I hate talking about anything remotely controversial with anyone I’m related to or anyone I don’t know well. Maybe it’s because I’m stubborn or because I have a tendency to argue passionately with anyone who disagrees with me. But, at the same time, I jump at the chance to argue and debate with friends or classmates. It’s most likely the setting of the conversations. Non-best friend get togethers usually involve sitting around a table, chowing down in the midst of debates (and there’s usually drinking involved in some way) where as friendly debacles occur in casual and comfortable settings with people you can act more loosely around without the fear of being condemned. And that brings us to the crux of this post: the Dreaded Dinner Party.
The Dreaded Dinner Party is rarely held by friends you’re comfortable with because if it was, there would be no need to include ‘Dreaded’ in it’s title. Usually it’s family members or neighbors or even coworkers. People who you see enough that it wouldn’t be strange to spend time in their house but who you wouldn’t spill every detail to. The Dreaded Dinner Party begins as any other meal would, with polite small talk while everyone plays catch-up. And then, as the meal progresses and the minutes pass, the conversation begins to transition into a debate. Opinions are tossed around without consideration as to how their listeners may react and differing views clash.
Here are a few topics common during the “Not So Happy Hour” of the Dreaded Dinner Party: politics, racism, sexuality or anything of the LGBT+ variety, sex (slut shaming, sex education, etc.), sex in the media, the media in general, foreign affairs, religion (especially when religious views are not unanimous among the group), drugs, immigration, the American education system, economics, terrorism, poverty or class in general, abortions, etc.
Personally, I find nothing wrong with healthy debates about any of the topics mentioned above and I believe these topics do need to be talked about in a mature environment. I’m not saying intellectual discussions can’t be had at dinners parties, I mainly saying that opening up to discussions about these “controversial” topics is also opening up to the possibility of a level of awkwardness if someone in the group shares an unpopular opinion. The dinner party Obinze attends is a prime example. He arrives, has pleasant conversation, eats some of his dinner and proceeds to have a very levelheaded conversation that includes a woman named Alexa who has opinions that both I and the others at the dinner party disagree with. These opinions jumpstart an interesting discussion on racism and America that leaves Obinze feeling uncomfortable and alienated.
I can usually see the reasoning behind opinions I disagree with but that doesn’t stop me from firing back. And because of that, I do feel certain topics can initiate heated debates that can spiral out of control if people aren’t smart with what they say (or if they drink a bit too much). Because of this, I am among many that fear the Dreaded Dinner Party.
That’s it for now.