Growing up, I used to bug my dad at every opportunity to tell this one story about an argument he got into with a coach during my older brother’s baseball game.
Every time, we’d do the same dance.
When there was even the slightest opportunity, I’d try to shoehorn the story into whatever the present topic of conversation was and get him to tell it. Not only did he know it better than I did as it happened to him, but he told it way better. He’s always been something of a raconteur, a skill I like to think I’ve gotten from him—along with a passion for sports that borders on lunacy, an inability to assemble even the simplest of household items and an impressive knack for flying off the handle at even the slightest annoyance (like, say, your seatbelt not giving you any slack out of absolutely fucking nowhere) and taking it out on the undeserving people around me.
Anyway… I’d bug him to tell the story, he’d initially refuse. Sometimes he’d refuse because he just didn’t feel like telling it, other times he’d refuse because he felt like it painted him in a bad light (it doesn’t, the other people involved were complete dickheads).
So, if we were in good company and I could sense he wasn’t going to get pissed, I’d start telling the story without his help. Inevitably, I’d stumble and trip over a few details, forget something worthwhile here or there and he’d soon tire over how poorly I was telling his great story… and come in, Mariano Rivera of the story-telling world in this moment, to save the tale.
(For the record: here’s a brief version of the story, because he doesn’t write for this blog and won’t be able to tell it himself… My dad’s watching my brother play a game, didn’t like that an umpire let an opposing coach sway a call. He calls out to the coach, something to the effect of “Let the ump do his job, coach!” After the coach and my dad have a little heated conversation–apparently, he didn’t take well to the criticisms from the stands–the coach’s son told my dad to “sit his fat ass down.” In fairness to the coach’s son, my dad’s ass wasn’t exactly little at this moment, but my older brother didn’t take well to that comment and proceeded to rush the mound from the dugout and a fight ensued between the coach’s son and my brother. I’m sure there’s more I’m missing, but that’s basically it. Pretty good, right? Now imagine my dad telling it.)
It didn’t (and still doesn’t) matter how many times I hear this story. Every time, I love it.
I don’t know exactly why that is, why we love hearing these oldies but goodies. I’d imagine comfort and fond-memory association play a large role, akin to how you can listen to the same song for years and years. In my mind’s eye, I picture a group of my friends or family members, a bottle of wine or some beers scattered around the table, some food potentially as well, and everyone either listening or laughing.
Even though the exact details can get hazy over time, the punchlines remain unchanged and we ravenously eat them up like it’s the first time we’re hearing them, every time.
Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: When you try to bridge the gap with a story, sharing one of your personal “oldies but goodies” with a new person or new group of people and it falls completely flat. Fuck those people, go back to your OGs.