A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.—Truman Capote
There is no predicting the future, no matter how hard we might try. There are prognosticators and statisticians working like crazy in an attempt to predict how Super Bowl 50 is going to play out tomorrow. Everyone wants a good game, and everyone wants their favorite team to win. However, there are times when that just doesn’t happen. In fact, there are five Super Bowls, three involving the Denver Broncos, there were nothing short of blowouts. They were, in order of severity:
- Super Bowl XXII – Washington Redskins 42 – Denver Broncos 10
- Super Bowl XXVII – Dallas Cowboys 52 – Buffalo Bills 17
- Super Bowl XLVIII – Seattle Seahawks 43 – Denver Broncos 8
- Super Bowl XX – Chicago Bears 46 – New England Patriots 10
- Super Bowl XXIV – San Francisco 49ers 55 – Denver Broncos 10
Those scores are rather depressing if one is a Broncos fan. No matter how much one might want to see Peyton Manning go out on top, the very real numbers are not necessarily in his favor. There is a frightening chance that by the end of the halftime show there’s not much left to do besides eat hot wings and chat with whomever is left in the room. This could get awkward, especially if one happens to be at a Super Bowl party where one doesn’t know many people. Yeah, we’ve been there.
However, and you can thank me for this later, I have compiled a list of topics that are great conversation starters. You have some time between now and tomorrow to study up a little bit so that should there be an unforeseen lull in the game, you can break the silence and monotony with one of these gems. You may be the one who actually saves the party! Any of these can work, so take a good look and find a couple with which you can get comfortable.
- Traffic fatalities took a huge jump last year. When one considers the increase as a percentage, 9.3 doesn’t sound like much. Yet, in terms of real numbers, we’re looking at an increase of 2,200 and those numbers are still preliminary; they could go up. Now, there’s no need for complete panic just yet. When one adjusts for the numbers of cars on the road, which also increased, the percentage falls to five percent, which isn’t nearly as alarming. What seems to be the difference? Two major contributors seem apparent. One is the decline in road conditions. We’ve heard about our crumbling infrastructure for a few years and now that lack of attention is costing real lives. The second is distracted driving, with cell phones being the primary culprit. That particular problem is 100 % preventable. Play this topic off one of the many new car ads running during tomorrow’s game.
- A sale isn’t always as good as it looks. Everyone’s looking for a bargain, right? In fact, we all know someone who enjoys bragging about the deals they’ve scored. They never pay regular price for anything. However, many stores, especially department stores such as Nordstrom and Kohls, are facing an increased number of class-action lawsuits based on what consumers consider deceptive sale pricing. Shoppers see a 75% off sign, but fail to read the small print that qualifies how that 75% is actually calculated. There are other times when sale prices and regular prices appear to be the same. JC Penney set aside a whopping $50 million to settle a suit claiming their 40% off prices were actually their regular prices. Designer Michael Kors settled a suit claiming made-for-outlet goods were misrepresented as discounted regular clothing. Stores often settle these suits so they don’t have to admit any wrongdoing. Remember that when your favorite retailer’s ad pops up on the screen between downs.
- Twitter is changing to be more like Facebook. This topic may only work if you’re watching the big game with people who are constantly looking at their smartphones. People who don’t use social media, and especially those who don’t use Twitter, won’t give a damn. Those who do, though, are likely to be furious. Switching the timeline feed over to an algorithm similar to the kind Facebook uses means that tweets will not necessarily appear in chronological order. Popular and trending topics would appear first. On one hand, it might help sort out what’s important from all the white noise that Twitter attracts. At the same time, though, those who don’t have 20 million followers might have difficulty getting their tweets seen at all. While Twitter has yet to officially respond to this Buzzfeed article, the lack of a denial has the hashtag #RIPTwitter trending. Use this when you see everyone at the party staring at their phone.
- Beer is getting into the fashion business. In a way, this isn’t the biggest revelation in the world, but given the number of beer ads shown during the game, it’s an easy segue for conversation. What’s going on is that more beer companies, from small-label craft beers to mass-produced brands such as Heineken (which does have a new ad during the game) are doing collaborations with designers to work their logos into clothing designs. We’re talking about more than just the PBR fishing hat or the Bud Light t-shirt here. Brands are spending major cash to have their brands show up subtly on department store shelves attached to designer names. They’re also likely to show up in places like the comforter on the bed at your favorite B&B, or the shades your girlfriend is wearing. While the collaborations haven’t gotten too noisy yet, if those $5 million ads don’t work we may see Clydesdale imprints on the catwalk come fall.
- The Zika virus has the UN asking countries to loosen abortion restrictions. Warning: only use this topic if the game is a complete blowout and you’re desperate for some aggressive action. You won’t find this in any US newspaper because, to date, Zika isn’t an American problem. By summer, though, when the mosquito population increases and people are out more, we could see the issue here as well. Zika is a devastating mosquito-born disease that primarily affects the brain size of newborns. There is no cure, and to date there is no sure means of prevention. Pregnant women are, of course, most at risk, but it is worth noting that the disease can also be spread through sexual activity. The Zika outbreak has been declared a global health concern and even insurance companies, who are not prone to wanting government interference, are asking for help in finding some way to slow this deadly disease. Ths one is certain to start a lively conversation, though, so don’t bring it up unless the game is just so far gone that you’re need something dramatic to prevent you from stabbing your eyes with a colored toothpick.
Sure, we all hope the game is close and that you never have any reason to take your eyes off the screen. We also hope you don’t get food poisoning for wings that have been left out too long. Still, it is better to be prepared than caught sitting in a quiet room where everyone can hear you fart.
And if all else fails, try stripping in front of the TV. If that doesn’t start a conversation, it’s time to leave.