Perpetually Peeved

So there I was…

Let me start this post by saying thank you all for missing me.  Apparently, my blog gets just as many hits when I don’t post as when I do… I don’t know exactly how to feel about that.  Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

So, I need a vacation from my vacation.  Every time I go back “home” I swear I’m never going back.  There’s just too much to do and see and eat – too much trying to make everyone happy and only succeeding in making no one happy.  Know what I mean?  I’m making you all t-shirts:  Perpetually Peeved went to NY and all I got were these lousy rants.  There’s that at least.  And, the fried clams.  Those were amazing. 

These were not too shabby either... Cheesesteak/Pizza steak from Jim's in Philly

Let’s start with the Peeved family reunion.  Family reunions are always fun. My big, Italian side of the family has a reunion every July 4th.  This year was the 37th annual picnic.  I hadn’t been to one in about 10 years.  So, it was nice to see everyone again even if I couldn’t recognize half of my cousins.  

What I did recognize were the stories.  You know what I’m talking about.  Every family has them.  The stories that are told every time you get together, no matter how many times you’ve gotten together.  Now, hearing these stories made me come to a realization.  There are those who are meant to tell stories and there are those who are meant to listen.  It should be apparent who is who.  If you are telling the story of the time Grandma left the pits in the cherries when she cooked the pie and find yourself off on a tangent about the exact shade of purple you wore to Aunt Matilda’s wedding, then you should not be telling the story.  Leave it to the professionals. 

All stories in my family require a complete ensemble cast to tell the tale.  You have the STORY TELLER, the FACT CHECKER, the CORRECTOR, the INSTIGATOR, the UNDERMINER, the TANGENTIAL CONVERSER, the TOPPER, the POSER, and the VIRTUAL CENTER OF ATTENTION.  Let’s review: 

INSTIGATOR:  Remember that time that Grandma left the pits in the cherry pie?  STORY TELLER, tell that story you tell it best. 

STORY TELLER:  Oh, gosh.  That was great.  So, we were all sitting around the table, and mom had been baking this pie all afternoon.  We wolfed down dinner and were all set to eat this pie that we had been smelling for hours.  So, mom brings out the dessert plates and puts them in front of us and then sets down a little bowl next to each dessert plate. 

FACT CHECKER:  No, CORRECTOR would have gotten the bowls, that was always his job.  

CORRECTOR:  Yes, I put out the bowls, and it wasn’t a bowl for every plate.  Mom would never want to do that many dishes.  She would have only had me put out two bowls – one for each side of the table. 

STORY TELLER:  Well, it’s funnier when there’s a bowl for every plate. 

UNDERMINER:  Oh, don’t tell me… the bowls were for the pits that she forgot to take out of the pie. 

STORY TELLER:  Am I telling this story here, or what? 

TANGENTIAL CONVERSER: Grandma totally wouldn’t have put out a bowl for every plate.  She used to make us drink out of disposable dixie cups.  Do you remember that?  I think I was still drinking out of those cups when I was 22. 

TOPPER:  Yeah, that was a funny story, but remember that time that Grandpa pretended to hate the cat for years and then cried like a baby when it died?  Tell that story. 

STORY TELLER:  Okay, so one year your uncle Stanley brings home this stray cat. 

CORRECTOR:  Actually, it was Merle.  Merle brought the cat home. 

STORY TELLER:  What difference does it make?  One of us kids brought the stupid cat home.  We begged Ma to keep it. 

POSER: Yeah, then when she said yes, a couple of years later it died and Grandpa cried like a baby. 

STORY TELLER:  Well, there you have it.  There was the story. 

VIRTUAL CENTER OF ATTENTION:  Oh, I remember that, he cried like a baby it was, like, so funny. 

STORY TELLER:  You weren’t even born yet. 

VIRTUAL CENTER OF ATTENTION: Oh, I wasn’t?  Why are we telling stories that don’t involve me? 

FACT CHECKER:  Well, actually, it was in 1981 because I was in 12th grade and had just taken my SAT the night that Merle brought home the cat.  So, technically VCoA was born, but not old enough to remember it. 

STORY TELLER:  Oh, for the love of Pete, where’s my beer? 

