HOLY SHIT WHAT A TRILOGY
June 9, 2019 3:22 PM   Subscribe

ONE
My dad died. Classic start to a funny story. He was buried in a small village in Sussex. I was really close to my dad so I visited his grave a lot. I still do. [DON’T WORRY, IT GETS FUNNIER.] (Twitter | Threadreader)

TWO
We had two children and last year they said they wanted to go to Disneyland. We saved up and booked it but rather than say sure you want to go to Disneyland let’s go to Disneyland, we decided to make them earn it. I told them they needed to raise £3,000. (Twitter | Threadreader)

THREE
I lived next door to a couple called Lucy and Tim. They were both lovely but very different to one another. He was a gregarious GET IN HERE AND DRINK CHAMPAGNE WITH ME type, she was far more reserved. (Twitter | Threadreader)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (60 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 
More of a funny awwwww than a funny haha.
posted by joedan at 3:26 PM on June 9


Oh that was lovely and just what I needed this morning. Thank you.
posted by arha at 4:28 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


YOU PROBABLY WON’T EVEN HAVE A HANGOVER YOU CLOWN.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:29 PM on June 9 [32 favorites]


These are absolutely amazing and too good to check.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:36 PM on June 9 [16 favorites]


I believed the first one of these when I saw it on Facebook and now I don't believe them anymore and it doesn't even matter because this is going to be the A & B plots of the best holiday ensemble movie ever.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:48 PM on June 9 [23 favorites]




I think that there's pretty much no chance that it's true, but it's a great little piece of micro-fiction.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:56 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Definitely the best thing I've ever read on twitter.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:10 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I think that there's pretty much no chance that it's true, but it's a great little piece of micro-fiction.

What's the deal with this kind of response to nice anecdotes told on the internet? What's the metric by which a pleasant anecdote is deemed true or not? Must it be fact-checked? Must a witness show up to be like "yeah, I was there, it happened!" Does the user have to be verified? Does there have to be just the right amount of detail? Is there some glaring factual error in any of these anecdotes that suggests they're untrue? What value does this add to discussion of an anecdote that's not meant to be newsworthy, but just, you know, nice or funny or delightfully weird?

People do this on the internet all the time, and I don't get it. I've never seen anyone IRL listen to someone's anecdote and just go "yeah, that didn't happen. thanks for the story though!" unless it's definitely a tall tale on the order of, like, alien abduction or something, or friends bullshitting each other.
posted by yasaman at 5:15 PM on June 9 [36 favorites]


I'm delighted to have read these on this fine evening, and even more delighted to share them. (Which I have).
posted by meinvt at 5:20 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I did it to someone in real life, but he was telling me about his friend who worked in a daycare who definitely totally had to take care of a girl called "L-A," pronounced "Ladasha." He didn't also claim to know Oranjello and Lemonjello, but I wouldn't have put it past him. He was very angry when I told him that this was a racist urban legend because it had been one of his cherished "look how dumb black people are" stories for years.
posted by Scattercat at 5:22 PM on June 9 [24 favorites]


People do this on the internet all the time, and I don't get it. I've never seen anyone IRL listen to someone's anecdote and just go "yeah, that didn't happen. thanks for the story though!" unless it's definitely a tall tale on the order of, like, alien abduction or something, or friends bullshitting each other.
I guess because, if the first one were true, it would be a really glib way of talking about something terribly sad and traumatic that happened to his now-wife, and I would feel kind of bad about having laughed at it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:33 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


FOUR
So we're driving my newly purchased Honda Shadow 750 up to the wedding when I notice a strange package WRAPPED IN TINFOIL...
posted by gwint at 5:55 PM on June 9 [30 favorites]


I expected each one of these to turn out something like this.
posted by painquale at 5:56 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Murder podcasts and wife guys are both big these days, this guy is just doing cross-marketing.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:56 PM on June 9 [24 favorites]


People do this on the internet all the time, and I don't get it.

