Justin and Heidi came up this past weekend and we had a grand old time. We ate Ethiopian food, explored the city, discussed the ins and outs of the great cinema classic the Fugitive, and finally got in some much needed sports talk. Justin is my primary sports confidant in this world because we pretty much have the same outlooks, witty opinions, and disdain for certain players and/or announcers (looking at you Favre and Berman). Anyway, after they left and I got done sobbing into my pillow, I started thinking about how awesome it is that I can talk sports with anyone. Sports knowledge creates a common denominator across different realms of society and has really helped me out in certain situations.
First and foremost, I get along with parents, particularly parents of someone I'm currently dating. I attribute this to sports for the most part. Being around a girlfriend's parents is always going to be slightly awkward, but it's a little less when you have a universal subject of interest that you can dissect intelligently. Parents, especially fathers, aren't usually the most approachable people when you first meet them. I've greatly benefited from my sports smarts with the last couple of girls I dated because I can always retreat into a discussion about the Reds or Bengals or Bearcats or whatever. It's awesome. A father can disassociate me from being the kid who's dating his daughter, and instead just look at me as some kid who knows Aaron Harang's ERA or the score from yesterday's Ohio State game. Plus, there's always something to talk about. Uncomfortable silences are for suckers. I usually get along better with the fathers than the daughters, and I'm kind of okay with that.
Sports talk also puts you in touch with a different ilk of people. Not terrible people, just people I may not normally hang out with or talk to. For instance, a friend of mine came into town a couple of weeks ago with a few of her co-workers. My friend and I went out to eat Indian food and later met up with her boss and co-worker at an absolutely atrocious piano bar where they covered "Sweet Home Alabama" and various Kid Rock songs...on the piano. Ugh. Anyway, as I stood there uncomfortably around a bunch of people I would probably never talk to or have anything in common with, her boss (an outspoken, wealthy Republican) and I got to talking about the Bengals. With the screeching hell of people singing "And I'm proud to be an American..." in the background (and he was enjoying the place mind you), we had found a common ground. Although I was still uncomfortable, the pain was alleviated if just for a moment. Just long enough for me to get the fuck out of there.
Also, and I'm not trying for this to sound cocky even though it probably will, I like the fact that people are surprised when I can talk sports with whomever I want. More than one person has said it's "weird" that I know so much about sports, but I can't help the fact that it's just one of those things that sticks in my mind. This weekend Justin and I were discussing Larry Johnson's "Grandma-ma" character of the early 90s when he was a semi-impressive player with the Charlotte Hornets trying to hock sneakers. Why the hell do we remember that era? Why can I recite every World Series and Super Bowl winner since 1990? Sports trivia sticks in my head, and while I went through an "I'm not going to pay attention to sports because I'm way too cool for that" period, I'm fucking glad it didn't stick. Otherwise, what would I have to talk about?