Friday, January 14, 2005

Why would you want to stop a BBQ?

Well, I don't. Sometimes it just kind of happens that way though.

Before I go any further, I should explain exactly just what the phrase "BBQ Stopper" actually means. It's Australian slang for a social incident or inappropriate comment that causes everyone at the BBQ to stop talking and look at you in a half-embarrassed, half-accusing kind of way.

So you don't know what a BBQ is either? Try here for starters.

In Australia, the BBQ is social ritual second to none. It typically involves large slabs of beef, pork and/or fish, an esky (or more commonly, several eskies) full of beer or other alcoholic beverages, a few friends and perhaps a bit of loud music. If there's a pool and it's a hot summer's day, so much the better. Typical kick-off time is about one in the afternoon, but the more dedicated BBQ fans have been known to start in the wee hours of the morning. As for when they finish... well, that's a completely different kettle of fish altogether.

So what type of thing is likely to stop a BBQ? Well, as always, it depends on the company. Conversations about politics and religion are definitely in the top ten. Over-loud mentions of particular medical conditions or sexual inclinations can do it as well. Fights, property damage and being an over-enthusiastic supporter of a local sporting team (not necessarily in that chronological order) can do it as well.

Personally, I find the term "BBQ Stopper" perfectly representative of a particular psychological quirk that I have observed in all sorts of people. This "quirk" is kind of like an "auto-shutdown" mechanism that automatically kicks in if a certain subject is deemed too "uncomfortable" for the person's psyche.

Now, by "shutdown" I don't necessarily mean that they stop talking and walk away (although that can, and does, happen). The "shutdown" can be manifested as aggressive argument, fluent change of subject in the middle of a sentence, uncomfortable silences... all kinds of interesting reactions. The general tendency above all is that a certain "switch" has been thrown in their mind. They go from being actively engaged in the conversation to metaphorically displaying a neon sign on their forehead that spells out the sentence, "I DON'T WANT TO KNOW".

They're talking away, drink in hand, happily enjoying their BBQ, and you just stopped it.

As you can probably gather, BBQ-stopping does not tend to have a net postive benefit to one's social status. So what is the point, you may ask?

Well, that's kind of why I set up this blog. To explore the whole idea of BBQ-stopping in all its psychological, socio-cultural, esoteric, practical, political and philosophical glory.

Zen and the Art of BBQ-stopping? Of course not - I'd probably be sued for trademark infringement.

And in case you were wondering, yes, "Mr Whippy" is in fact a nom de plume. I don't actually own an ice-cream van, nor drive one for a living. Although I certainly do dream of the day I can climb to those lofty heights. I actually work in I.T.

Whoops. Sorry about that.

Let's just forget I said that and go grab another burger, shall we?


At 10:46 am, Anonymous jeane said...

Excellent thinking. Spot on.


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