I do not follow sports so I am often at a loss when acquaintances want to chat about it. It could be the height of the World Series and someone will say something like, "Do you think the [franchise name] are going to win this year?" I will then obliviously respond, "Is that a [type of sport] team?" There is usually no follow-up.
I follow national and international news but many others do not so that does not reliably work as a conversation starter. News would seem to be more relevant than sports but probably is actually not since most likely neither I nor anyone I communicate with will be directly affected by it or have any influence over the outcomes. We also have no control over the weather but surprisingly this does work well as a conversation topic.
I think the key here is the shared experience. If it is cold, hot, or wet outside, everyone around you can join in on the conversation. They have the relevant facts at hand and can proffer multiple opinions as to what the weather might do next.
My wife Shannon and I enjoy talking about our shared experiences. Obviously, our six children are the main topic of our real-life soap opera. But I have also learned that a fictional series, when experienced together, can be a joy to discuss.
I first discovered this with the serial novel The Green Mile. As each volume in the series was published, Shannon and I would read it together. The sweetest part was in the staking of claims on the predictions for the next release.
We also enjoyed trying to figure out together the deeper underarching conspiracy of the television series The X-Files. This was great until the television series was interrupted by the feature film. Since neither Shannon nor I saw this mystery milestone at the movie theater, we lost the flow.
Speaking of losing the flow, the real reason I am writing this blog entry is another television series that Shannon and I experienced together recently, Breaking Bad. This is a show where all of the characters "break bad" at some point in the series. They make selfish decisions which directly or indirectly hurt those around them. They attribute their gains to false achievements to enjoy the respect and pride of their loved ones. They then do much worse in order to maintain their shams. After watching four seasons of this, I had to take a break.
I did not watch the fifth and final season until many months later when Shannon got interested in watching it and caught up to me. As we watched the episodes of the final season together in lock step, we enjoyed discussing themes and trying to guess how the series would end. As Shannon shared with me foreshadowing details that I had missed, I came to the conclusion that the writers and my wife were geniuses.
Now that it is over, however, I feel a bit funny about it. I enjoyed Breaking Bad but I am not sure I am a better person for having watched it. I am also ambivalent about the ending as I am still trying to digest it emotionally with regard to my feelings about justice.
Maybe it is best that I stop thinking about that series and move on. I might distract myself by finally getting around to watching The Red Wedding.