It’s this dynamic that happens with viral internet stuff (often on Twitter) where someone posts a thread like this, and it often involves a person (not the narrator) who’s suffered extreme loss or hardship and the usually very jovial narrator coming to the rescue, usually somewhat haplessly or inadvertently (because the stories are usually funny, so he can’t be a straight up hero). And when they turn out to be untrue, or the narrator gets milkshake ducked, it leaves a really bad taste in the mouth, because who would make up a story about, you know, a domestic murder-suicide and someone suffering homelessness and an attempted suicide and Disneyland? I mean, yikes. So then the next time a twitter thread goes viral, the people who fell for the last one pause and think of that queasy feeling from before. Truth really is stranger than fiction, so...who knows! Maybe this one is true. But that’s why at this point I pass these stories by with a little side eye. And usually I would just not comment but I get why people do.
posted by sallybrown at 5:57 PM on June 9 [41 favorites]


I don't know on the truthiness of it all, but I'd love to know how Lucy and the homeless guy somehow got together.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:04 PM on June 9


Just got through one story after googling for 'double murder train' and think I'm gonna let someone else takeover on the internet detective work.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:09 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Incidentally "Four Ibuprofen and a Couple of Gins" is the name of my new solo piano blues album.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:32 PM on June 9 [24 favorites]


How the fuck do you walk up to a homeless man you befriended earlier and say, "Hey my kids want us to give you £3000 but we're definitely using that money for Disneyland instead can you please help me convince them Disneyland is more important than you are?"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:32 PM on June 9 [34 favorites]


It appears that several of the original tweets in the first thread can't be seen by me so this thread was a very confusing experience for me. Specifically the tweets where he talks about the murder suicide and that the dead guy's family member was his future wife. Before I read the thread reader link it was a story about how he left flowers at some strangers grave and found out that the guy's family found out and they were confused about why someone would do that. THE END
posted by bleep at 6:46 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I've never seen anyone IRL listen to someone's anecdote and just go "yeah, that didn't happen. thanks for the story though!"

I think those things in real life, I just don't say them because that would be rude. There is less social requirement that I be tactful to a blue checkmark on twitter.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:57 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


"Four Ibuprofen and a Couple of Gins" is how you wake up.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:00 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


I've never seen anyone IRL listen to someone's anecdote and just go "yeah, that didn't happen. thanks for the story though!" You know what? I have.

It's usually when a person who tends to hone their anecdotes until they are very good stories is telling that story to an audience that includes a: 1) sibling/paremt; 2) person present when the anecdote happened; 3) childhood chum & lifelong buddy; or 4) random person in a dive bar.

I like the stories anyway.
posted by crush at 7:12 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I think those things in real life, I just don't say them because that would be rude. There is less social requirement that I be tactful to a blue checkmark on twitter.

The question of whether to default trust an anecdote, like the "Should toilet paper go over or under?" and "Do you wash your legs in the shower?" questions, seems guaranteed to fracture society in two.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:12 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Apropos of the first story, my wife's grandmother passed away now 25 years on, and she's one among a long row of markers, small and flush with the ground in a Chicago cemetery. The whole array is basically the same: names, dates, nothing more. I guess not everyone wants the massive obelisk with a grieving woman draped across carved in marble (my dad's yet to be realized preference). Anyway, my wife was very close with her grandmother and her mother never really lived without her. They'd always bring flowers, but were practical, so they were plastic and would really last. With a similar sentiment, they started to bring flowers for the neighboring markers so the grandmother would be seen favorably by those other occupants. They did this for several years before realizing that while the adjacent markers had names, they didn't have the occupants' expiration dates. They'd reserved the plots and I guess the markers got carved in preparation. If the pre-decedents ever visited for whatever reason, now they'd see signs that someone was eagerly anticipating their arrival.
posted by roue at 7:22 PM on June 9 [57 favorites]


"Hey my kids want us to give you £3000 but we're definitely using that money for Disneyland instead can you please help me convince them Disneyland is more important than you are?"

I thought the panic arose from the fact that the money was, in fact, already spent. As in, the vacation was already booked, so the £3000 was not in fact available to be given to the homeless man. It was just a way to get the kids to behave or whatever to say every time they were good, £10 went into the Disneyland fund.
posted by yasaman at 7:24 PM on June 9 [17 favorites]


What value does this add to discussion of an anecdote that's not meant to be newsworthy, but just, you know, nice or funny or delightfully weird?

