Melbourne Cup day marks the beginning of the period officially known as the “silly season”. It’s highly appropriate given that the Cup is arguably the silliest event of the year. I enjoyed it immensely back in my child free days. Whilst there is always a chorus of consternation about crass displays of drunkeness from the punters, I’m all for this type of horse play.
In times gone by the Silly Season meant behaving in a ways that would make Austin Powers quip “Oh behave baby!” and regretting this behaviour until the next silly season swung around so I could disgrace myself afresh. Nowadays the pointy end of the year is heralded by a few tame school and daycare functions. Nobody over the age of five gets naked at these events. Typically modest quantities of chardonnay are consumed and the conversation is politely child-centric.
While I have no desire to relive the shenanigans of yesteryear, I sometimes wish I could take the festive small talk off on a tangent. I’ve been thinking about ways to inject the tangential into otherwise bland social pleasantries.
To begin with, when Miley is mentioned, as she no doubt will be, I may strike back with something like ” Yeh Wrecking Ball was interesting for all the wrong reasons but have you seen the video of Commander Chris Hadfield covering Bowie’s Space Oddity actually in space?” Ground Control to Major Tom – Booyeh!
When the former commander of the International Space Station was filmed performing the Bowie classic ( in weightlessness), it caused a collective Nerdgasm. The earth moved for geeks and space junkies everywhere even though our hero was floating 370kms above it.
I’ve fallen in love again and God himself (aka David Bowie) has given Commander Hadfield his divine seal of approval.
If my party companions haven’t abandoned me by this stage its an easy segue from Bowie classics to the question “Is there life on Mars?”. The answer is looking increasingly negative but the effort to find life further afield is ramping up. Astronomers have discovered over 1,000 exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) so far and serious dollars are being pumped into technology that can pick up the chemical signals of life across the galaxy. Well life as we know it Jim. Astro biologist types think that the presence of methane and nitrous oxide is a good indication that ET is at home. The unimaginatively named European Extremely Large Telescope* (due to go online in 2022) should be sensitive enough to make out chemical concoctions on planets over 4,000 light years away. I wonder how people will react if/when they detect something. It’ll cause quite a stir despite there being exactly two thirds of five eighths of sod all chance human kind will have any meaningful contact.
In my experience some people are total suckers for the alien conversation. Forgive my gross stereotyping but these people often work in IT and spend too much time playing Dungeons and Dragons. As I can’t just talk to my husband at these functions, I’ll have to come up with a fresh tactic. Politics can be relied upon to stir the blood.
I may try raising the threat of double dissolution should Tony Abbott’s repeal of the carbon tax be blocked by the senate next year. The prospect should have most people howling “Oh God Nooooooooooooooooooo” and diving for the drinks esky. However there’s a certain percentage who will get really riled up and that my friends is entertainment. Some will strike up the war cry of “bring it on! I can’t wait to kick that d#@k head Abbott out before he takes this country back to the 1950s”. Others will dig their heels in and declare “Damn straight those pinko, greenie clowns must repent the carbon tax and stop masturbating while they are at it”. If you get one of each in your group just sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
So will I be talking rockstar astronauts, exoplanets and politics at my next Christmas function? Probably not before three chardonnays and a good helping of cabanossi.
Would you be game enough to make chit chat with me at a Christmas party? How do you plan to deal with tedious small talk this silly season?
* What is it about heroic types and homo-erotic moustaches? Its a look that only suits one person, and he’s technically a polar bear.
* European Extremely Large Telescope – Oh my there’s fun to be had renaming that thing.