Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 15 of 52: Topics one should probably not bring up at a birthday dinner if they want to be invited to next year’s birthday dinner



Friday night I was invited to attend a birthday dinner. Turned out to be quite an intimate affair where a few of us squeezed into Prima Strada to gorge ourselves on some tasty Neapolitan pizza and Italian inspired desserts.

The food was ‘lish as always but the conversation, not so much. Topics were brought up and had the potential to become blossoming intellectual discussions except that I would take the reigns of the conversation for a bit, the end result of which would be like the equivalent of a horse careening off a narrow rocky mountain trail into a vast canyon below. Yup, basically every time I started talking it was like looking at a bloody horse carcass- bits of bone and flesh floating on top of a puddle of goo.

Maybe I was just having an off day? Or maybe I am just wrong in thinking my humour transcends all types of social gatherings. Or maybe much like the forced social work outings, some topics are best left in my head. As always readers, you can be the final judge.

Top 5 birthday conversations that turned to shit because I started talking:

1.     Friend’s upcoming trip to South Africa turns into conversation about apartheid.

This seemed like a logical choice of conversation topic at the time, given the history of South Africa. I mean one must be interested in this because why else would they be going to South Africa?  After all, the World Cup is over. I suppose it is possible, that even though this was a logical flow in conversation it was just not suitable for amicable birthday banter. It is also possible there are other reasons for visiting a place than to learn more about the colorful historical treatment of its population. This might also explain why no one is exactly begging me to start planning the cross-country European tour of concentration camps I had proposed as a vacation idea…

2.      Upcoming World Cup turns to conversation on the migrant labour (read: slave labour) situation in Qatar.

Astute observations where you draw parallels to current day Qatar to Canada’s historic treatment of migrant labourers (just exactly how many Chinese people died in the construction of the Canadian National Railway?) is best left for the sociology class room not the birthday dinner table.  Don’t think I need elaborate on that.

3.     A talk about birthday presents (pt 1) turns into my analysis of the odds that the couple sitting beside us is into S&M.

I know what you are thinking, Andrea I know you have ADHD but how the fuck do you jump from presents to S&M??!! Well, let me tell you…the man (a graying lumberjack) was giving the woman (20 years younger, hipster glasses wearing, pizza enthusiast-she really loved her pizza!) a leash as a gift. The leash was made out of rope. This was not just any rope, this rope was thick and it looked like its tensile strength was quite high, like it could withstand the force of a large graying lumberjack, for example.

4.     A talk about birthday presents (pt 2) turns into a discussion on various examples in literature that depict political destruction as a main story arc.

Although, this was totally acceptable as a conversation topic, given that the man celebrating said birthday started the conversation, it went to shit quite quickly when I took up the conversation with a level of enthusiasm not quite proportional to what is expected for one to discuss literature. I didn’t think it was possible to get too excited about books that use political destruction as a plot device… My exuberant nature may also explain why it seems impossible for me to get a book club started with actual real humans that I interact with.

5.     Comments on the food turned into discussions about running.

Yeah this would have been ok if I was at a birthday dinner with other runners but I was not. As a non-runner, there is nothing more annoying than hearing me talk about carb loading for my half marathon easy run I’m going on the next morning. Actually saying the words “easy” and “half-marathon” in the same sentence is annoying to most anyone, runner or not. And even more annoying is for me to bemoan about how I’m still hungry after I finish my meal of salad, pizza and dessert (and someone else’s dessert they couldn’t finish) because I burn way too many calories running as much as I do.

In sum, the topics of racism, slave labour, S&M and literary examples of political destruction are not appropriate birthday dinner conversations. Unless, the host brings them up and you in turn discuss in a calm intellectual manner and not in the gross-over-the-top-hyperactive manner you are best known for. Guess I missed this part in Dale Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence people.  Oh! And topics on running are only appropriate if there is another runner present at the table. And then, it is only appropriate to talk running with the other runner, leaving everyone else to happily discuss, without interruption, the socially acceptable topics of weather and home renovations.

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