CANONS OF CODGER CONVERSATION

A random compilation for the amelioration of insufferable codger conversation, composed by the chief of codger conversational sinners.

  • As the codger conclave convenes, repeat to yourself three times: I will not interrupt.
  • No more than three sentences about health issues. Organ recitals are absolutely forbidden.
  • Serious talk is encouraged, grave talk is not.
  • Three sentences, maximum, about a grandchild. One grandchild, maximum, mentioned per conversation.
  • Be abstemious with first person pronouns and superlative adjectives.
  • Listen for edification, not for an inhalation break so you can slip a word in edgewise.
  • Do not jump on a word in the speaker’s sentence to take the conversation in a hard turn down a new topical bunny trail. It is maddeningly rude and cannot be excused under the cover of advanced years. (Perhaps the canon most often violated.)
  • If you cannot stick to the thread of the conversation, take another sip of coffee.
  • Humble brags are forbidden. Bald-faced brags are grounds for banishment.
  • The purpose of conversation is not to eradicate silence. If you abhor silence, you have not yet mastered the art of conversation, and time is running out.
  • When a conversational thread is exhausted, the best way to initiate a new one is to ask a question.
  • Listening, or better yet, interviewing, makes new friends and strengthens old friendships.
  • If you realize you are the only one laughing at your jokes, cease and desist. Perhaps one in ten self-diagnosed comedians really is. Observe with discernment: if the laughter of listeners sounds politely forced, it probably is. Apply the same remedy.
  • If the conversation is scintillating, ask more questions to keep it going. If it bores you, remain silent. When all listeners are mute and/or gazing about the room, a considerate codger will cease his monologue. Such discernment with the mouth engaged is a codger’s most challenging multi-task.
  • If your expressed original idea or analysis comes back to you as established knowledge at the next codger conclave, quietly congratulate yourself—do not try to claim the credit.
  • The following are banned:
    • A mid-sentence interruption correcting an insignificant, self-evident error in the speaker’s story—a codger conversation killer.
    • A pause, mid-sentence, followed by, “I’m having a senior moment.”
    • “That’s what I said.”
    • “That’s what you said.”
    • “I bought last time.”
  • The following are allowed:
    • “Tell me again your wife/son/daughter/brother/sister’s name.”
    • “Tell me your name again?” (allowed only for the most advanced codgers)
    • “What did we decide about________?”
    • “Who bought last time?”
    • A one word interjection, when it is apparent the speaker is having a senior moment, filling in the blank in the speaker’s sentence. (He’ll love you forever for demonstrating you are paying such close attention to his story.)
  • If you’ve heard the story before, casually raise your right hand, with only the index finger extended, even with your right ear. When all listeners have their hand in the air, the talker must stop. No exceptions.
  • Debrief yourself on the way  home. If you think you might have dominated the conversation, vow to amend your ways.
  • The toughest commandment of all the canons: Before opening your mouth, ask yourself, would a majority of this group give a hoot about this subject.

If every codger in the conclave can master these canons, they’ll be bosom buddies for life—candidates for sainthood.

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