12 emergency topic changers for Turkey Day

Posted: November 22, 2012

You know it.

The election is still fresher than that can of cranberry sauce you're gonna crack open.

So, Thanksgiving Day, there's a solid shot some in-law is going to try to pry someone's mind or mouth open to discuss one of the most bitterly fought political contests in four score and 20 years.


Do not take the bait.

Instead, have handy some dandy defections.

The more mind-boggling the better.

Seriously. No subject is safe. The weather? "I'm &%$@# sick of hearing about climate change," Uncle Fred might bellow. How's work? "Blankety-expletive-blanking unemployment rate!"

Here are a dozen suggestions. Just blurt 'em. Artful segues let riled kinfolk segue back.

1. Reveal the most insane "sighting" you ever had. Ever had a close encounter with an alien, Bigfoot or Angelina Jolie? Now's the time to bring it up, brother.

2. Make up a past life. "Did I ever tell that in a past lifetime, I think I was an aboriginal medicine man? I remember serving potions in the skull of a kangaroo. The ingredients were nastier than giblets!"

3. Take an extreme position on an extremely trivial matter. "You know, the death penalty might not deter murderers, but I'll bet it would stop folks from wearing sweater vests!" Use a different article of clothing ("socks that don't match") if cousin Jeff has a sweater vest.

4. Spontaneously start singing "The Name Game." "Yeah! Obama, 'Bama, Bo-bama, Banana-fana fo-Fama, Fee-Fi-mo-mama, Obama!" Take another drink. Wait for another name.

5. Talk about dental work. Nobody likes to think about dental work. This will shut down all of your adversary's mental functions. Blabber on about drills, extractions, root canals, crowns, cavities, Novacaine, or - shudder- flossing, if necessary.

6. Ask for helpful ideas. "I'm trying to win a contest. Got a great Irony of Life? Like, why does toast always fall buttered-side down? Why doesn't the neighbor's dog poop on his lawn? Why are the films called Die Hard if Bruce Willis always lives?"

7. Ask a "Family Feud" question. "I keep thinking about this Family Feud question: 'Name someone you don't want to come home and find in your house.' I said, a giant baboon with fangs spewing hanta virus. I mean, I wouldn't want to find that in my house. But nobody said it! What would you say? ... So guess what what they said? Rats, burglar, cheating spouse, snakes - but not leaky roof or busted plumbing! Can you believe it?"

8. Start snickering about a raunchy joke. "I'm sorry. Tee-hee. I can't stop thinking of this joke I heard today. Chuckle. Chortle. Guffaw." If he begs, start to whisper, then say, "Oh, I can't. Some kid might overhear." Tease until someone says, "The game's on" or "Can someone carve the turkey?" Knee-slapping might help.

9. Pretend to keep hearing incorrectly. He says "fiscal cliff," you talk about face lifts. Voter fraud? Talk about your old Polaroids.

10. Claim to have a hitman friend. "Did I ever tell you my best friend in high school turned out to be 'mechanic' for the mob? And I don't mean he fixed cars. We still keep in touch. Last month ..." Imagined threats turn conversation to lighter topics.

11. Act overly fascinated with a minor phenomenon. "Whoa, dude, ever really look at beer bubbles? I mean, really look at them? I mean, they rise soooo slooooow. How do they do that, dude?" Trying to imitate the tone of the dude in the "Double Rainbow" YouTube video.

12. Describe the grossest medical procedure you ever had or witnessed. The last gasp - or the first, depending on who you're dealing with. "Did I ever tell you how the anesthesia wore off during my abdominal surgery? I couldn't believe the smell. ... I still have the tumor in this big jar in my basement. There's a photo on my cell phone. Want to see it?" This has the added advantage of clearing the entire room.

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