Telling Someone Else’s Tale

I was at a special edition of The Stoop last week, and something about the the way one of the readers was introduced stuck with me. The always-awesome Lily Be presented Erica Clark by saying Erica’s story was one she’d told to other people because even though it wasn’t her story, it was so interesting and WTF (for lack of a better word) she had to repeat it. It got me thinking about when I tell other people’s stories, and that idea in general – when something hits you so hard, makes you laugh so deep, or is so flat-out weird that you have to share. It has nothing to do with you, but that something makes you want to tell it again and again.

It makes me curious: When do you tell other people’s stories? What sticks with you enough to repeat when it’s not about you?

Some other people’s stories I keep coming back to:

  • How one of my best friends got her pet bird. She was working in a pet store and had no idea parrots lived for a million years. Then I pull up this picture.
  • That time my mom got caught shoplifting as a teenager, the girl that was also caught, and how they both got off.
  • My friend Wendy’s story about going to a survivalist camp. Or how she found out about canned butter. She has a lot of good stories, okay?

Bonus – when I asked my dude for an example, he pulled up this one immediately. It has a lot of the elements I think make a story get around: a faint but present personal connection, tension, and shock value. Like most stories, it’s better told in person. Sorry. If you run into us, I’ll make him tell it.


Tim went to a party and a guy told Tim this story, so I told it to people in Ann Arbor. Every time someone new showed up, I had to tell it – I got really good at telling it.

Essentially, this guy knew a guy who was with some friends in Florida. They were out on a boat, drinking a lot, and they were really drunk. They see a manatee swimming by. This guy’s friend is really drunk and he’s like, “Do you dare me to jump on this manatee?” His friends are like no, that’s stupid.

He’s super, super drunk though, so he’s super excited about it. But no one really wants him to jump on this manatee. He’s so drunk that like, he thinks that they all want him to do it.

He stands there and says “1…2…3!”, and jumps off the side of the boat. He jumps on top of the manatee.

He jumps through the manatee. The manatee was dead and it was decaying.

He’s kind of stuck in this manatee and they have to drag him out of it.

You have to embellish a bunch of stuff though….like, he jumps into it and just starts throwing up on himself.