Local funnymen Chris Colin and Rob Baedeker have compiled a useful but still absurdly hilarious guide to avoiding awkward silences at all costs in their new book, What to Talk About (March 25). We grilled the duo on how to tackle San Francisco’s stalest conversation.
The Scenario: Your dad used to have so many interests—raccoon-trapping, websites about raccoon-trapping—but lately he only wants to discuss the jumbo peanut sandwich he's developing for his SoMa food truck. How to sustain a non-culinary conversation with a single-minded foodie?
What to Talk About: A turning point in life. An ideal day. A signal regret. A recurring nonsexual fantasy.
Why: The idea is to take him to 30,000 feet, beyond the culinary troposphere—it’s easier to existentially recalibrate at that altitude.
What Not to Talk About: Walnuts.
Why: Pretty close to peanuts.
The Scenario: Your buddy works at Bloppor.com, a hot startup providing low-income Bay Area kids—just kidding! It’s another social media site. He keeps drawing you into the tech-worker-vs-old-SF debate, and you fear the conversation itself is killing the city. How to move conversation forward in an era of rhetorical stagnation?
What To Talk About: Your old roommate Frankie, who used to use annoying phrases like “rhetorical stagnation,” and also stole your lucky bullwhip.
Why: The tech argument has become a municipal tic, and not the cute kind that gives you magic power. Talk about something personal and left-fieldy instead. Everyone needs a break from polemics, plus somebody might know where Frankie is, although he might be throwing rocks at Google buses, in which case you’ve come full circle.
What Not to Talk About: The drought.
Why: Never mind, drought's fine. Thought you said the draught.
The Scenario: Unbelievably, the median rent for a one-bedroom is OH GOD. SHUT UP. NOT ANOTHER WORD. CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
What to Talk About: How a microwave works. Levels of existence you haven't seen. How to pronounce “inchoate.” Jesus, anything.
Why: You're trying to derail a train here.
What Not to Talk About: Portland.
Why: We'll have time to talk about it when we move there.
What to talk about at a Bay Area sports game if you know nothing about sports:
1. Whenever you hear the crowd roar, say "Ohhhhhh!" or "Ohhhhh Nooooooo!" Then say, "Unbelievable!"
2. Criticize the referee. Say, "Unbelievable!"
3. Yell "Niners!"
What to talk about with the Bay Bridge toll booth operator
Is there a god?
What to talk about with a polar bear at the SF zoo after you've dropped LSD.
Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco.