Long Story Listener

“Long story short” is a common expression these days as the speaker shortens a SAGA into a SNIPPET. But what if you need to tell the whole long story? For that you need a Long-Story-Listener. That’s what my friend, Robin, is to me.

Robin and I have many things in common.

  • We both have three adult children.
  • We are both Jewish and go to the same Temple.
  • Both of us have served as President of the Temple’s Sisterhood.
  • We are both liberal in our political bent, in favor of every social service issue that appears on the ballot.
  • We both have a love of mankind, but both find it difficult to deal with people.
  • We love to read and are in a book club together.
  • We love to go to the movies.
  • We love dissecting all the tales we read and see.
  • She cries over these stories in darkened theaters and at home, I cry in those places and in public, sometimes to her dismay.
  • She has taught me to love sitting at a bar to have a drink and dinner. She’s a martini straight up with olives girl, while I take my margarita with any tequila as long as the bartender uses a lot. And isn’t it great that she is still capable of driving after one drink?
  • We both love to eat though she’s more of a foodie than I am. (But, when I need to go slumming – to White Castle or to a Skyline Chili Parlor – she loans me her husband, Van, who likewise loves junk food.)
  • And of course, we both worry about every morsel we eat and how it will affect the bathroom scale come morning.

Though all of these things bond our friendship, we have one secret ingredient that brings us super closeness – we are walking partners so we spend scads of time together. We aim to walk five days a week, for an hour each day, traveling about 2 ½ miles daily. Allowing for vacations and inclement weather, I will assume an 80% rate of reaching our target. By this calculation, we walk 200 days and travel 500 miles each and every year.

Better than all the calories burned in this exercise is the fact that those 200 days represent 200 hours of conversation. I am willing to bet there are some husbands and wives who don’t talk to each other that much in a year – especially considering those who are addicted to their cell phones. Be that as it may, this amount of time allows us to tell each other our complex life experiences in minute detail, something we would never take the time to do in a telephone call or in an email. And of course, we could never do it in a TXT MSG. KWIM?

Love her as I do, I am soon to be broken hearted because Robin is moving away. Remember those three adult kids of hers? Well, they live in Boston, Providence, and Brooklyn, while she and Van find themselves too many miles away in Ohio, but not for much longer. Their home, one block away from mine, is on the market. And it’s waiting for the purchase contract that will change their lives, and mine.

A mutual friend tells us that we can still walk and talk together via the cell phone and I sure hope this becomes our reality. While I have many wonderful friends in whom I confide, Robin is the record holder with four or five hours a week of sharing and I will miss her. Clearly that’s an understatement but I won’t elaborate because she’s uncomfortable when I cry in public…

Life lesson for one and all: If you have a long-story-listener in your life, recognize that person as the wonderful, amazing, astounding friend (and gift!) that he/she is and be grateful for every day you share!


From the left: Margot, Robin, Lisa, Lorie, and Vera




  1. Sheryl says:

    This is perfect. I’ve experienced the same situation. There are two newer walking buddies, now, but the confidant feeling is not there.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Fingers crossed the confidant feeling grows over time… Though our time together is limited to dinner twice a year, I am very grateful for that closeness!

  2. Vera says:

    Omg, you sure are gonna miss her. I didn’t think about the 200+ hours a year walking and talking. Oh my!!

  3. Liz McOsker says:

    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful friendship and to Robin.

  4. Sue says:

    Yes I know this feeling.

    • Lorie Kleiner Eckert says:

      Thanks for commenting, Sue. A bunch of people will miss Robin, just like it is with your Phoebe…

  5. Rose says:

    I lost all my long-story-listeners when I moved away from Columbus 10 years ago, so I know exactly how you feel. (You were one of them, by the way!) I think the hardest thing about growing older is the changes that come to us through changes in the lives of others we care about. Perhaps that will remain a theme in your blog?!

  6. Rose says:

    I meant, “moved away from CINCINNATI to Columbus”! Sorry for the goof! (More years, more goofs!)

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