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The Dinner Party by Helen Chappell

versation other than themselves? They don’t even ask your name, or your occupation or anything else that might hint that they had the least interest in you as anything other than a sounding board. They just launch right into the Hagiography of Me, without so much as a remark on the weather or any other topic of general interest that might make good conversation. Now, I have been raised not to discuss religion or politics at parties, or with strangers anywhere, but there must be a million other general topics that can safely be volleyed about over the salad course. The weather, what’s on TV, sports, outdoor activities, nature, and even Etruscan burial customs? I can field a lot of stuff, because I have eclectic interests and I like to learn new stuff. I didn’t shut down my brain when I got to a certain age. I keep learning all the time. If I ever reach the stage where it’s “All About Me,” and I have no dinner conversation that doesn’t involve Acme Widget and my ohso-great sporting accomplishments in high school, please, I beg of you, shoot me or don’t invite me, because I have outlived my usefulness. The Good Old Days that these

I must be dragged, kicking and screaming, into old age. Or even late middle age. And here’s one reason why. If you’re at all familiar with Internet memes, or you just read stuff, I’m sure you’ve encountered the rant about how we survived as kids without seat belts, helicopter parenting or playing outside from dawn until the street lights came on at night, the good old days, etc., etc. And we all had manners in those days and showed respect. Did we turn out just fine? Did we learn manners? After being seated, for the 11th time, next to a retired man whose entire dinner party conversation consists of memories of his illustrious career at [Acme Widget/ fill in the name of a company here], I’m starting to wonder about just how terrific The Greatest Generation was. Is it just my luck that I happen to be seated next to the party bore time after time, or are men my age so selfobsessed that they have no con-

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August 2016 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times August 2016

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