Getting more long winded as you age (AKA Abe Simspon Syndrome)

Why is it that as a person ages, they seem to have a harder time getting to the point when telling a story?

And I’m not referring to the similar trope of the forgetful storyteller losing his train of thought completely. I’m talking about the situation where the speaker gets mired in seemingly extraneous exposition that, while related to the subject at hand, does little to lend much impact to the story. Kind of like going into a lengthy detailed account of whales, whaling, and the history of seafaring just to tell you the story of a mad sea captain’s raging hate-boner for an albino whale.

I ask this because I’m starting to catch myself doing it now. More and more often, I find me interrupting myself mid story to say “long story short” and wrapping it up because I realize too late that a Homeric epic is not the best format to recount the time my fart stank so bad the dog stopped begging for food and left the kitchen altogether.

Anyone else noticing themselves doing this? Of all the signs of aging I’ve been looking out for (hair migration, rising waistline, growing belief that the only way to save the promiscuous drug addicted youth with bad taste in music is by keeping them off lawns), this one really snuck up on me.


Practice writing poetry. It’s the art of compressing all the interesting bits out of a tale, after all.

The conceit that I’m a terribly interesting person is something I thought I’d had beaten out of me by life segued from my 20’s into my 30’s. However, I do notice this Nasty little muse re asserting itself during conversation: “hey, I’ve lived through events that these younger people haven’t. They will be fascinated!”

[Ninotchka]Supress it![/Ninotchka]

Also, as we age, let’s face it, society marginalizes us. We don’t get the opportunities to talk like we did back on college. We have a lot bottled up: uncork at your own peril.

Luckily, however, I have somehow acquired the realization that goodwill is built not by impressing others, but by looking for what’s impressive about them.


Not me.

I do it. But then again, I did it when I was young, not that young anymore, and middle aged.

How else can we educate young people about the past popularity of tying onions to belts and the use of “dickety” instead of twenty?

I used to do it–for instance, when I was young I told my parents’ friends all about the summer camp I went to in 1977–you remember 1977 don’t you? it was the year that was real hot, people’s shoes melted in Texas! but we hadn’t been to Texas then that wasn’t until '82 when my aunt got married, she married a Texan but anyway I went to camp in Kentucky and I was in the backpacking unit and there was a bat in the tent. They wouldn’t allow that nowadays, didja here about the girl scouts last year that had to get rabies shots when a bat came in? No one cared about rabies back then, it was Mountain Laurel Fever we were scared of, we heard it might of killed a guy in Tennessee. Or maybe the heat got him. That was in '77 and it was real hot…

My wife would probably tell you that I didn’t need to age to suffer from that “syndrome”. :slight_smile:

Did I ever tell you about grandfather’s old ram?

Let me tell you about how I met your mother …

I’ve had the opposite experience: I’ve gotten more concise with age.

I think posting here has had a lot to do with that. Debating issues in GD has been a real school in making arguments that are as short and focused as reasonably possible. The more clear you’ve made your point and your support for it, the harder it will be to rebut.

I think posting to Facebook and Twitter helps. I don’t post too much to Twitter but when I do I always have to sit there and edit the heck out of it to get my point across. Same with texting. If you want to get something said before your text-ee can reply, better make it quick!

With Facebook you don’t have to be succinct but I try to. They do trim your posts with a “see more” after so many characters. I usually think about what I’m going to say for a few hours at least before I say it. Of course you don’t have the luxury of doing so when you’re conversing in person but still it helps you hone the skill of brevity.

On the SDMB I just go on and on and on :slight_smile:

I haven’t tested it out, but I’d bet if you asked some old fart about what they did in college, you’d get this rambling long story, because as they’re telling the story, they’re remembering long dormant memories and they’re just shooting out of their mouth, stream-of-consciousness style.

I bet that if you asked the same old fart about what he did earlier that morning, you might get a much more concise story.

Or take journalism courses. I took a few in college, when they still taught the old-fashioned pyramid lead. It was great training in getting right to the point.

Enjoy it while it lasts! You’ll never be a better age to trap your younger fellows into a story that goes nowhere than now!

I’ve become much more conscious of other people’s time and attention span as I have aged. Granted, I’m only 42 so maybe things will change when I’m a fogey.

If in the middle of your adulthood you are getting MORE oblivious, there is something wrong with you. The experience between your teenaged years and adulthood is supposed to make more more aware of other people’s feelings.