It's not vitally important whether or not these anecdotes are true, but if you're not able to recognize the signs that they probably aren't, at some point you're going to get lied to about something that is important and you're going to fall for it. If the comments in this thread help someone learn to think twice and avoid being tricked, that has a heck of a lot more value than the warm feeling you get from reading and believing.
posted by Redstart at 7:28 PM on June 9 [21 favorites]


I remember when I learned that the stories in those "Chicken Soup For The Soul" books were also just made up-- I guess I'd sort of assumed there was some HONOR in the publishing world. *gasp!*
posted by The otter lady at 7:40 PM on June 9 [14 favorites]


I have a friend who still refuses to believe Go Ask Alice isn’t real.
posted by sallybrown at 7:42 PM on June 9 [11 favorites]


These are delightful.

I think arguing over whether they're "true" misses the point. Of course they almost definitely aren't, but wouldn't it be fun if they were? Stories like this are not meant to inform in any literal way, they're meant to entertain you.

And to put a little magic in the world. Imagine if every time you came across a dearly grieved father or a forgotten grave or a horrible crime or indulged children surrounded by the needy or a suicidal widow, all of that misery was upended by all those same people suddenly meeting the loves of their lives and making unexpected friends and going to lovely Xmas parties with everyone in town.

The question isn't if you believe that these stories really happened, it's if you were entertained, and if you had your imagination tickled a little bit by them. Not did you believe them, but did you like them.

If the comments in this thread help someone learn to think twice and avoid being tricked, that has a heck of a lot more value than the warm feeling you get from reading and believing.

I think the point is of course the stories are unbelievable. But after reading them, their concluding hopefulness is not unimaginable. No need to be totally hopeless and cynical when you can imagine conclusions like these could happen. Not did happen, but could.

Each story is a miniature Pandora's Box. You start each one and horrible miseries fly out left and right, but at the end there's a nice little nugget of hope.

Or that's how I choose to read them. I guess you could go the ironic route, read them sarcastically, and find them incredibly cynical. But that's not the tone I get from them, so *shrug*
posted by rue72 at 7:51 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


I saw the first story in isolation earlier, and as a standalone it seemed... possible though perhaps not probable? A little weird, but people do occasionally meet in weird ways. I got part way through the the second one and skimmed a bit of the third and said 'yeah, no'. It kind of reminded me of that twitter thread that was going around a year or two ago about the shared grave in some eastern european cemetary with elaborate backstory, which the person confessed a few days later was pure story.
posted by tavella at 8:05 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I thought the panic arose from the fact that the money was, in fact, already spent.

That's what I'm really getting at. The rational thing to do is say "Hey kids, I love that you want to do this, but that money has already been spent. We have enough to get him into a bed, so let's do that and think about more ways we can help him in the future." Then you go back to him and say "Here, we insist you take this money and we'll get into a hostel."

You don't, as the story indicates, say "Hey my kids think we have three grand to give you but we don't because we're going to Disney and can't cancel it, here's less money instead." because that is a totally nonsense thing to say to a man with nothing but what he has with him.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:08 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Last fall I visited Hope Cemetery with my family. A visit I highly recommend to anyone in central Vermont. We did the usual, strolling among the granite marvels taking occasional pictures. My father wandered down the road to see a particular monument better and came across a slightly younger couple examining the next site over. He's well past retirement and they looked to still be approaching that milestone.

They were talking together about something to fix on the site and so he struck up a conversation. He learned that they had recently purchased the plots for themselves as part of their estate planning, and had decided to have the monument set in preparation, with the carvings, their names, birth dates and so forth. That way, when it was time there would be little burden on others.

My father considered this a moment and asked if they would like a "before and after" picture. They agreed and so he took the before. He plans to return occasionally in case.
posted by meinvt at 8:09 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


I remember when I learned that the stories in those "Chicken Soup For The Soul" books were also just made up

WHAT
posted by Going To Maine at 8:12 PM on June 9 [21 favorites]


next you'll be telling me there is no Morrie, or Tuesdays
posted by um at 8:18 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Umm, about that...There is no physical evidence to say that Tuesday will actually be "Tuesday". We all just have to trust that somebody has kept count since two days after the star we call Sol came into being.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:58 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I think that there's pretty much no chance that it's true, but it's a great little piece of micro-fiction.

I was smiling big but your comment hurt my feelings so poo on you. You could have kept that to yourself.

