We're All Damaged

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Most Awesome Conversation Ever

This past weekend, I found myself on a rooftop deck in Baltimore with a cooler and a bunch of guys. It was a chilly night, but clear, and aside from police sirens and the occasional gun shot, it was silent and peaceful.

The night before, we’d all hung out together with our wives. This meant we’d had to talk about the things that men talk about when women are around, like property taxes, how fast infants grow out of onesies, and Grey’s Anatomy. As a defense mechanism, I did what I always do: held my drink tightly, smiled and played The Safety Dance over and over in my head.

But on this night, the wives were gone, off in dresses at a bachelorette party, and we were left to explore the intellectual boundaries of modern-day male discourse.

“So, I’ve got a question,” said one of us. It may have been me, but it doesn’t really matter; we’re all pretty much the same person. “Who do you think would win in a fight? A polar bear or a shark?”

For a moment there was silence and we all drank from what we were drinking, refusing to admit that we were freezing our a$$es off. “Where are they fighting?” asked one of us.

“Four feet of open water.”

Hmmm,” we all said, because this is an important detail.

“Are they mad?”

“Who, the animals? Of course, they’re a bear and a shark. They’re totally pissed. But don’t over think it.”

In a matter of seconds, each of us had drawn his own conclusion and committed himself to it fully. “It’s gotta be the polar bear,” said someone. “Definitely.”

“What are you, an idiot? Haven’t you seen Jaws? Sharks are freaking huge.”

“Yeah, in the middle of the ocean, the shark wins easily. But they’re only in four feet of water. A shark can’t maneuver. Remember that movie, the one with Samuel L. Jackson? Sharks can’t swim backwards. The bear would just punch the $hit out of it. Or bear hug it or something.”

“You can’t bear hug a shark, you moron. They’re like . . . slippery.”

“What about an insane rooster versus a snapping turtle?”

“No. No new match ups until we resolve bear v. shark.”

Three hours later, as we slurred and laughed and name called, our exhausted bear and shark remained locked in their soaking death grip, waiting to see who would be left standing or swimming. But by then the course of the conversation had drifted to the legalities and logistics required to buy a polar bear, a shark and a giant, four-foot deep swimming pool. We concluded that we’d probably have to do it in Singapore or some crazy-a$$ed place like that.

To my male readers, I bequeath you this topic for next time you find yourself in a room full of men. And, to my female readers, well, maybe you’ll take pause next time you have the impulse to ask “what are you thinking about?” as your boyfriend or husband is drifting off to sleep.

Now, about that rooster and turtle . . .


  1. Well. I guess I went to a Baltimore wedding the wrong year. I was there last March, but a little later in the month--so the talk was all basketball. Rooftop deck, yes, gunshots, yes, but no sharks, no polar bears. It seemed great then, but now I feel let down.

  2. I think a crocodile v a lion would be a good match up.

  3. Here's a possible debate topic for your next male-bonding-drinking night: Would Kodiak bears make good U.S. border guards? And, if so, stage the scenario.

    A heated, drunken debate on this subject recently took place in Reston, VA, among a group of men AND women :)