Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'll give you something to talk about

I was gonna put Bonnie Raitt's "Give em Something to Talk About" here, but then I realized...it's Bonnie Raitt. So instead, here is ODB, giving the world something to talk about at the Grammy's.

This post is a Public Service Announcement for all those deficient in the art of small talk. I often find it difficult to engage in the mindless, meandering word-combination chaos known as "polite conversation," not because I don't enjoy the company and conversation of my fellow humans, but because sometimes I simply find the act of making my mouth form audible, coherent syllables about the weather too tiresome. However, the real problem I have is avoiding topics deemed off limits. I'm like a dog with food; just because you put it out of sight in the cabinet doesn't mean I don't know it's there. I will sit and stare at that cabinet the entire night until I get that juicy piece of conversation. Somebody at the dinner table thinks the president is a muslim socialist communist? Let's discuss! A friend of a friend at a party is wearing an eye patch? You're damn straight we're talking about what's underneath.

I understand that some people prefer avoiding topics that may be uncomfortable or that they, god forbid, might disagree on, so I've provided two topics that are guaranteed to please a crowd and ensure that nobody accidentally brings up that thing on Jason's new girlfriend's lip.

Everybody seems to love talking about these topics. I've seen people get very passionate about their choices, and yet remain respectful of everyone else's choice, a prerequisite for healthy conversation. Basically, at your next family gathering, these are much safer discussion topics than America's foreign policy or the moral superiority of atheism over monotheism.

Acceptable and beloved conversation topic #1:

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

See? Easy. Everyone loves, or at least knows, super heroes. We've all imagined ourselves as a super hero at some point. So this one taps into fond childhood memories and lets you run wild with your imagination in an inoffensive way, unless of course somebody chooses Ant-Man's power of punching his wife in the face (hope that's in the upcoming movie!). For some reason, every time I've had this conversation, the only powers people bring up are flying and invisibility. It's like they never heard of Wolverine.

Anyways, the correct answer is flying. Yeah being invisible and going to the Brazilian Women's Swimming team's locker room would be great, but you gotta look at the big picture. With the power of flight, you could just fly to Brazil, where they have nude beaches. No sexual harassment charge for you when the invisibility inevitably wears out.

So flight is the answer. Hands down, no argument.

Shit. This was supposed to spark conversation. Oh well, on to the next one...

Acceptable and beloved conversation topic #2:

If you had to give up one sense (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling) which would you choose?

Everybody has thought about this one. If you are fortunate enough to have all five senses, it's fun imagining the world without one of them.

Wait, why is that fun? Sounds kind of fucked up, to be honest.

But let's go with it. Seriously, though, this is better than talking about world affairs or religion? Ok.

To begin, let's look at all five senses.

Ok, so after a little research, I learned there are a lot more than five senses, and I'm not just talking about Haley Joel Osment. There's our sense of time, balance, relativity, and many more! For the sake of this post, let's just focus on the ones our middle school teachers thought we could handle, which in turn narrowed our perception of ourselves and the world around us, but I digress...

Smell. This seems like it might be the easiest to cut out. No more b.o.! No more nasty farts! Awesome! But at the same time, no more farts? Who would want to live in a world where you can't even smell your own fart and fully enjoy the havoc your anus wreaked on other people's nasal passages? And you'll never be able to tell if you stink, so dating would be interesting. No more smell of bacon. I don't even eat bacon any more and I still think the smell of bacon cooking is one of the greatest sensual pleasures a man can experience. And don't forget, if you choose to give up your sense of smell, your sense of taste is fucked because taste and smell are intimately connected (hold your nose while eating to see this effect in action!). Plus, no more sniffing out the gas in the kitchen from the broken stove and now your house just exploded. Good choice, hot shot.

Taste. This may not be the most important sense, but it's one that makes life worth living. Without the sense of taste, you might as well eat rice cakes and celery for the rest of your life. No juicy, greasy fried chicken. No nacho cheese melting in your mouth, hitting every taste bud down your throat. No Reese's peanut butter cups.

No thank you.

Touch. Same as above re: "makes life worth living." Case in point: try imagining sex without the sense of touch.

Yeah. No. Next.

Sight/Hearing. These are the big two. As with the first topic, humans can only handle binary decisions, so this conversation inevitably winds up being about which is worse, loss of sight or loss of hearing.

Sight is our dominant sense ("I'll believe it when I see it") and it's hard to imagine not being able to see a sunset or a beautiful woman or tv. But envisioning (see, vision is the dominant sense even in our language. Look, I did it again with "see," and yet again just now with "look") a world with no music is almost impossible to me. No "Beethoven's 5th" or ODB's "Return to the 36 Chambers".

I would think being deaf is incredibly isolating; you can never be comforted by the sound of a friend's voice. You'd be excluded from the conversation by default. When I close my eyes, I can still sense what's happening around me, but when you plug up your ears you lose your sense of surroundings, and your sense of balance is all off.

At least with blindness you could get a dog, even though you could never see how it nuzzles its ridiculously cute snout into the blankets to keep warm at night or the hilarious way the folds of skin in its face flap in the breeze when it runs.

In order to properly answer this question, you really have to put yourself in the shoes of somebody less fortunate. What would it really be like if you didn't have one of your main senses? And what would it be like if you didn't have that sense all your life and one day you finally got it?

Funny you should ask! Here's a girl hearing her voice for the first time in her 29 years of life:

Wow. That was powerful. I'm gonna need a second. What? No, I'm not crying, it's just. I just...shut up. Who the hell wanted to talk about this stuff anyway?


Sorry. I told you I'm not really good at small talk.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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