Repetition can ruin writer's reputation by Bob Karolevitz The trouble with growing older � I just had my 81st birthday � is that you can�t remember how many times you told the same story to the same people.
In one�s lifetime there are just so many things worth telling, and if you�re not careful, you repeat them over and over to folks who�ve heard it before.
When I was on the rubber chicken circuit making speeches to different groups, I had it worked out real well. I could give the same talk � with the same jokes � each time because the audience changed.
Then it began to catch up on me!
Before long I noticed that the guys and gals whom I had seen at a livestock banquet also showed up at a chamber of commerce dinner. Good grief! They�d heard the same stuff on another occasion. I hoped their memory was bad.
I tried varying the material for a time, but in the end there was only one way out. I quit!
Phyllis gives me a bad time by asking: �Can�t you come up with something new?� Then she says: �I�ve heard that same thing a thousand times� � which is her way of telling me to cut it off.
Well, when I was working those banquet bashes, she�d sit through the same speech lots of times, smiling wife-like at the head table. She could even lip-sync it, but that was different. Now a little bit of repetition brings out the worst in her.
I�ve tried the line: �Stop me if you�ve heard this one.� And she stops me! Before you know it, I�ll be mute.
When I go to coffee with the guys, I get frustrated. There are times when I have a pertinent quip to fit into the conversation, and then I ask myself: How many times have I used the same bon mot with the same bunch of fellows?
That audience doesn�t change all that much.
I suppose, though, that it�s a good thing that I remember all those gags and anecdotes. I�ve got a lot of associates who don�t, for one reason or another. Trouble is, my memory machine sputters to a halt when I try to recall if I�ve told it, not just once but for the upteenth time.
There�s probably a pill for it. Goodness knows they�ve got them for everything else. On the other hand, why should I care?
If I recall something for the hundredth time, my listeners will no doubt just chalk it up to my dotage. Or worse yet, maybe they weren�t paying attention in the first place.
Fortunately I keep files of my old columns so I don�t duplicate them, too. Sometimes I write about the same subject � sheep, for instance � but I always try to give it a different slant. It�s a fetish with me. I hate it when i repeat myself.
I do all right with the written word. I pay lots of attention to what I�ve said before. It�s the oral part that gives me fits.
By the way, have I done a column like this before? I should have checked my files.
� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz