Pine Nuts: Two cans and a string (Opinion) |

Pine Nuts: Two cans and a string (Opinion)

McAvoy Layne

A good friend drove an hour to have lunch with me in my kitchen. I can’t speak for him, but I’ve been in a good mood since. There are some health-giving qualities about one-on-one conversations that elevate them to the realm of tonics. Think back to how fun it was to talk to a friend as a child with two cans and a string.

Somehow, as we matured, we found value in chatrooms, Zoom, and other social media conveniences that tend to sideline personal conversations between two people.

Can you even have a conversation with more than two people, or does three people constitute a conference? In my experience, I’ve found that a two-person conversation develops a rhythm of its own, resembling a folksong without the music. I ask you, when was the last time you held a meaningful conversation with one other person for longer than five minutes?

I would like to ask Mr. Putin when he last held a meaningful conversation with one other person for longer than five minutes. The photo of Putin sitting at that looong table comes to mind.

Some of the charm in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can be found in the casual conversations Huck and Jim have while floating down the Mississippi together on a raft…

“I read considerable to Jim about kings and dukes and earls and such, and how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and he was interested,” and he says: “I didn’ know dey was so many un um. I hain’t hearn ’bout none un um, skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat’s in a pack er kards. How much do a king git?”

“Get?” I says; “why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want it; they can have just as much as they want; everything belongs to them.”

Ain’t that gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?”
They don’t do nothing! Why, how you talk! They just set around.”

It is in the course of their personal conversations that Huck comes to realize how much he and Jim have in common, and how he has come to consider Jim a friend. While society’s conscience is telling Huck to write a letter revealing Jim’s whereabouts, his personal conscience tells him to tear up that letter…

“It was a close place. I took it up and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: ‘All right, then, I’ll go to hell’- and tore it up.”

How much good literature do we owe to the conversations of two characters? How many of our own life changing decisions do we owe to such personal conversations?

I’ll close here with resolve to pick up the phone, and invite a friend over tomorrow for lunch…

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