Talking points

By Joe Rector

A few weekends ago, I traveled with my brother and two high school friends to play in a golf tournament. It was held by a church that another high school friend pastors, and we’ve tried to support the man and his cause for the last few years.

The course is located in the mountains in Lafollette, and the drive there is as twisty and curvy as a road through the Smoky Mountains. By the time we’d registered, eaten lunch and loaded our carts, the day was half gone. Sometime around 7:00 p.m. I arrived home. The day was long, our golf games were mediocre, and old aches and pains resurfaced. What was best about the day was the time spent with friends.

What we realized about half-way through the day was that the four of us have changed our topics of conversation. In high school, our conversations were varied. Because we were in band, much of the time we discussed the trips we would take to competitions or ball games. That included who we would sit with (female), and what we might try to get away with. We also worked out how in the world we were going to sell our quota of socks and wrapping paper, items used in fundraising campaigns.

Like most teen-aged boys, we had our discussions of weekend plans. Before dating became a real thing in our lives, we found our fun by “running around” with groups of boys. We had a standard plan for each weekend outing. It included, shooting pool at the bowling alley or skating at the rink at the edge of the county. We also laid plans for fights that might break out and how we’d help each other. For most of us, those brawls were limited, but we talked about them as if they occurred every time we stepped foot outside. Of course, a few guys actually did participate in fighting as if it were a sport. They planned their strategy for where they would meet, whom they would fight, and when they would leave.

Another big topic included alcohol. Individuals had fake identifications that were accepted by most liquor stores and beer sellers. We’d talk about what we’d buy, who had the money, and who would make the purchases. Many were the nights we engaged in half-drunken babble and bravado as the effects of that illegal liquid coursed through our bodies.

The subject of girls also arose. Hormone-driven teens were constantly talking about females to whom they were attracted and how much they wanted to go out with them. We exchanged ideas of the best places to go on dates and the best places to “park.” We knew in our hearts that the discussions were more dreams than realities, but they continued.

Fifty years later, our topics of conversation have changed. These days, guys exchange tales of doctor visits. We discuss how much joints ache and how we dread the next procedure that encompasses drinking some kind of goop that will keep us trapped at home for hours. All are quick to share experiences with maladies that others might be experiencing.

Politics is also a major conversation area. We don’t necessarily agree with others, but our debates are always civil. Each side can’t understand the other’s rationale for their beliefs, and on occasion, one person will try to convince an adversary to swap sides. It doesn’t happen.

No conversation is ever complete without spending a few minutes wondering what the world is coming to. It’s the same story for every generation; our concerns now are that young folks don’t know how to work hard and that they spend too much time playing video games instead of games outside.

I remember my grandparents and the conversations they had. Surprisingly, they were similar to those my friends and I have now. The realization that we’ve become like the people we considered old and boring is upsetting. I suppose that aging automatically brings about changes in conversation topics. Before any young person laughs, let me assure you that your time is coming. Before you can blink your eyes, you’ll be complaining about aches and pains and young people. It’s the natural course of events.

 

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