The Best Dinner Conversation You've Ever Had...
The Man and I were talking last night about how hard it is to get just the right mix of people together for dinner to have great conversation that flows well and easily throughout the evening.
Do you remember the best dinner party conversation you've ever had? What do you remember about it, and what were the dynamics or contributing factors?
I wouldn't call this a dinner "party," exactly, but, with apologies to my husband and family, my very best, most interesting, most fun dinner conversations happen when I'm having dinner with my closest women friends. Any time two to six of us are gathered in the same place, at the same time, where there's good food and (almost always) good wine, the conversation is never-ending and effortless. It doesn't matter what we're talking about -- and let me say, it's not just idle gossip -- the conversation is just free-flowing. The only down-side is that if we're in a restaurant, all too often we end up closing the place down because we're the last ones there. And that's not because we didn't sit down until late; it's because we've managed to spend 3-4 hours over a meal. (And yes, we DO tip very generously in consideration of the time we've spent.) We also get together fairly often at each others' homes for organized "pot luck" dinners. Same fun; same dynamic. I guess we just "click."
Maybe not the best I've ever had, but in recent memory.... in La Paz, Bolivia, at lunch with my 82 year old father and some of his old school friends, at one of their homes, with "comida nacional" on the table, prepared by their indigenous servants, and the conversation ranged from the state of Bolivia, their opinions about Evo (mixed), their opinions about Obama (favorable), the plight of the indigenous, the perception of "reverse racism", and the best wine and chocolate of Bolivia. These were all really sharp, albeit much older, educated people, and it was fascinating listening to them. Contributing factor was, obviously, that i was in an exotic locale, but these people were just good conversationalists.
I love the give and take of a good conversation. Some people are better at it than others.
And this is a generalization, but one that anecdotally holds true for me - the conversations I have with my Cali friends, particularly the younger ones, is blanketed with a sort of political correctness that makes it challenging to have interesting or meaningful conversation. My friends from abroad however, particularly Europe and other non-Asian countries, seem to have less of a problem with having and expressing ideological differences and still remaining friends at the end of the night.
I have had two, that really stand out in my mind.
One was at a restaurant, and a donor was giving us £10M for our charity.
The other was at an event, and that donor was giving us US $ 15M, for an arm of the same charity.
Each was filled with some wonderful, and light conversation, but then those donors stepped up, and committed to some great causes. Best of all worlds.
Have to say that in both cases, had they NOT committed, the dinners would have been great, none the less.
Family dinners with my kids nothwithstanding, or dinners with my brothers and sisters notwithstanding, one of the most fun, entertaining and strangely best dinner "conversations" I've ever had was actually this past summer. We were at my fiance's aunt's apartment in Paris. When we visit, she always manages to pull together some extremely interesting dinner parties. This was no exception. She had invited one of her friends who hosts a "jazz" program on one of the radio stations over there. Anyway, my French is not good. Her friend's English was even worse than my French. In some totally bizarre way, we were able to converse about jazz and old swing music. When the conversation got to "Do you know this song"...He would sing a song and I would start getting all over-excited and clapping and laughing (lots of wine to), then I would sing a song and he would nod and smile in a very understated french way.
I'll tell you this was just an all-around great "conversation" of sorts because it made me realize that music truly has no language boundaries!
Other than family meals that habitually lasted 2-4 hours due to good cooking and great conversation, I would have to say northern Bavaria, 1978.
The weekend had arrived and all tanks had to be off the roads. In the field, I was assigned to the tactical operations center. We operated very light out of a 2 and 1/2 ton truck, and a gaggle of jeeps. In the field, that is what controlled the most powerful armor division in Europe.
For those with marks, you were authorised to hit the weekend gasthaus across the street. Limit of 1 liter beer or wine, no hard stuff. Being the junior officer, butter bar, I and the Intell NCO had the duty. Cold C rations again.
Next thing I know, my boss, the G-3 walks in with his huge can of jalapenos. Next comes the commanding generals' aide to get the weekend communications info, then the CG himself. I brief the CG on unit locations so he can wander around and visit units unannounced. Then he asks if he could join us for dinner!
The NCO breaks open a new case of rats so I can scarf up my bosses favorite, chopped ham and egg. The CG's aide gets theirs and we all sat at the little field table drinking coffee, eating jalapenos and cold c rats. We discussed German politics, especially what ultimately morphed into the Green Party, best factories to buy Bavarian crystal and china, whether the exchange and commisary should be open on Sunday, and how much friendlier the Germans were the closer we got to the Czech border!!
This was not an isolated incident, just the first time for me. Had a lot of great bull sessions over c rats in the field. But as it is well known, you never forget your first time.
easy (tho not a dinner party) - i met a woman at a poetry reading. she was, understandably in NYC i suppose, wary of my advances, but i was semi relentless - in a nice way of course. She liked the poetry i read at the open mike, which made her more amenable i suppose. The reading ended early, about 7:30 pm, and i wasn't supposed to meet another friend (also a poet) to take him out for birthday cocktails until 9. I said this to her and suggested we go for a drink or coffee or something. she said "I'm going out for breakfast" Undeterred i said "I love breakfast" and we went to the waverly diner. The talk flowed easily and was a great conversation.
now we are very in love we've been seeing each other for 2 years.