Okay you're forgiven now.
posted by M-x shell at 9:05 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I can see the spoil-sporty aspect of "Yeah-that-didn't happen"-comments and I want to apologize in advance for following that train of thought, but as someone with the faintest writerly ambitions, I'm always interested in these debates - where does the narrator lose you? How does one create willing suspension of disbelief for improbable occurences, how does one destroy it?

For me, it's rarely the heaping of preposterous coincidences - I'm ready to buy into a lot in that regard. For instance, that grave-of-the-forbidden-lovers story from earlier - I really wanted to believe and happily went along with it for the longest time, but the lovers' letters to each other finally took me out of it. I just didn't think the prose fit the period.

Of course this discussion would be less fraught if it were really just a matter of craft, but "wanting" or "not wanting" to believe is clearly a decisive factor, and that one often hinges on tone and values. Someone's "inspiring, hopeful, uplifting" is another person's "glib, pat, cynical" and there's little point in arguing about things like that, which is what these kind of discussions can often devolve into.

For what it's worth, I didn't like the story because I found it all a bit too convenient, in a way that makes the sentimentality of it all seem lazy to me, and I feel that there can be a great danger in lazy sentimentality, in that it can make people too self-congratulatory about their own capacity for compassion and easily satisfied. But that might very well reflect more on me and my own jaded, shriveled heart than the story and its author, so this really shouldn't take away from other people's enjoyment of the hope and inspiration they might have found in it. There's still a chance that it's all true after all and I'm the one who's just too cynical.
posted by sohalt at 10:23 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Sohalt, for me it was:

Part One: Yeah, it's kinda weird, but I could see that happening...in a Mr. Bean production, but still...willing to give it benefit of the doubt. Plus, I like the way he writes, I'm willing to go along.

Part Two: Good luck getting 4 to Disney on 3k.

Part Three: Why are you in shorts and a tshirt in England at Christmas? Are you mad?

That said; I think this was lovely, and clever, and clearly not meant as anything other than a triptych of amuse bouche literary entertainment, and I am charmed and have followed him on the twitter machine.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:14 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of ASMR. It will either give you a warm glow or make your fur stand on end and cause uncontrollable growling.

Sadly, I growl.

I am a bear.
posted by fallingbadgers at 2:26 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I can't see paramedics leaving someone behind who expressed an interest in killing themselves and is telling inconsistent stories about what drugs they've taken.

I mean, if someone's having mental health issues and exaggerating their physical ailments (self-induced or not) to get a ride to the hospital, would you really say, eh, why don't you just go to the boozy Christmas party next door?
posted by smelendez at 2:41 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: horrible miseries fly out left and right, but at the end there's a nice little nugget of hope.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:31 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


sixthformpoet writes well and can tell an engaging story using very few words, there is clearly ability there. An advertising agency should snap him up as a copywriter.
posted by epo at 3:58 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


For me, it's rarely the heaping of preposterous coincidences - I'm ready to buy into a lot in that regard.

On the one hand, Twitter has millions of users so there ought to be stories of 1-in-a-million coincidences tweeted all the time.

On the other hand a whole lot more than 1 out of every million Twitter users post fictional anecdotes as true stories. So any given crazy coincidence story is probably false.
posted by straight at 9:12 AM on June 10


These are right up there with the previously-mentioned Chicken Soup for the Soul, or the humorous readers' anecdotes in Reader's Digest. They're a fun form of storytelling where truth is less important than a good story. They're big fish tales.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:15 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


As long as the storyteller doesn't want anything from me more than likes, and isn't trying to change my mind on any issue that's even vaguely serious, I'm inclined to believe anything and everything on the Internet. Honestly, it makes things a bit more fun and easier.

My parents are buried in a suburban cemetery on the edge of Little Rock. My father died when I was very young, so I've been visiting this place off and on for 40+ years. The neighbor tombstone is not a murderer, but was a 17 yr old who died smashing his car into some bridge railing. He was thought to be drunk. He died in 1976 and was given the bare minimum flat headstone. I've never seen flowers on it, not even way back when 1976 was a recent year. At this point, he's probably forgotten by almost everyone. I should leave flowers on the grave next time I'm there.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 10:42 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


For me, sohalt, the moment it swung from "wow!" to "gtfo" was Lucy the widow suddenly calling the narrator to say she's trying to kill herself.

