Conversational Interests

Posted By on December 19, 2006

Or
“Say, That Reminds Me Of…”

.: If you spend a good portion of your time around biochemists or any similarly nerdy demographic, you will know what I’m talking about: the tendency for the nerdy person to mention, in a completely unrelated conversation, some interesting tidbit or factoid in their area of specialty.

.: I do this sometimes. I often find myself listening half-heartedly until the other person mentions something tangentially related to some concept in biochemistry, then I try steer the conversation in that direction.

It’s interesting you should mention _____; that reminds me of this interesting facet of the Krebs cycle/protein folding/DNA helicase/_____.

.: It’s annoying, I’m sure, but it happens infrequently enough that I can still have friends. However, it happens infrequently only because there are simply not enough topics that can be related to biochemistry. The most common conversations I ruin are ones involving peanut butter, because I’m more than enthusiastic to explain the difference between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. But that’s really about it.

.: As annoying as it can be, I can’t think of a single more annoying group of specialists than linguists, because literally everything you say can be a jumping off point for some boring lecture on the history of words and their usage. You can talk about any subject matter you wish, but as long as you use words while doing so the geeky linguist will have some stupid factoid waiting there, ready to drag you along on an ultimately pointless digression.

It’s interesting you used ‘hard’ in that manner. While culturally acceptable in almost every case, the exact structure of your sentence is grammatically ambiguous and impossible to diagram. Try reversing the phrase and see if you can tell me what kind of word ‘hard’ is.

.: I’ve found that the best way to prevent this sort of unsolicited education is to ask ridiculously stupid and irrelevant questions. Consciously mangle fundamental concepts in the other person’s field:

How do you diagram a verb? Are there special editor’s marks? Or do you not include verbs in diagrams?

.: Basically, be confused to the point where it’s no longer worth the geek’s time to try to correct your gross misunderstandings (this approach is less effective against evolution specialists, if only because they’re used to this kind of thing).

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One Response to “Conversational Interests”

  1. susan says:

    so what exactly is peanut butter?

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