No Matter What Happens, I Won’t Break Eye Contact Until Your Story Ends
I can see you’re beginning to get nervous. Moments ago you had all six people at the table locked into this story about the time Willem Dafoe sat down next to you at the Apple Store, but now there are just three of us paying attention. Please don’t judge yourself for feeling this crippling anxiety so intensely; it’s only natural to worry you might lose us all. The truth is that your worst nightmare is not only possible but likely. In seconds it could be you, sitting at a table surrounded by friends, telling a story to nobody but yourself like a lunatic, or worse: a loser.
I have some good news. I wish I could share it with you but I don’t want to interrupt the flow of your already choppy story. It’s anybody’s guess why you drifted off into an argument with yourself about whether or not your friend Clark was at the store with you, but, hey, it’s your tale. As long as I’m at the table, there will always be one person hanging on your every word: I won’t abandon you. For I never exit someone’s story before it’s finished. I mean never.
Shoot, we just lost the attention of one of your remaining listeners to the sleeping baby on your left. I’m not sure why he quit on you. I, for one, thought the ten-minute description of Willem Dafoe’s iCloud problem was interesting. I’m not sure it moved the story forward, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who wishes he could merge Apple ID’s.
Uh-oh, there goes our other listener, so bored by the endless description of the Apple Genius assigned to your issue that she asked the old man on her right to list his top ten favorite soups from worst to best. It’s down to just you and me.
You wouldn’t look so scared if you knew some of the stories I’ve seen to the end. One time I stayed on a subway ten stops past my apartment just so an old man could finish telling me about the day he knew he had to leave the scrimshaw business. I didn’t quit on him, a stranger in a latex bodysuit, and I won’t quit on you.
Jesus, I can see that you’re thinking about bailing on this crap story yourself. Don’t do it. Please don’t do it, especially when we just got to the part where Willem’s iCloud problem is resolved and you finally have the chance to tell him how much you loved his work in xXx: State of the Union. I can just feel a payoff coming! Besides, there’s nothing in this world more depressing than watching someone mumble a premature ending to their story. These deserters won’t know what you did because, well, you might as well be dead-to-them, but I’ll know. And you’ll know. We’ll know. I want you to land this plane more than anybody, but I don’t want you to put it down in the damn ocean.
And there it is. Mercifully, we reach the conclusion of your tale. You said the story had a twist and, boy, did it ever. So, the guy wasn’t Willem Dafoe, after all? In other words, you just told a thirty-minute story about seeing a guy who wasn’t Willem Dafoe. I politely laugh after you deliver the uninspired final line: “The funniest part was that he had never even heard of Willem Dafoe!” At least you ended on a truth. That was, indeed, the funniest part. Now I can finally get in on this soup conversation.