The old flame: A tweeted story
When you tell a story on Twitter, you assemble it into 140 character or fewer bits and distribute it into the stream. It is different than telling a story face-to-face, or writing it out straight through. Each bit has to be somehow complete. It has to be able to live on its own. When it gets cast into the stream, it will separate from the others. The only way someone will be able to piece together the whole story is if they get intrigued by the relationship between two of the tweets, and then begin to explore back and forward in your stream to piece together the whole story. If they don’t, all they’ll see is the one Tweet floating by. If you’ve told your story well, even that one Tweet can make some impression on them.
Here is a story that I tweeted yesterday. Each paragraph is one tweet. When you reassemble the pieces, there’s an intriguing and compact elegance to the pace of the language. Enjoy. (And yes, I know there’s a typo in the Tweet above, but that’s the beauty of Twitter…you get what you get, flaws and all.)
The parents of a girl I dated for a long time got divorced when we were together. It was a painful divorce that left them both lost.
I liked the mother. She seemed to genuinely like me. That was rare among my girlfriends’ mothers. (Something I’ve never figured out.)
She was very gentle to my kids. That is a very important way to assess a person’s qualities.
The father respected me begrudgingly. He was successful and I’d achieved a fair amount of professional success at a young age.
He was a violent man incapable of being faithful to his wife. He was also paranoid. Those qualities doomed their marriage.
When they divorced, their youngest child was finishing high school The others were grown. The divorce was very hard for the kids.
I empathized. My parents divorced when I was 27. I was surprised at the impact it had on our family and how I thought about my own life.
The mother was not comfortable putting herself out to meet people, but she was lonely and wanted somewhere to put her love.
This all happened before things like match.com. She was in her early 50’s. She was heavy but attractive. She had a very earnest heart.
Out of the blue, after a couple of years of divorce, an old flame from college called her. They talked on the phone.
He was married and had several children. He had moved to San Francisco. He was successful, but had also had some bad breaks. He was nice.
He was excited to talk with her again. They made promsies to talk again. Then, one of his children was visiting New York, so he called.
He wondered if she would show his daughter around. She did. She was smitten with the young woman.
She and her old flame started talking more frequently. He wasn’t happy in his marriage. She talked about going to visit him.
But it was all the way across the country, so she felt safe. We warned her that this wasn’t good for her.
We asked her if she felt all right deceiving the other wife when she had been so frequently deceived. She said that his wife was cold.
During this time her daughter and I ended our relationship. I don’t know how the story ended.
But I have always wondered whether it was an idle corrupt dalliance or whether they had each found their true love in the other.