Conversation Topics For Labor Day Weekend Traffic

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Summer will soon be over, and then you’ll be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the long drive home. When you first see those dreaded tail lights, don’t curse their reddish glow. You’re better than that. And don’t think changing lanes is going to help things, either. Sure, it’s possible, but then again so is besting your max on bench press with Total Eclipse of the Heart going in your earbuds. Possible? Yes. Likely? Not so much. Don’t do either of those things. Instead recall this forward guidance. 

Pardon me for paging Dr. Freud, but I sense something deeper going on, a certain middle age malaise. This isn’t how it was supposed to turn out, is it? You were born to jack fastballs out of Fenway, not drive a minivan that perpetually smells of adolescent foot. But truth? You never could hit the curve, and everyone knows when it comes to minivans, you dig deep and pay for leather seats. As it stands Father Sandoval, Portugal’s premier exorcist, can’t cast out the demon stench living in your felt.  

It’s frustrating, this funk you’re in, I get it. But there are worse things in life to endure. Like dying and finding out the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about. Or your grandfather, not long for this world and never a Jefferson Starship fan, drawing you to his hospital bed and whispering only we built this city on rock ‘n roll moments before breathing his last. Talk about existential confusion!

What’s that, the problem is simpler? Your satellite radio signal is spotty, and you’re forced to carry on an old-timey conversation with the family? Well Sweet Aunt Irene, why didn’t you say so? Here I can help, for unlike the rest of you Rockefellers, my car doesn’t have satellite radio. And haven’t I always leveled with you? I’m the one who told you why the dyslexic middle school point guard wasn’t responding to your “there’s no I in TEAM” exhortations. Here are some tried-and-true topics guaranteed to make the miles whiz by:

  • If Albert Finney is the A-List actor and Brian Cox is the B, then who is the C? (Extra credit follow-up: Would you rather watch Brian Cox rush the quarterback in an NFL game, or take in Bryan Cox as Hamlet at The Old Vic? Explain fully.)
  •  Could Turning Japanese by The Vapors be recorded today? Is this a good thing or bad thing?
  • You will never regret naming a dog Flapjack or a cat Ringo. Defend this thesis.
  • Alan Hale Jr.: Can’t Fight This Feeling ∷ Steve McQueen: _____? (Answer – Eminence Front. The analogy calls for overwrought actor/song and preternaturally cool actor/song. For this reason, be prepared to give full credit to Tempted by Squeeze, and to deduct maximum points for Eye in the Sky by The Alan Parsons Project. In fact, consider taking separate vacations next year for that.)
  • If Fifty Shades of Grey can be read poolside, then why not Hustler?
  • Is the following statement – don’t discuss the schwa on a first date – sometimes true, always true or never true? (Trick question. The correct answer is sometimes true, not always true. If the date is with a librarian, your roommate might find a necktie on your door tonight, if you smell what I’m brewin’.)
  • Could you meaningfully counsel a lovesick friend using only 38 Special lyrics? Discuss.
  • Julia Stiles and Ellen Barkin. Age difference aside, how are they the same, and how are they different?
  • Does the Geneva Convention prevent playing I Fought The Law (Clash version) in a loop over the speakers at Gitmo? Should/shouldn’t it?
  • Immediately after his concert, would you rather spend fifteen minutes in Charlie Daniels’ soiled laundry hamper, or drink twelve ounces of grapefruit juice poured through his beard? Show your work.
  • Would it be better to be 3’8”, or 8’3”
  • Can you contemplate a men’s cologne so fragrant, so certain of commercial success that you’d be comfortable calling it Pelvic Thrust? Describe this scent without using the word sandalwood.
  • Should the bands Toto and Kansas simply merge? Why or why not? (Partial credit should be awarded for a response of “wait, they’re not the same band?”)
  • Which would be more concerning to you, already seated, on a first blind date: seeing your dinner partner arrive at coat-check and hand over a top hat, or a cape? Discuss fully.
  • Could sparks ever fly with a waitress to whom you’ve just given your dinner order – prithee bring me a flagon of your finest ale, m’lady? – in Middle English? Would wearing man-tights without irony help or hurt your case? (Note: you are not at Medieval Times.)

I could go on and on – I mean ask my sainted, frequent car-companion wife – but don’t look now, you’re in your driveway!