A brief rant, about a person who is terrible at telling stories and does it anyway:
I think the thing that bugs me so much about listening to her telling stories is that there’s this affected (or aped?) tone of informativeness that totally clashes with the complete lack of insightful content. She’s trying to sound like she’s telling you something, but she’s really not telling you much of anything at all. It doesn’t feel like some blowhard trying to sound impressive by dressing up the story a bit more than he should, though; and it’s not even like she’s telling a legitimate story that happens to be boring (something we all do sometimes). No:
It’s like she’s just sort of trying to do that Telling Stories thing that she sees other people do, but she isn’t any good at it—just fundamentally doesn’t get it. She’s relating the things she saw, or the things she heard other people say they saw in some previous conversation on the subject; but she’s just blindly regurgitating facts and observations. No skill, no nuance, no greater narrative thread, no evidence that she’s got any idea whether anything she says at any point actually adds to the meaning of her complete utterance. It’s not a story, it’s just a bunch of clauses strung together with conjunctions. Like watching a kid try to cuss. It’s boggling to me that an otherwise functional adult person could be so tremendously bad at something so basic.
And the nervous (or, more cruelly, senseless?) laughter after every goddam statement does not help. I know that laugh. I had that laugh, when I was eleven and hopelessly socially crippled in middle school and afraid (justified by experience) that my witticisms would earn me small acts of personal violence. And so I would say something potentially clever, but then I would laugh defensively. Perhaps utter a little instinctive “no…” as well, as if to say, “no, I’m just kidding, please don’t take offense, I’m just goofing.” I grew out of it. It took some effort, and it took some growth as a person, but, well, there you go, perhaps: does she not have anyone who pushes back, conversationally? No one to encourage her to collect her ideas, and then to assert them with confidence when she chooses to speak?
And that, above, is perhaps the telling thing—I cannot stand this behavior that I recognize as being a part of my own past. I’ll acknowledge it; it’s a kind of snobbery. I react because I have an emotional investment in the idea that good stories are worth the effort. I like good conversation. I like a good back-and-forth. I like to challenge and to be challenged when I’m talking to people. I like, essentially, to be able to throw out a pass with the expectation that the other person will catch it, or at least make a game effort to catch it, or at the very least realize that it was a football and that what I was doing was throwing a pass. What I do not like is having the other person blink, and blurt, “your arm just moved fast!”, and laugh nervously.