Sunday, May 23, 2010


Ooooo the post that had to happen! The election we had to have...

Banter: The quality and art of one's conversational abilities.

The quality of someone's banter can define their lives, and after dark, when the day is over and people creep out to cafes, bar and restaurants - the restrictions are lifted on what we discuss, how we interact and how well we get the message across.

Being a bartender leaves one with the special privilege of seeing how all walks of life talk amongst each other and with strangers. So we open the topic today riding on my experiences listening to the public, and industry folk, with no clear goal except to embark on a journey of discovery into language and people.

To facilitate this, in my complete gall and pomp, I've come up with a character heirachy to help categorize the quality of people's banter to help open up the topic a bit, and dissect what's behind aaaallllll those words:

The Banter Heirachy - listed from least desirable, to the very best characters. Order may change slightly in future
  1. Banterless: this person has absolutely nothing to say for themselves. This is not necessarily an unattractive quality, because no banter is often better than bad banter, but conversations tend to be short.
  2. Evil banter: the type of person who's soul has been stained with acid and rust beyond cure. Someone so poisonous that no good utters forth from their mouths. Turn and walk the other way with your 20th Century cocktail immediately.
  3. Rubbish Banter: the character who talks loads - often in great volumes about himself or herself, and often about subjects which he/she clearly knows very little about. It can be a torrid barstool next to this character - arm yourself with overproof rye whisky in double quantities!
  4. Idol Worshiper: Very closely related to Rubbish Banter, Idol Worship has the alchemic power to turn any subject into a discussion about themselves. I'm all for romance, except when that romance is sloppy, passionate and public. With yourself.
  5. Ranter: This fella's great in small doses. Always imbued with a fervent cause, the ranter'll raise his voice and argue to the death on all of his favourite topics. Observe him at the height of the night doing battle or blowing down the walls of some poor chick who's got too many manners to tell him to shut up.
  6. The Tech-spert: This harder-to-find breed is an authority on selected topics, but alas! Take 'em off topic and they're fish out of water to the last. The tech-spert will throw 3 solid hours (or more) of banter at you going to the minutest detail on the subject with total abject fascination. To endure this requires simply....chemical drugs.
  7. The Nutter/Fruit Loop: Depending on what kind of day they're having - these unpredictable folk can be further up or down the list. No social convention is safe, and no subject is off topic. The nutter is free in the simplest sense. Freedom of expression in any shape or form. Watch out for colourful clothing or silly haircuts, and possibly dredlocks - if they look like a bit of fun buy 'em a shot and engage at will.
  8. Average Joe/Jane: Slotting comfortably into the list is the everyday person. Comprising the biggest banter category are the folk who just do their thing typically, be it talking about reality TV, current affairs or sports. Most are comfortable to coast on this level for the course of their lives, and fall victim easily to the banter of characters 1 - 7.
  9. Jack-in-the-box: Jack and Jill are a pleasurable find to come across. They're most often knocking about in camouflage as Average Joes, but then they surprise you by pulling out gems of information, and left-field opinions on things which are either interesting, funny or both. Engaging with the Joe's is a worthy pursuit simply based on the hope of meeting a Jack. Buy them some biscotti to make 'em feel appreciated.
  10. True breeds: Simply put, the type of folk that you'll quickly develop a man or woman crush on. The true breed is an exquisite character possessing charm, poise and wit. Ready to deal with life's situations with flair and good humour, he or she'll share info in such a way that'll leave you feeling better than you were. Be aware! True breeds often operate like terrorist sleeper cells and you may not even know you're sitting next to one. Engage therefore, at the peril of meeting the rest of our characters in the hope of snagging one of these rare beasts. Across the table with a glass of red is the best scenario - but any setting suits he or she just fine!
Phew! Just when you thought this crap would never end, I'm inserting a tiny elite elemental hierachy based on banter's nickname chat - this is a sub category of the true breeds, and a rating is generally agreed upon by close friends or peers:

  1. Bronze chat (although I think bronze is a mix of tin and nickel - fuck it, I'm not a chemist!)
  2. Silver chat.
  3. Gold chat.
  4. Platinum chat. You'll know within five minutes if you're dealing with one of these fine rare folk!
  5. Diamond encrusted platinum chat. Simply the best - I've probably met less than five of these ever. Pure unicorn shizzle.
Well I'm probably so far of course now that I'll leave you with a few discussional points on the categories, before tying this all together with the next post! Happy living out there...

  • People can be composites of some categories. Probably.
  • Alcohol and drugs amplify people's characterization, and often assist in helping folk switch between categories.
  • More characters probably need to be added.
  • Names will never, ever, be named.
  • Yeah that's all I've got for now - clearly not quite qualifying for an elemental rating. Bugger.

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