Moral of the story (pun intended): 

  • If you don’t know how to tell a story, don’t.
  • If you want someone else to tell the story, don’t give away the punch line in your introduction.
  • Don’t correct or fact check the storyteller.  Remember, the storyteller knows what they are doing and is probably embellishing or omitting depending on what makes for a good story.  It’s called creative license and editing.
  • Don’t interrupt the story.
  • Don’t ask the storyteller to tell the story just so you can interject and tell the story yourself anyway.
  • Don’t wait for a break in the story to interject with your own.
  • Don’t try to make the story yours if it isn’t.
  • Don’t try to “top” stories.
  • Don’t forget to take the pits out of the cherries before you cook the pie!

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20 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The clams did look hot. (Can I put that on a t-shirt?)

Are you sure it’s a good sign that your blog gets hits whether you are here or not? 🙂

In my experience those who should speak and those who should listen always assume the exact opposite role. Quite frustrating, really. Very keen of you to notice! 🙂

Great post. I loved the way you wrote up the storytelling. 🙂

Comment by shoutabyss

hmm.. I’d buy it.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Thank you, although I can’t take much credit for retelling the storytelling. It happened pretty much exactly like that! 😉

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

This all sounds oddly familiar…I believe you are (sadly) right on target.

Comment by Average Girl

Virtual center of attention…..great! I think every family has one of those…. No, I am not the VCOA in my family…. 🙂

Comment by redriverpak

What a telling summary of the family saga narration process. Without being rude is it your own work? Cos if so deserves chiseling into stone and giving to all kids when they attain 18 years old

Comment by davehambo

Yes, my own work. Funny, I was writing the post in my head as I was sitting at the table. It’s all true, I’ve just pieced it together for easy reading. 🙂

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

May I amend your Morals of the Story? The first thing is to say “where’s my beer?” first. Chug it and family reunions get -that- much better.

And man…now I wanna go to Jim’s! Haven’t been there in FOREVER. I guess that’s payback for you hitting your head on your monitor.

Comment by Pop

Yes! Payback, indeed. Although, I still think about that brisket. I never did understand the allure of the pizza steak until I went to Jim’s. Dang, that’s good stuff!

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

That conversation was awesome! Um, I mean, mint!
I want to hand out your story telling rules to some people I know, especially the one: Don’t try to “top” stories. I hate it when I tell a perfectly entertaining story and then some a-hole has to pipe up with, “well one time I thumb-wrestled a lion.” Seriously?

Comment by Amy

Yes, mint! Totally rad! Toppers bite it. Although, they do pose a sort of dare to counter-top. Like, come up with the most ridiculous shit you can think of to see if they try to beat it.

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

Uh-oh…I am definitely the instigator. I love hearing family stories, and I always say, “Grandma, tell the story where Uncle Eddie punched his fist through the wall.”

Comment by thoughtsappear

I don’t have a problem with the instigator, we need one of those. I just hate when the instigator gives away the punchline. You don’t do that, do you?

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

Sometimes…only because no one will know what story I mean if I don’t.

Comment by thoughtsappear

Ah, da stories in da Tallian familia. Ain’t nothing like Tallian tainted English mixed with Brooklynese. “Youse undastanda?” Anyway we were all 2,3, 4, 8, years old or so (Ike was Prez)and after the 295th course of the meal attended by at least 60 at grandma’s, the dozen old men went out on the porch and did cigars and liqueurs. This was to kill time while da woman put out the 296th course. And we had to listen to the stories of their long ago youth and the stuff (wish they’d put out the stinky cigars)
about Sicily and fighting the other ethnics when dey got here. We were not listening, just waiting. For them to go inside. And then like the Marine Corps hitting the beach at Iwo Jima we hit the amaretto, zambuca, and anisette. And got hammered. I mean GASSED. Such fond memories of childhood. The road to eventual rehab was paved very early for us. It was worth it! They also taught us how to play poker and shoot dice before we learned the alphabet. (well out of range of suspecting mothers of course). Life skills all, would ya say? Ain’t nuttin likka Tallian childhood in News Yorka.

Comment by Carl D'Agostino

Yes, sir. I get drunk off just the aroma of black licorice. Did your papa put the coffee bean in his zambuca?

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

He used to put the coffee bean in but stupid Stephanie put one up her nose and had to go to the hospital and….ooops sorry,your blog, your stories only. This one would use up all my ink anyway.

Comment by Carl D'Agostino

Best. Spam. Ever.

Comment by perpetuallypeeved

That is beautiful! You get all the best spam.

Comment by Amy

[…] So there I was… […]

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