Day 28 – Cliché a Day: To Make A Long Story Short

By Deb DeArmond

I committed to 30 days of clichés and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. I added an intro on Day 1 and it still leaves me three days. So, the next three days are personal favorites.

“So to make a long story short,” she said…… but didn’t.

Ever notice when someone prefaces their story with this statement, the story can be rather, well, lengthy?

It’s as though they know it’s going to be a bit longwinded, but they’re going to tell it anyway, and this is an advance warning that you should prepare yourself. It comes across like an apology for their story as it requires a few more minutes of your time than they believe you are willing to invest.

I love a good story. And often, the story relies on the details in order to be good. It creates context and adds richness that adds to the enjoyment of the listener. Leaving out the details is like leaving the whipped cream and cherry off the banana split. It’s tasty, but it’s just not satisfying.

As my mother aged, she sometimes found it difficult to recall all the details of a story. It made for frustrating interactions. They went something like this:  “Oh, Deb, I ran into one of your friends at the grocery store. I can’t remember her name, but you went all through school together. You know her – she’s tall, and has long hair. Anyway, she told me that she’s expecting triplets and has just been made president of her company. Or was it president of the PTA? And there was something about an inheritance, too, I think. I can’t recall all the details, but – isn’t it wonderfully exciting?”

Well it would be, Mom, if I had some idea of who it was.

I don’t even mind the long story, and please don’t skimp on the details. But don’t tell me a lengthy story if you’ve promised me a short one. I’m ready for the Cliffs’ Notes version and I get the Encyclopedia Britannica. Please, tell the story without the pre-emptive disclaimer; it’s rarely accurate anyway.

So, tell me your story.  Make me laugh, make me cry, but please don’t make me wonder, “If this is the short version, how long would the full unedited story have taken to tell???”

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