|sent from: London, UK. destination: Toronto, ON, Canada|
This American Life ran a story last week about the Seven Things You Shouldn’t Talk About, at least socially. They were – periods, your health, diet, dreams, how you slept, money, and route stories (ie. how you arrived that day). It pit the person asserting this – Maria Matthiessen, the mother of one of the producers, against the staff to see if they could come up with interesting stories on these subjects and prove her wrong. Maria would judge if they had been successful.
TAL did well, but in the end they confirmed her original thesis, that these are not good dinner party conversation topics – EXCEPT, I think, in one case. Route stories. How you got somewhere. The roads you had taken, the obstacles encountered. TAL presented a wonderful, heartbreaking conversation between Chris Garcia and his father, taking place during a journey through the streets of LA, which Maria correctly judged to be not a route story but more about fathers + sons.
What compels me about route stories, the angle TAL missed, is that the routes we all take are the massive daily real-world video game we all play. The streets are the game map, our routine is the objective, and quite literally the whole world stands in the way of that. Negotiating our way way through this open-world game engine with photo-real graphics and sensory input, and our breathless recounting of our exploits to our friends, is perfect dinner party fodder.
Multiplayer is even better.