Not long ago my wife asked me with genuine curiosity about my drinking pals.
"What do you guys talk about?"
The question was actually an assertion: Whatever multitudes you fools may each contain must by now have been spent like dollar bills on Grab Bag Nite at the Chipp Inn.
Indignantly, I told her that we talk about … whatever. News at home, news at work, news in the news. Ideas, jokes, old yarns.
Secretly, I wondered the same thing: What do we talk about? What is the unifying theme, the underlying purpose?
Just back from a long weekend golf outing with seven guys, I came up with an answer for my wife: Men, especially when they gather in groups larger than two, simply sit around and try to crack each other up.
Doesn't matter how you do it. Quick jokes, long stories, insults—you go with what you got. Here's the organizing theme: Life can't possibly be as grim as it seems between groceries and deadlines and wakes and insurance premiums and dental appointments.
Life must actually be funny, if only we can see how funny it is.
And so we get together and pretend everything is funny.
And for one Grab Bag Nite, it is funny.
You heard the one about the guy who walks into the bar and, ordering a drink, notices that there's a man at the end of the bar, crying.
"What's the matter with him?" the guy asks the bartender.
"Oh, his father died," the bartender says.
"Oh, that's too bad," the guy says. "When did he die?"