I’m standing at a table at WBUR CitySpace, filling out a form to compete in this evening’s Moth StorySLAM.
It’s quite the questionnaire.
Questions about my name, the pronunciation of my name, contact information, demographic data, known languages, and more.
When I first began telling stories for The Moth in New York City back in July of 2011, the “form” was a small slip of paper upon which you would write your name and nothing more.
Times have certainly changed.
While completing the form, one of the Moth volunteers, who I know well, explained the process to a woman beside me. After she was finished explaining, the volunteer asked, “So? Do you want to try to tell a story tonight?”
“No,” the woman said, laughing. “Never!”
Standing beside me, a second woman said, “Don’t say that! Like my mother famously said… Never say never.”
I turned to the woman. “Your mom didn’t famously say that. ‘Never say never’ is something everyone says. We’ve been saying it forever.”
The woman stared at me for a moment before apparently realizing this was true. In just a few seconds, her expression went from confusion to realization to sadness.
I had apparently stolen this bit of pride from her.
I checked on the expression when I got home, just to be sure it didn’t originate with some lady in Boston. “Never say never” was first recorded in Charles Dickens’s “Pickwick Papers” in 1837 but likely had existed long before that.
So no. That lady’s mom may have spoken those words many times – probably annoyingly so – but she didn’t make them famous.
Happy to clear that up for her.