Real love is hearing the same story 300 times
Just ask anyone who's been in a long-term relationship
Have you heard the one about a flight that went down over the Indian ocean where the only survivors were Beyoncé and some random man? They end up on an uninhabited tropical island and go about erecting a shelter of sorts and finding food while waiting to be rescued.
Weeks go by until the fellow, driven mad by sexual desire, starts pestering Beyoncé to be intimate with him. As male trash does. She will have none of it.
However, after a few more weeks go by, she is also overcome by natural urges and they hump up a storm and end up falling hectically in love with each other. As people do. They spend their days swimming in the crystal blue ocean, feeding each other slices of paw-paw and coconut, having deep philosophical conversation about the meaning of life.
Life is bliss, especially for the fellow who can't believe he is with Beyoncé. But after a few months she catches him staring forlornly into space. "What can I do to make you happy again?" she asks.
So the man dresses her up in his suit and Panama hat, draws a moustache on her upper lip, pops a cigar into her mouth and asks her to walk around the perimeter of the island while he walks in the opposite direction. They meet on the other side of the island. The fellow grabs her hand, pumps it enthusiastically and yells: "Hi, my name is Stan. Boy, do I have a story to tell you! You will not believe who my girlfriend is!"
The most popular interpretation of this story is that there's no point in having something incredible happen to a man if he can't brag about it to another man.
But for me the outstanding bit is that, no matter how happy one is in any relationship, there comes a point when you run out of things to talk about. You have heard every anecdote, every joke, every theory and every pearl of wisdom the other person has to tell.Married folks know what I'm talking about. After 15 years of marital bliss you begin each story with, "I don't know if I've told you about the time I was trying to take a whizz at a urinal in Port Elizabeth airport and my wiener got stuck in the zipper …"
If it's true and everlasting love, she pretends she's hearing it for the first time, before throwing her head back and howling with laughter. However, if you've been a bad boy and only got back home at 1am after last night's World Cup viewing session with the fellows, as soon as you start, she cuts you off: "Yeah, yeah and then you had to ask for help from the bathroom cleaner while hobbling on one foot ... You must have told that story 300 times."
I was thinking about this phenomenon the other day while eavesdropping on an exchange between my 13-year-old, who is home from boarding school in the KZN Midlands for the winter holidays. He has obviously collected new stories in his first few months away. But by the third day I hear him say, "Did I tell you about the boy we call Woggy and how he ...?' The 10-year-old cuts him off mid-sentence, "Yes, you told me that story when you were last here", followed by a long silence.
Of course, there is more than one way to skin this cat. A friend tells me there was once a pair of mental health facility patients who had been roommates for over 30 years. A new nurse overheard what she thought was a bizarre scene between them. One chap would yell out "number 34!" and the other fellow would roll around the floor in laughter. Then the second bloke would yell, "number 67!" , with the same effect.
Older nurses explained that they had lived together so long they had catalogued their favourite jokes and they needed to do was say the number to get a good laugh.
I reckon Mrs N and I are halfway towards our own system. Sometimes she'll start laughing spontaneously. When I ask what's so funny she goes, "I just thought of the chairman falling" and I join in, remembering the incident at the SABC studios that our minister of finance will never live down.