Of course, as usual, the Sunday thought pattern began with “This American Life” program and a cup of coffee. Today’s topic was subjects that should not be discussed at a dinner party.
Presented by the mother of one of the programs announcers, she stated her case about the improper topics that should not be use in polite conversation: Your health, your period, how you sleep, your diet, your dreams, how you travel, and money. Her stoic position was no one cares about hearing any of these subjects.
It was an interesting program, but then I thought what the heck do we talk about. Other than telling you that the clothing you are wearing is hideous and trying to avoid a punch, we only can talk about what is familiar to each other.
Old friends who we have not seen for some time have only remembrance of a time gone by. New associations must be built on whatever subjects both approve of. Why speak Latin if you only know Greek?
Recently a far off friend came by to share some of his creative wonder. We chattered for a few minutes as he installed the artwork on the window and then we sat on the porch for a chat. Where do we go from here?
How is your family? How is your health? How is your work? Is that a new car? Is that a new jacket? What the heck is we suppose to talk about?
The topic of conversation is started from shared experiences, but so much has changed since then. The hot items of politics and religion will usually be avoided for small talk about weather and activities of children. Just looks what is posted on social media.
Looking at the previous list I can’t say anything about my period. I’ve heard too much on that subject but cannot tell any personal tales. Health is always a subject for conversation, especially in old age when things start breaking down and everyone can share their woes. How you sleep usually means you bought a new bed or your wife kicked you to the coach. Either way, it is probably not a good subject of conversation. Neither is whatever else you do in the bedroom. The bedroom and the bathroom are probably two places you should never discuss. A diet discussion is only comfortable with someone else who is on a diet. Like the subject health, diet talk is probably best not discussed at a dinner party. The subject of children and grandchildren should only be a topic when everyone has children or grandchildren. We may all be interested or even curious but should be impose our marriage arrangements or our breeding techniques with others? Routes and problems of traveling from point-to-point is an anonymous subject with little to offend unless someone in the group sold you a travel ticket to a trip gone wrong or is working repairing roadways. And money can be realized without talking about it. The autos, houses, clothing all tell each other’s wealth or lack thereof.
There seemed a time when conversations were deep. We talked of motivations, desires, and dreams before they happened. There were no question of any subjects brought up in a group and all shared in. There was no topic that could not be breached.
Perhaps it was the age or the environment or the affects of shared substances, but every word was important. There was also plenty of goofing and funning and silliness to go along with the mystical moments of life changing conversation.
Today, the giggles are still there due to a few drinks but the conversations are as cardboard as politically correct will allow. Unless we share experiences to relate a polite conversation may just fluff over the events of the moments.
Maybe the lady with the restrictions on proper etiquette had a point. There are a lot of things we shouldn’t talk about, so just keep it simple. Don’t step on anybody’s toes or smear an opinion. Don’t delve into waters you shouldn’t go.
Well “How are you today?” WRONG! “How are you feeling?” WRONG! “Did you have any trouble getting here?” WRONG! “You got any money?” WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!!!
So the next time someone says, “Let’s talk.” Don’t do it.