helpful with my "repeat an anecdote" problem. Whenever I start to repeat a story, he holds up two fingers as a reminder of my duplication. Those two fingers have gotten a lot of exercise over the years.

I recently visited my daughter Amy who lives in San Francisco. It's always a treat to see her because I live in New York and I don't make the long trip too often. I took advantage of the opportunity to tell Amy some of my favorite "life-stories."

As I was flying back to New York I went over in my mind the anecdotes that I had told Amy, and I suddenly realized that I had retold stories she had heard many times before. My wife Susan and I taught her to be polite, so I never heard, "Daaad you already told me that story 20 times!"

Nevertheless, it got me thinking that I often do retell stories, even to Susan, who HAS heard them 20 times (at least).

I have a friend who is helpful with my "repeat an anecdote" problem. Whenever I start to repeat a story, he holds up two fingers as a reminder of my duplication. Those two fingers have gotten a lot of exercise over the years.

I read somewhere that when you continually repeat a life-experience on a psychological level you are trying to work out something in your mind related to what happened. I can accept this explanation, but in deference to my friends, relatives, and acquaintances I have decided to start a "Do Not Retell" list.

The habit of retelling personal anecdotes will not be easy to break. I would join a support group, say "Seniors Against Boring the Heck Out of Friends, Relatives, and Acquaintances," but I don't believe anyone has started such a vital group yet. So I'm on my own.

Therefore, I have decided the best approach for stopping my verbal redundancies is to categorize my favorite stories, and then to never tell any life-incidents related to those categories. Some examples: personal sports achievements, misbehavior as a teenager, personal tough-guy stories, and perhaps the most tempting -- past dealings with the foibles of others in which I come out smelling like a rose.

Of course, there is a major problem in committing myself to never retell the fascinating experiences of my life: What will I talk about in social situations? Not everyone loves the New York Mets, plays golf, or daydreams about inane things. Perhaps the answer is to be a better listener to the anecdotes of others and never hold up two fingers.

Even though I know there will be some awkward social moments ahead with friends, relatives, and acquaintances, I am determined to implement my Do Not Retell List. By the way, did I tell you about the "Ah Ha!" moment I had while flying back from San Francisco after recently visiting my daughter…

 

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