Their relationship is so distant/non-existent that neither party contacts the other at all for 18 months... right after Lucy's husband dies (supposedly Lucy is THAT much of an introvert *eyeroll*). And yet Lucy picks OP to call for help when she's suicidal? What?

I care about untrue stories being presented as if they are truth because I are about not blurring the line between fact and fiction. I do pick this particular set of twitter threads as my hill to die on, if need be.
posted by MiraK at 10:45 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I think I've realized why some of us feel angsty: it's because the sole draw of all three stories lies in us thinking it's all true.

If the writer were to admit up front that this is fiction, there would be no FPP, there would be no "HOLY SHIT WHAT A TRILOGY"-type reactions, there would be no viral threads, there would be no views and no attention given to this writer. This isn't a particularly great piece of writing, as writing goes. It's not bad but it's not notable either. But for however long we believed it was all true, we thought it was the best thing ever, it made our day, HOLY SHIT, etc... When you realize they aren't true, it's like the joke has been on us all along.

This writer invited us in for a snack and then handed us wax fruit. Of course we're grumpy about it.
posted by MiraK at 11:10 AM on June 10 [8 favorites]


> For me, sohalt, the moment it swung from "wow!" to "gtfo" was Lucy the widow suddenly calling the narrator to say she's trying to kill herself.

That part is actually what feels the most real to me! It can be really difficult to reach out to loved ones to talk about suicidal feelings. You know it's going to forever change your relationship with them. You're going to have to manage their feelings about your feelings. Calling the narrator, who is nearby and can come help and who has been open and friendly but who isn't going to forevermore feel responsible for keeping you from being suicidal like a loved one would actually is a choice that makes sense to me.

Speaking of believable bits, thank you for everyone above who articulated why I am so hesitant to believe these feel good tweets. It's not that I'm trying to be a cynical, close-hearted person but there's a pattern of finding out the people behind these heartwarming or epic Twitter threads are not Good People and it gets harder each time that happens to enjoy a feel good but wildly improbable story like this without waiting for "Actually, Here's Why These Tweets are by a Problematic Person" to come to light.

Also count me as another person who didn't know the Chicken Soup for the Soul books were all made up WHAT THE FUCK I NEED TO PROCESS THIS.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:01 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I used to follow this guy, he's very funny. I'd put odds on these stories being true, just because he's a fairly well established British twitter person, and the potential downside of having made stuff up would be too risky.
posted by memebake at 12:10 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul might be the one with my #1 favorite story. A teenager’s grandmother did die, and presumably was interred or otherwise memorialized, but first gave him a Bible. He never read it and then one day he was a grownup and cracked it open. Out fell a check for the price of a car!

So if someone gives you a book as a gift, make a point of shaking it real good in case a check falls out.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:28 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


I remember when I learned that the stories in those "Chicken Soup For The Soul" books were also just made up

My sister used excerpts from these as readings at her wedding. God help her.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 4:49 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


"Hello, I'm Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It's all lies. But they're entertaining lies, and in the end, isn't that the real truth? The answer...is no. Our story begins on a Friday morning, in a little town called Springfield..."
posted by rochrobbb at 5:27 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


The whole Chicken Soup For The Soul thing has taken me on a journey over to a 2003 New Yorker article about the franchise that is pretty good.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:08 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]




The Intelligencer article seems to confuse form for truth, which I think is a mistake. The methods it outlines for telling if a story is fake are all things that encourage virality and heighten drama - that is, they are indicators of craft, not truth. That said, pointing out those craft elements is helpful, and making me think that Nicole Cliffe is just fabricating all of her well-written anectweets is probably quite good for my own ego.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:47 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Well, there are forms that suggest an untruth, there's a certain kind of story where you can see the moral lesson approaching, or the moment when 'everyone applauded'. And then you can google for 'murder suicide Balcombe train Christmas' and discover that there's nothing more recent than 1881 coming up, at least that isn't referencing the tweet thread.
posted by tavella at 2:16 PM on June 11


They can be true without being factual.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:47 PM on June 12


And then you can google for 'murder suicide Balcombe train Christmas' and discover that there's nothing more recent than 1881 coming up, at least that isn't referencing the tweet thread.

Surely those are the first details you'd fudge if you were telling a true story but didn't want to out all the people involved.
posted by straight at 8:33 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


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