The only reason people have kids or pets is so that they have something to talk about at dinner parties.
Observe the standard middle class dinner party. It’s a constant back and forth summation of the current affairs of the involved parties’ children. Janey’s doing her bachelor of science. Alex just got a job at Starbucks. Ruth started to learn the clarinet. Peter got an A minus in his Napoleon essay. To an observer it’s a verbal Wimbledon match, back and forth in constant oral retaliation. Whoever can maintain a rally with the most inane stories about their children wins.
You’d think that both parties should come quite quickly to the conclusion that neither side is the slightest bit interested in the other person’s kids. There are periods where one parent group will appear to be listening, but they only put on a front of nodding and making impressed exclamations, when really they are busy racking their brains for the latest eccentric stories from their offspring.
Occasionally both sides lose out, and cannot think of anything. That’s where a dog comes in handy – or as I like to call them “furry conversation buffers.” As soon as an awkward silence descends on the room, one can seek shelter in the back and forth nonsense about whatever the dog is up to at that given point until they can get back into a proper children to children rally.
“Oh, Rover….What on earth are you up to now!?”
At which point everyone’s attention is momentarily shifted to the dog who was just scratching himself in the corner, minding his own business. Rover is met by a hoard of bizarre baby noises, laughter at his crazy nature, and a swapping of cutesy pet stories. He tires of this and leaves, at which point both pairs have had adequate time to recover and engage in another assault.
“You know Beverly said the most adorable thing the other day….”
Children’s main purpose is to facilitate the talking of dinner table babble and their success is measured by how many interesting avenues of conversation they can supply. If you believe this to be too cynical than I suggest you test it for yourselves.
The next time you succeed in anything, swear your parents to secrecy. Whatever oath they make, I’ll wager that as soon as another other couple starts scoring more child-story points, they’ll retaliate with your private victory; spilling it out in front of everyone just to gain a small foothold in the dining room banter.