Conversations between people in different lines of work can be difficult.

But conversations with distracted sports fans often defy explanation. Just ask a sports writer who is trying to change the subject.

Case in point:

A banker friend and I were having a wide-ranging discussion one day last week. It was wide-ranging because we were intent on discussing different things.

I was trying to find out about a potential loan. Sports writers often need loans.

The banker, who shall remain anonymous because he's a respected member of the community, wanted to talk about sports. The sports writer wanted to talk about banking. It was like a dumbed-down point-counterpoint.

Plus, the banker was fulfilling job description No. 1, which is to be generally jovial and just slightly evasive.

The conversation, taking only the slightest of liberties, went something like this:

Banker: "Is this the writer who had the column about a new book on the Cardinals in yesterday's paper?"

Me: "Yes and I'll have another column, reviewing another book about the Cardinals, later this week. But the reason I called you "

Banker: "Where did you get that book? The story said it wouldn't be available until mid-May."

Me: "It won't be available to the public until then. But it's been printed and is being distributed."

Banker: "So you have a copy of the book?"

Me: "Yes. That's how I was able to read it and write about it."

Banker: "So you still have this book?"

Me (sarcastically): "Yes and for the right interest rate, I might be willing to loan it out. (Trying to turn serious) And speaking of rates "

Banker: "I guess you saw that the bullpen lost another lead today."

Me (distracted/focused on the reason for my call and meaning loan rate) "So, what's the status today?"

Banker: "It's 5-5."

Me (in complete disbelief): "It's gone up that much in one day?!?"

Banker (obviously thinking I'm a complete idiot): "No! The Cardinals It's 5-5. The bullpen blew a 5-1 lead. I think it was (Steve) Kline."

Me: "(Whew!). OK, so where do we stand?"

Banker: Let's see (taking time, obviously at his computer, pausing as he calls up a Web site) (Jim) Edmonds homers in the 10th. Cardinals win 6-5!"

Me (a Pepsi drinker, imagining his victory dance around his Coca-Cola can collection): "Boy (name removed), I'm so glad I called you for all this information. Now, about "

Banker: "You say there's another book out on the Cardinals?"

Me (resigned by now): "Yes. And from what I've read so far, it's a great book, all about the 2002 season and everything the players went through. But, what can you tell me about "

Banker (allowing me to talk long enough to regain his focus): "(Name of realtor removed because he's a pro) said you had been looking at a house "

Me: "That's why I called."

Banker: "Well why didn't you say so? Let's see what we can do for you today!"

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