Small Talk for Big Meals


Don’t you just love the things people talk about over a meal? It seems like maybe food opens people up to conversation more than anything else. You sit down with some company you enjoy, and some calories to consume, and you just start talking.

One of my favorite conversation starters at dinner is the old…well, it’s old to me…one about methane: methane naturally turns into water if left alone in the environment. Methane is a natural gas…produced by animals. Have you ever seen that Mad Max movie called Beyond Thunderdome? In that movie, there are people who use pig crap to produce methane. So maybe you’re ahead of me now, but the water we drink at dinner could have once been methane.

Everything recycles…even meal-time topics.

You could talk about recycling. Or other environmental things, like trees, flowers, chirping birds, rivers, lakes, monsters that live in lakes, mountains, a yeti, or even where the word yeti originated.

You could talk about things you’re thankful for. Count all the things you have to live for. That’s a good pastime even when you’re not eating or with good company.

You can talk about science. Did you know there are people in this world who think the world might be flat? I’m not sure if that’s an astronomy topic or a psychology topic. I bet most people have something to say about it though.

Here’s another one that I like, in case you might need one for your next meal. So the idea of nothing is a dead end right? We can’t even use the word nothing without messing it up. You can’t give nothing attributes. You can’t define nothing, because to define it makes it a thing. Funny, but we humans always try. Sometimes I even close my eyes and try to imagine infinite nothing, but then I see it as either endless black, or endless white. That’s not nothing. In fact, you can’t even give nothing a name…for the same reason as above… Nothingness can’t be contained, it can’t be seen, it can’t be felt, it can’t be detected, it can’t be. Which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Nothing is impossible.”

Kind of on the same topic, but a bit more sarcastic: Don’t you just love it when someone is yakking about some “thing”, and they give their tiny, little subjective notion The Breath of Life, as if it was within their power to do so, thereafter pretending that this thing exists in tangible reality, even though you know the idea is merely an idea, with its heaviest attribute its name? (Okay, sarcasm over.)

Of course you can always talk about your companions at the meal. Are they your family? Are they your friends? Are they someone you just met? Are you on a date? You could talk about food likes and dislikes. I don’t like tomatoes so I always kid around that tomato is a Japanese word that means, “Disgusting when eaten raw.” Do you have any foods you love to hate? Everyone’s tastes are different, and everyone shares some favorites. Eventually you’ll find something in common. Not everyone likes chocolate, for instance, but I’ll bet you that everyone has something to say, an opinion, about chocolate.

Two last thoughts: Does the meal make the people you’re with more pleasant, or do the people you’re with make the meal better? Does the conversation improve the meal?

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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