A Guide to Shorthand Conversations

Recently, the amount of meaningless, worthless conversations on the Berkeley
campus has escalated to a disturbing level. Perhaps it’s just the angst of
post-modern man, maybe it’s the anxiety caused by the impending millennium,
or maybe it’s just nostalgia for the long-gone McDLT, but it seems like no
one can even go to the restroom nowadays without getting bogged down by five
minutes of meaningless drivel. With that in mind, here’s a shorthand guide
to many conversations one can expect to be faced with, and their corresponding
numbers. Ideally, when one senses that another cliched conversation is about
to be thrust upon him, one can simply say the number, or just raise the
appropriate number of fingers, and then proceed with the rest of his or her

Any conversation that is about politics, taking place between people with
no knowledge of politics whatsoever.

This can be summarized as follows: “I believe Clinton should be impeached
because blah blah blah damned liberals” or “Kenneth Starr is a big jerk blah
blah blah right-wing conspiracy.” When faced with such a conversation just
raise a single finger (make sure it’s the right one), and don’t even think
about saying the phrase, “It tastes good.”

“Hey, what are you doing tonight?”

Nobody cares what you’re doing tonight. They just ask out of politeness.
Whether you say “going to a party,” “studying,” or even “masturbating while listening to No Doubt” the response will invariably be, “That’s cool.” Don’t go down that road, my friends. This conversation generally consists of one person expressing sexual desire for a third party, and outlining possible plans for obtaining sex and/or a relationship. Saying “three” could be replaced by simply saying, “hypothalamus,” but that might prove cumbersome.

The differences between men and women.

Outlined as follows: Trite comments about gender differences. Example. Small
laughter. Ludicrous extension of first example. More laughter. Agreement and mutual wonder at the grand difference between the sexes. Repeat.

A reference to some element of pop culture known to all.

Hey, remember the Smurfs? Wasn’t it weird that there was only one girl? Hey,
remember that “Seinfeld” episode where all of their plans get frustrated in the end? Wasn’t that great? Don’t you want to relive the magic of sharing that cultural moment again and again and again? And again?


This covers plans to get drunk/high, stories about crazy things done while
drunk/high, cool places to go and cool things to do while drunk/high, and
assurances that one will never get drunk/high ever again, at least for a
while. Most importantly, this covers conversations about being drunk/high
that take place while drunk/high. “Boy, this controlled substance has really
altered my perceptions of myself since before I was under the influence of
this controlled substance.”


Have you seen this movie? Isn’t Scorsese a great director? Do you actually
possess any knowledge about film that would give you the authority to make this judgment, or are you simply talking out of your ass? Any uninformed discussion of movies, full of pretentiousness and bluster, falls into this category. Similarity is seen to #1, but it is the opinion of Pentavirate West that this is a large enough conversational annoyance to necessitate its own division and number.

This Theory of Conversational Shorthand, while useful, is not without its limitations. Conversations about conversations (meta-conversations) are not covered by this shorthand guide. Mathematician Kurt Godel’s famous Incompleteness Theorem also states that there are true conversations that cannot be derived by the Theory of Conversational Shorthand, as well as false conversations produced by said theory. That being said, it is hoped that this guide can expedite your small talk and leave more time for the truly important things in life; namely, this hot girl named Amy in my building. (3)