Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Conversation Connoisseurs

Someone gave me the unexpected gift of a scintillating conversation on New Year's Eve. (Yes, I also did "fun" things like play Karaoke Revolution and Dance, Dance Revolution!) We got to chatting about why "good" conversations are so uncommon and about what makes a conversation a "good" one. As we talked we determined that most conversations are "chips and salsa conversations"—small talk that requires almost no preparation and very little knowledge of the other person. It spices up our lives a bit (depending, of course, on the brand of salsa) and the "chips" momentarily satisfy our hunger for social contact.

We decided that the second most common kind of conversations are "M&M conversations"—spontaneous, exchanges of banter that come in a variety of fun colors and flavors. Their candy-coating of fun tends to "melt in your mouth, not in your hands," but once you have ingested them and the delectable chocolate of playfulness that encases them dissolves, sometimes nothing else remains. Every once in awhile though, you may get lucky enough to find a tiny bit of substance (a.k.a. a peanut) at the core! Hence, their layered nature makes them a little more complex than "chips and salsa" conversations in many ways, and requires that the participants know one another to some extent (after all, some people are deathly allergic to peanuts!).

We termed the least common kind of conversations "lasagna conversations." These kinds of conversations consist of a wide variety of ingredients, demand quite a bit of preparation, and require a great deal of "cooking time" (i.e. it would be difficult to have such a conversation in the space of just a few minutes unless participants were to pre-cook some of the ingredients). When well-prepared, "lasagna conversations" are much more flavorful, nutritious, and satisfying than other conversations. However, many people avoid "making" such conversations because they are more expensive in that they require a greater investment of self, involve more effort, and require more skill. It takes both experience and practice to whip up a tasty one!

Gotta love lasagna (well, actually, I can think of a lot of other foods that I would prefer over lasagna, but for the sake of the metaphor . . . )!