When you’re married and you go to married people things (Dinner parties! Baby showers! Game nights!) you may notice a natural division in attendees. The ladies go to one room and chirp about lady things, while the guys go to another—outside by the grill, in the kitchen, near a TV—and talk about manly things.
This can be difficult for geeks, who do not travel with the Burdening Cloak of Macho so many men adorn when other males are about. Geeks don’t feel the need to keep up on things they don’t care about when other men aren’t around; they’re too busy geeking out on their true passions. But you can’t always proclaim your geekiness. Sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow until the married people event is over. Below you’ll find a list of topics—and tips for talking about said topics—commonly discussed among males, useful for when sitting with the ladies isn’t an option, and when it would be considered rude to stare at the RSS reader on your phone. Though these are common in married men gatherings, they can also be applied to just about any other place that males congregate, like at work, or in an elevator.
How do you get to work?
Ask the guys around you about the different roads they take, the traffic patterns on popular roads, shortcuts they know about, and their travel times. This topic can carry you a solid 20 to 30 minutes, especially if you live in a large city.
Convo starter: “I hate traffic on Providence Road! Don’t you?”
How do you like your steak?
Rare, well-done, still mooing, in your belly, whatever. You don’t need to know how to cook a steak; you just need to know where to get a good one. When in doubt, just use a chain restaurant.
Convo starter: “I love me some steak at TGIFriday’s! I had one last week, it was juicy and delicious.”
What team do you root for?
This one is a toughie, there are a staggering number of sports teams out there kicking or throwing different shaped balls for the amusement of your fellow guys. These conversations are littered with name drops, so watch out. If you don’t know anything about sports, it might be a good idea to just nod along, or piggy back off someone else and agree with everything they say. Or, you can learn all you can about one sports team, or even one game, and spend some time on that.
Convo starter: “Did you see when the Red and Orange’s played the Purple and Yellow’s last week? It was a bases-loaded touchdown!”
What kind of pet do you have?
By “pet” I mean dog. Talking about your dog is acceptable, but limit yourself to two silly dog stories, lest you become that weird guy. DO NOT talk about your cat. No one, I repeat, no one, likes to hear your cat stories.
Convo starter: “I have a pit-bull wildebeest mix named Bitey. Last week he ate three cats.”
What kind of car do you drive?
Know the make, model and year of your vehicle. Don’t have a car? Then you should know the details of a car you would like to own. Talk about how or where you bought the car, how much you paid for parts at a local auto store, or any weird quirks it might have.
Convo starter: “I have a 1994 Ford Thunderbird. It kinda smells like a grandma on the inside.”
These should get you through the event without ruffling feathers. Be on the lookout for fellow geeks, you might be able to score some successful geeky side conversations. For example if you’re talking about cars, and someone brings up GPS brands, and then that goes to GPS apps, then to smartphones, you might find your way into a tech enthusiast chat. Or maybe someone casually brings up Xbox because they got the new Call of Duty (common dudebro manly game, safe to chat about), you could test the waters with a Half-Life reference, and then possibly pursue that into deeper waters and drop some names of your own, like Shigeru Miyamoto.
Be patient and speak only when spoken to, and you’ll get through the night all right, you might even get invited to a guys night out (god help you). Good luck fellow geeks