Thursday, January 25, 2007

College Conversations

I have no real memory of college conversations, the words spoken or the arguments made. But I remember the topics and the people involved, and remember -- "that was an awesome conversation." I remember those moments more vividly than the times I was "having fun." I've been trying to reconstruct some of this because I look at the bored faces of my students and try to convince them that there is something exciting about the life of the mind.

1. Everybody is beautiful. How are they beautiful. We sat in chairs on the lawn, drinking beer and describing as best we could the beauty of those who walked by. Blech, maybe, but it was eye-opening for me, a testament to how much of ourselves we betray just by walking.

2. Interfaith dating. It was a conversation about communication and cultural norms, about negotiating a relationship. I realized when I got married -- we all believe different stuff, just sometimes we're more upfront about it.

3. China. I talked my face blue about life in China. I was asking questions, other people told me how it was.

4. Race. Actually, the conversations were rather painful, and often stupid, but at least they were honest, and an honest conversation about race is hard to come by.

5. How are you going to die?

3 comments:

twiffer said...

i loved those sorts of converstations. one of the attractive aspects of the fray and blogging is that one still gets to have those sorts of conversations. a shame to let them end with graduation (granted, some people, such as my ex-wife, believe you aren't supposed to have such conversations once you become a "real adult". rather sad).

as for number 5, i'm likely going for lung cancer, or something along those lines. or nuclear annihilation. haven't decided yet.

Keifus said...

1. "Who's hotter, X or Y?" (and why). Real people or actors, whatever. If we were feeling serious it could be about how lovesick we all were, if unserious then surely it was about sex.

2. Late-night "what's it all mean" conversations, usually with trusted roommate or best buddies. If I could recreate any of these, I wonder if I would be disappointed? (I expect yes.)

3. Extensive debates about pure trivia, or about pure esoterica. Engineer types were my friends, so a lot of playing with mathematical and physical facts and metaphors. (Maybe not the best example, but I do remember one brief conversation, playing a dice game. Idiot friend rolls doubles and asks, "snake-eyes, what are the odds?" "1 in 36, you dolt" the other ten people in the room reply with varying shades of boredom or anger.)

4. The idiotic/amusing/outrageous things I/you did last night. Or, if nothing much had happened recently, relive some of the favorite old anecdotes. THe exploits didn't always involve alcohol, but did often enough.

5. Hockey, either on the Sega (dating myself) or on the ice, or sometimes on TV.

6. Feeling out others' experience/wordliness, because we all gave a shit in those days about what our friends had on us, and we also wanted to share in anyone else's self-discovery as much as we wanted to share our own.

7. College and other organizational policies, and how they interfered with our personal freedom (or didn't).

8. What I actually miss however, is the repartee. It seemed easy in those days to develop a few conversational themes, which would be riffed on constantly and with great wit. Sometimes, we could get such a groove going, we could exchange sarcastic zingers for hours on end, it'd be like an endless jam. Those were good times, my favorites.


#

I probably didn't have enough liberal-style intellectual stimulation though. We're not talking well-rounded people here, not for the most part. (It's good knowing the rest of y'all these days.)

Friendships and conversations all kind of tapered quickly after college, so it's a bittersweet topic you've got here.

K

Velma said...

Keep up the good work.