More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

20th Century (Give or Take a Decade) Wrap-Up

The 21st century is well underway. So far, it’s proving to be no better than the last one. So, let’s take a look at the last century and this one.

Most Remembered Today For

1900 Fat, mustached, cigar-puffing plutocrats.
1910 All those Peanuts strips where Snoopy fights the Red Baron.
1920 Ah, the carefree days of raccoon coats and flappers, where young people gaily sip bootleg hootch unaware of that their meaningless lives will soon face impending doom.
1930 Unmitigated misery.
1940 Saving Private Ryan.
1950 Elvis.
1960 The fact that many Baby Boomers still live in that decade.
1970 History’s most awful fashions.
1980 “She’s a maniac…maniac…out on the floor. And she’s dancing like she’s never danced before…”
1990 Whining.
2000 9/11.

Favorite Pasttime

1900 Subjugating native populations.
1910 Dying of pneumonia.
1920 Dancing the Charleston while realizing how banal their daily existence really is.
1930 Racism.
1940 Blowing things up.
1950 Paranoia.
1960 Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
1970 Lots of sex, even more drugs, and disco.
1980 Safe sex, saying you say no to drugs, poofy-haired British new-wave synthesizer bands.
1990 Collecting cute, worthless crap.
2000 Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, texting, online gaming, and other ways to avoid being with people.

Sign That You Made It

1900 Having a mountain in Africa named after you.
1910 Getting first-class luxury seats on a Titanic lifeboat.
1920 Going to Paris and living a shallow, dissipated life of ennui, and then writing about it.
1930 First in line at the soup kitchen.
1940 Surviving “The Big One” at Normandy and 50 years later being interviewed for documentaries.
1950 Being like everyone else.
1960 Dying of a heroin overdose before going on stage at the Fillmore.
1970 A guest appearance on the Love Boat.
1980 “The Donald” returns your calls.
1990 Having Elton John sing at your funeral.
2000 Having the collapse of your marriage and/or career covered on TMZ.

Drug of Choice

1900 Coca-Cola.
1910 Opium, cocaine, morphine, and other over-the-counter drugs.
1920 Illegally imported cognac that you sip while contemplating the emptiness of life.
1930 Socialism.
1940 Whisky at the O club.
1950 Drugs for every member of the family! Double martinis for dad, tranquilizers for mom, sniffing glue for Junior, and catnip for Fluffy!
1960 All of them.
1970 Cocaine for breakfast, Harvey Wallbangers and poppers for lunch, pot for dinner, and Quaaludes for a nightcap.
1980 Greed.
1990 Drugs for every member of the family! Viagra for dad, Prozac for mom, Ritalin for Junior, and Program for Fluffy!
2000 Fame.

Idea of Great Sex

1900 Naughty stereographs from Paris.
1910 Raping nuns in Belgium.
1920 Ripping each other apart with rapier wit, then making desperate, empty love, unaware of the moral, emotional morass into which you are drifting.
1930 Invading Czechoslovakia.
1940 Luring exceedingly grateful French girls with chocolate bars and cigarettes.
1950 Making out in your parents’ bomb shelter.
1960 Making out practically anyplace.
1970 Was too stoned to remember.
1980 Screwing your competitors.
1990 After you complete HIV tests and provide each other with exhaustive sexual histories, you first obtain written permission to go out on an unchaperoned date. Then, you must obtain her written permission to kiss her on the lips. You need another written permission from her to give her a French kiss. Then…
2000 Banging mistresses on the PGA Tour.

Greatest Fear

1900 “That wicked, wicked jazz.”
1910 Foreigners.
1920 Nothing they were brave enough to express, but yet the nagging feeling that their lives were bereft of meaning.
1930 Fear itself.
1940 According to all those John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, and Audie Murphy movies, nothing.
1950 Communists, aliens from outer space who symbolize communists, 50-foot-tall ants mutated by atomic bomb tests required because of the communists, finely choreographed street gangs on the west side of Manhattan who are probably influenced by communists, communists launching little bleeping balls into earth orbit, rock ‘n’ roll that was created by communists…
1960 The Man.
1970 Running out of gas on an “even” day when you have an “odd” license plate.
1980 Rocky losing to that evil steroid-pumped Russkie, Ivan Drago.
1990 Heart disease, breast cancer, kids finding pornography on the Internet, getting shot at your school or work, O.J. Simpson, getting downsized, getting rightsized, Y2K, having your favorite supermarket merged into another one, Starbucks running out of decaf French vanilla…
2000 Another 9/11.