Chapter Four: You Talkin' to Me?
Hello. Time for another slice of catharsis.
We welcome a new player to the stage as Benjamin J. Grimm Gelinas joined our little cast on Cinco de Mayo. The night before, mother Rachel had elected to attend a performance by father Robert's band Gumhead. Current theory is that the prevalent scent of good beer and the overall decibel level of the set quite literally rocked the child out of the womb. Robert thinks young Ben just wanted to slap the lead singer. We at Bad Day always celebrate the arrival of a new soul ripe for corruption. Wha-ha-ha-ha!
Can I go anywhere without someone trying to start a conversation about sports with me?
First off, it is just plain bad form to launch into a conversation with me for no better reason than that we are on an elevator or in a line together. It is rude to assume that I want to talk to you. You haven't introduced yourself, or done anything to indicate to me that I might be interested in what you have to say. Why are you talking to me?
This is compounded when the unwarranted conversation is about sports. I do not like sports. I worked for two years at ESPN, and a year and change for the Fox New England Sports Report, so I have managed to absorb a working knowledge of most major games and their more renowned participants. But I have no deep-seated opinions about sports. I do not care how well certain teams or players perform, have no personal stake in the outcome of certain games, and do not plan my schedule around viewing sports on TV. There is far too much coverage and attention spent on what is effectively grown men playing.
A while back my girlfriend and I went to a restaurant. The barely post- adolescent host was leading us to our table and, without any coaxing from me, began telling me that I was very tall and that I should perhaps considering playing for the UConn Huskies because god knows they need it after this last season and could I believe how poorly they did in the playoffs and, boy, they need someone like me who can dunk. We were to be seated near the back of the restaurant and this monologue about my apparent ability to save the team went on for the entire length of the restaurant.
Now I am more than willing to entertain the notion that my proximity, sophistry, and overall demeanor is sufficient catalyst to trigger this kind of behavior; that these fanatics, so obviously suffering from clouded cognition and a staggering poverty of intellect, are actually drawn to me. I may very well appear on their radar as an unnatural void in the background radiation of sports memes permeating all living tissue, a vacuum that their nature abhors .
However it is more likely that such folks have yet to make the rather simple observation that reality is not dictated by their interests. They have come to believe that the opinions they hold are, in fact, of great interest to everyone. This is a common delusion.
And no, there is no irony in the fact that this view comes from a guy who posts his thoughts on a web site. I have said from the start that my opinions are irrelevant to everyone else, and a glimpse at my homepage hit counter show that most of the world agrees with this fact. But let's assume that I was among the deluded who considered his opinion vital to those around him. Does this mean I can, on a whim, indiscriminately blurt out the opening lines of a unwelcome conversation about, oh, let's say, religion to a complete stranger?
"Did you see what the Episcopalians did?"
"The Byzantine Orthodox could sure someone like you."
"Oh, those Jews."
You see my point.
Another good one is people who are shocked about my childless state. Back when Carolyn and I were married a family friend was insistent that this was aberrant human behavior. "Oh, you should really have kids." There was also an aunt somewhere in my family who started questioning my physiology. Not only is it acceptable to tell me I should have kids, but it's okay to ask about the state of my dick. So from now on, when I am at the mall and see a mother surrounded by her spawn and trying to herd them into a CVS, I will assume it is appropriate to approach them and say, "You know, you really shouldn't have had kids, ma'am. By the way, how's your vagina?"
This is all a shame because spontaneous, intelligent conversation can be such an invigorating experience, whether it be a spirited argument over opposing viewpoints or an exchange of recollections. Pubs and conventions are good breeding grounds for such discourse. Sitting and talking is good for the mind. It refreshes the more intricate mechanisms of reasoning. But now, as baseball season is in full bloom and other sports are in playoffs, the ceaseless pummeling of jabber begins to dull my wit.
Oh, please, make it stop.