Mindless Talk Club: A Field Guide To Male Conversation

Font Size:

C.S. Lewis said “there is no sound I like better than adult male laughter.” That came to mind earlier this week, when I was out to dinner with a bunch of guy friends. It was shaping up to be a delightful evening. Tyler seemed uncharacteristically committed to honoring the pita-to-hummus ratio. There was visual confirmation before ordering that Matt had brought his wallet. At no point did I hear anything by the Electric Light Orchestra.

After some banter about work, family and whatnot, we got down to the good stuff. The stuff that we gather to talk about on nights like this, because our wives are so tired of the topics. There is only one rule governing dinner conversation, but it’s followed assiduously: the more trivial the subject, the more airplay it gets. Fight club is already taken and we don’t fight, anyway, except verbally. It’s Talk Club and, more particularly, Mindless Talk Club.

Walker started us off by listing movie scenes where it was okay for a man to cry. Turning in the jerseys in Rudy. Coach Dale putting four players on the court instead of five in Hoosiers. “Have a catch” at the end of Field of Dreams. The Jamaicans carrying their broken bobsled across the finish line in Cool Runnings. Louis clarified that the ending ofCool Runnings was an epic slow-clap, but not an occasion for tears. Sean added that a man shouldn’t admit to having seen Cool Runnings, let alone crying in it. Todd agreed generally with Walker’s list, but couldn’t corroborate Rudy because he’d never actually seen it. At this point you could hear a pin drop. It never occurred to us that one of our own had not seen Rudy.

John: I’ve known you for twenty years and now you spring this on me?

Todd: Relax. It’s just a movie.

Me: No, Todd. It’s much more than a movie.

Before Todd could get too bloodied at the turnbuckle, Dean tagged in. A little older, he took issue with anyone questioning the tear-jerking primacy of Brian’s Song.Unfortunately Dean always made his points by saying “one must”, so his rhetorical impact was negligible. Chris jolted everyone with a trick involving his trousers, which after twenty-five years still horrifies. Rob changed fields by asking whether it would be better to be three-foot-eight or eight-foot-three. Most lined up behind eight-foot-three, citing NBA riches and a Wilt Chamberlain-like run with the ladies. Contrarian Joe made a strong case for a richer life at lower altitude, where flying coach is luxurious and even a 400 square foot studio apartment is spacious. Score the round to Joe.

Adam and Jason, who had a history of dating the same women in college, locked horns:

Adam: I’m going to start using hot towels at home, like they give you in first class.

Jason: That’s idiotic. You’ll scald your face. It’s worse than your last brainstorm, keeping cut up fresh fruit in your drinking water at home.

Adam: What’s wrong with that?

Jason: Way too much like throwing a pot.

Scotty then asked whether it would it be better to cover every inch of office shelf space with plants, or on the same shelves place six vintage, unopened Alf dolls and nothing else. Not waiting, he answered his own question by saying the dolls were better as conceivably kitschy, and nobody really understands millennials anyway. When Brian clarified that Scotty wasn’t a millennial, there was an awkward silence, but then Chris took prosciutto off the charcuterie board and did his Hannibal Lecter impression, which always kills.

Teacher by Jethro Tull played, which Adam said was a great song but would have been better without the flute.

Jason: Were you kicked by a horse? Without the flute there is no Teacher. There’s no Jethro Tull.

Adam: This is about Mary Grace, isn’t it?

Kevin then went strong to the rim with his observation that all human heads come in only two shapes, Bert or Ernie. Greg didn’t agree or disagree, but offered that whenever he saw a shaved head, he felt the urge to rub it the way Bugs Bunny did in the “Rabbit of Seville.” Carl, who had been quiet most of the night, asked which name was better for his all-male lawyer band: Mens Rea or Paper Jam? Tim said he would volunteer on the presidential campaign of the candidate who makes it a crime for Harvard alums to say “I went to school in Cambridge”. There was much support for his idea except from Dean, who began to argue the other side with “one must”, at which point Adam and Jason pelted him with pita.

A good night in my book. Although I’m not sure C.S. Lewis would have laughed.