“Do I have room for a yay-me story?” I used to ask my girlfriend before launching in to one of them. I wanted to know that I had done enough for her on that day to tolerate a few minutes of me being an utter bore. Because yay-me stories are such cliches, they are so awful to listen to, but they are so fun to tell. “So and so said some stupid thing and I made a witty rejoinder — aren’t I clever?” Your mom is always glad to hear one, if she hasn’t seen you for a while. Your spouse will let you get away with it on the understanding that they will get to tell one when you are done. No one minds them when everyone is drunk. The yay-me story is the Karaoke of personal narrative.
And the tedium extends beyond the strict word pattern given above. Variations include the boring presentation by a so-called expert which is punctured by the tellers cutting question. The presumptive leading question which is shut down by a catastrophic “access denied” of the resource the question is leading to. This last category can be astoundingly diverse — clever parents outwitting their young children, attractive desirables shutting down suitors, put upon neighbors protecting their lawn mowers. In fact, here is a suggested definition: Any story staring you, containing no real information, told for the purpose of congratulating yourself for being awesome and soliciting the assent of the victim who you are regaling.
We say that the point of the story is to show how rude people can be, to show how far standards of education have slid, to share methods of hiding resources from users — but the real point is just “Yay me!” — and however much you write like you speak, you should never never write them down. It’s not that your readers don’t care just as much as the people in your life who let you get away with them — the people in your life actually don’t care either — but they have the chance of pay-back. They have a song coming up on the Karaoke list and they know you will listen — your reader does not have that recourse. In that light your written “Yay me!” story is a lot like having selfish oral sex with 100 strangers. Don’t do it if you want any of them to call you back. And if you want to be really cool (like I am) then you might even want to ask your fellow Karaoke buddies before you grab them by the ears, just to make sure you aren’t hogging the rotation.
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