Two January thoughts:
- I decided, having been a drinker of alcohol for several years now, that taking a month off would be quite a good idea for a few reasons. As the month is winding down, I am quite glad with my challenge and the results. In a sense, the bottom line is I feel healthy and content. Also happy that I have quite easily accomplished this goal even though there were some certain moments and temptations to drink. The disheartening news: College Station really is an even drier place (pun intended) without alcohol.
Overall though, it seems this should be a yearly occurrence. To borrow from the bard of modern times (Homer Simpson): To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems. For 11 months of the year that’ll suffice; for January the puritan American in me must find different problems and solutions.
- Here is a social experiment for a male: go to a party, bar, or even simply venture out on a taxi ride in a place you would not consider your normal stomping grounds. Start a conversation with a random stranger. Do not bring up sports, but see how long before the conversation goes that way-or goes silent. You have the weather, but how much can people talk about how windy it is in Chicago? How warm it is in Texas? How tornado-y it is in Kansas? Politics are a surefire way to cause problems or simply agitate. Talking about work is likely to either bore, confuse or remind others of their own work: not a pleasant experience.
Thus, the comfort zone increasingly where one can bond, share memories, disagree, debate–whatever-is sports. The lingua franca of American males is sports because it allows a latitude of ease and comfort that other topics, or specialties, don’t.
As to whether people end up talking about football, football (soccer), running after cheese down a hill, whatever: the bonding moment dually serves as a bit of a placebo where people avoid asking more eyebrow raising questions. The natural tendency is to fall back on familiarity.
(A great example of this was part of the exchange between Missy Cummings, an MIT professor and aeronautics/UAV expert for the Navy, and Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Stewart asked whether people always ask her hyper-technical questions at parties etc. and she said no because she usually just lies about her job, simplifying it to ‘teacher’).
I don’t think this is a limb I’m standing on-and in fact I’m pretty certain I could extend that beyond American males. I guess the difference is maybe both what sport we scream about, and the decibel with which the screaming occurs.
With decibel levels in mind, it’s important to keep our ears open to as much as possible. One of my more pleaseant random exchanges in the last month (or so) was with a cab driver from Algeria. Not everyone is going to-or want to-chat about the Arab Spring and various opinions. Yet, one of the gifts and richness of American society is generally finding the options to do such things. In essence, it seems everyone can discuss ‘da Bears with ease no matter their background or expertise; but the readiness to fall back on it keeps people from often learning about ‘da rest of what’s going on.