So Jaym Gates linked to this piece – The Ten Commandments Of Flirting, Or: How Not To Be Creepy At Atheist Conventions. She said, “I want to include these rules in every con packet EVER. These rules aren’t just for atheist conventions.” So of course, I clicked, because I really don’t want to be That Guy, and was pleasantly happy to realize that (I think) I follow all of them.
This quote on respecting people’s time stuck out, however:
“If you want to tell someone else an anecdote, make it short and get right to the point.”
As someone who tells a lot of stories, I realized that there are certain tales I just don’t tell at conventions. I’ve learned that my more involved tales (like this little doozy) won’t work, because con space really doesn’t allow a story of over a minute; people are coming and going and interrupting to say hello to old friends, and other folks are wanting their space to share, and if there’s a lot of setup then you basically have to arm-wrestle the table into listening to you.
It’s not like a dinner, where if you say, “This one takes a bit,” you can get some room for a five-minute monologue. As people’s attentions wander, you’ll get a third of the way through the story and get to the first punchline, and people will think you’re done. So if you’re committed, you have to either wave someone to shut up, or start up again after they tell their story, both of which are kind of dickish.
No big deal. I just tell short stories. And in the hullabaloo, sometimes I don’t even finish those. It’s cool. I’m there to listen to other people, not to spout my old tales to other people.
But it’s a little weird to realize that subconsciously, I’ve not only got enough stories to tell, but I have marked many of them as space-appropriate. This one’s a good con story. This one’s a good one to tell sitting in my living room. This one’s a good one to tell in a crowd of four to six people. I can think of a story and instantly know what social milieu I think it fits into, which is an odd thing to realize about how much I think about stories.
Then again, I’ve sat at the con when That Guy keeps going, “No, no, you gotta listen, and then – get this – this happened.” And at a con, no tale is amusing enough to be worth hijacking an entire table’s worth of people for ten minutes. Just trust me on that.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.