Maybe My Favorite Short Story…

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About a year ago I shared this story, written by Charlie Kaufman (here’s the link). I’m going to share it again. I’ve had a year to think about it and why I like it. Here’s the story, word for word:

I’ll tell you this little story. There’s something inherently cinematic about it. I run in my neighbourhood, and one day I ran past this guy running in the other direction: an older guy, a big hulky guy. He was struggling, huffing and puffing. I was going down a slight hill and he was coming up. So he passes me and he says: “Well, sure, it’s all downhill that way.” I loved that joke. We made a connection. So I had it in my head that this is a cool guy, and he’s my friend now.

A few weeks later, I’m passing him again, and I’m thinking: “There’s the guy that’s cool.” As we pass each other, he says: “Well, sure, it’s all downhill that way.” So I think: “Oh, OK. He’s got a repertoire. I’m not that special. He’s probably said it to other people, maybe he doesn’t remember me … but OK.” I laughed, but this time my laugh was a little forced.

Then I pass him another time, and he says it again. And this time he’s going downhill and I’m going uphill, so it doesn’t even make sense. And I started to feel pain about this, because I’m embarrassed for him and I think maybe there’s something wrong with him. And then it just keeps happening. I probably heard it seven or eight more times. I started to avoid him.

In my mind it is so well-written. I was attached to it a year ago when I first read it and I think I like it more now than ever. There is no big reason why, but there are some little reasons:

  1. I like that the author likes the older guy right off the bat. I like liking people from the start.
  2. I’ve always liked the word “repertoire”. I can’t spell it correctly but I bet I say it three times a week. I try hard to say it.
  3. I like the part that states, “And I started to feel pain about this…”. “Pain” is the perfect word for how I feel about certain little situations.
  4. The next part of that sentence “…because I’m embarrassed for him…” is great. I thought I was the only person who felt that.

I’m going to think about this story for another year and post about it in October 2014.


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