Last week was my wife’s birthday. To celebrate, we got together with some friends on Friday night at our favorite restaurant. I even surprised my wife by getting one of her college roommates to drive in for the evening from 3 hours away. (Yes, I scored some major cool husband points for that.)
It was a fantastic evening: great food, great friends and plenty to drink. I confess that I even treated myself to some Pappy 15 at dinner. Please don’t hate me for it.
I sat back and took it all in as everyone was deep in conversation. There we were – all seven of us chatting away, having a grand old time. We forgot about work for a couple of hours, didn’t worry about the kids and let ourselves enjoy each other’s company. It made me feel like I was back in college again, hanging out with friends at a bar on a Friday night. Man, did it ever feel good.
That was two days ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t think any of else wanted the moment to end. At that moment, we were all young and free again. Ready to take on anything that life could throw at us. I may sound a bit overdramatic, but it’s not the first time I’ve felt this way about a great conversation with friends. I feel that way anytime I’m with a group of people, and our conversation goes to the next level, which I call “banter.” Others refer to it as nothing more than a “great conversation,” but that word doesn’t convey the type of dialog between people I’m referring to. Banter is the only word that does.
Banter is effortless conversation. It’s free of ego, unfiltered and honest. As many of us look for honesty in a bar, I look for honesty in conversation. Banter is what I call that type of conversation. It is one of life’s true pleasures, and the word is filled with some of my fondest memories.
My desire for good old-fashioned banter is half of the reason this blog exists. In today’s society, it’s too damn hard to sit down and simply have a conversation without fear of saying something that either offends someone or pisses them off. I’m tired of people bringing their agenda to the conversation or learning that they’re just waiting for me to admit something contrary to their beliefs so they can pass judgment. If I have to jump through hoops to gain your respect, I’ll pass on having a drink with you. Trust is something that’s earned. Not respect. Respect is something everyone deserves.
I know it’s far from scientific, but I’ve found that conversing with others over bourbon eliminates any of the above issues. Nine times out of 10, conversation over bourbon leads to a wonderful round of banter. Research folks call this a correlation and quickly warn me that drinking bourbon does not cause or guarantee good banter. And since they’re smarter than me, I believe them.
I doubt I’ll ever do any respectable research to prove otherwise, so for now, I will abide by these four principles.
- People should stop bitching, fighting and complaining.
- Get over yourself and get to know others.
- Bickering is not bantering. If you’re bickering, please read #1 above and try again.
- If you meet someone who loves and respects bourbon, buy them a drink. Banter is sure to follow.
Everyone has to figure this out for themselves, but I hope my little rant allows some of you to realize that there are people like yourself. As for those of you looking to mend some fences, reconnect with lost friends or make some new ones, might I suggest getting together over a glass of bourbon and seeing where the conversation takes you? If you’re lucky, you’ll find that banter heals all sorts of ills.