Thursday, April 30, 2009

Exaggeration Station

So I've come up against a new problem lately: literalists.

Not biblical literalists. I can deal with those. These are literal literalists; they take everything I say literally.

Now, as you may have noticed from this blog, I consider myself to be somewhat of a storyteller, a spinner of yarns, if you will. And I freely admit that there are times when a story needs a little "boost". Now don't get me wrong, facts are facts, but there are some situations in which a little splash of excitement and drama is necessary to make the telling of the story worthwhile. This is all for the sake of the hearers, of course, so that they can experience first hand the original sense of the narrative. I don't consider a little bit of enhancement to be off-limits, especially if I'm trying to tell a funny story or a story about something that annoyed me.*

But recently, my storytelling abilities have been stalled by the literalists. I'll give you an example:

Me: I went to Target yesterday to buy paper towels, and there was only one checkstand open, on a SATURDAY, and there were fifty-eight people in line.....I had to wait in line for an hour to pay.
Literalist #1: You really had to wait a whole hour?

See, this is where I get stopped up. Because there is not way to respond to the literalist. Okay, so maybe there were three checkstands open and I only waited five minutes behind three people, but I was in a hurry so it felt like an hour. (Besides, it wouldn't be worth retelling if it went like this: I was in Target and had to wait the normal amount of time to pay for my items.) But to explain all this would be to kill the story-telling buzz for both the teller and the hearer. Because the teller is forced to confront his or her exaggeration (never fun), and the hearer forced to realize that it wasn't a very good story to begin with.

So, I would like to propose a new system for letting the exaggerators remain in the closet and the literalists feel safe. My new system is called: Don't ask, don't tell. The basic premise is that no one should question any of the facts of my stories, and I won't tell you the mundane details of my life that are not (at least mildly) entertaining. This way, we'll all feel fulfilled and keep boredom (and terrorism) at bay.

*As it turns out, exaggerating is actually a genetic trait. My father has it, evidenced by the fact that 30% of my childhood was spent asking "MOM, is that true?" Scientists are still working on finding the gene for it, but it definitely may be connected to the easily-worked-up-about-things gene, also dominant in my family.

1 comment:

  1. So the '30% of your childhood' was exaggerating? Just practicing my understanding of hyperbole. asking.