During the first two days of the holiday of Passover, my family was invited to a lunch at a friend’s home where we have been numerous times — the family positively loves Chaim. We have been going there so long that we have gone from being the ones who are invited to being the parents of the actual person who everyone wants to see. After everyone eventually got settled around the table, there was a latecomer to the meal, someone whom we had seen before, and though he did not seem to recognize us we immediately recognized him.

The last time we had seen him was several months earlier during the run-up to the election. There was a heated discussion at the very same home, the gist of which was that anybody that was considering voting for Barack Obama was clearly an idiot that did not know anything about anything. I said that the statement was a bit strong to be making in a room full of people whom he did not all know that well — how did he know that none of us were thinking about voting for Obama? Someone asked me whom I wanted to win the election and I said that I had not yet formed a decision but that it would be carefully weighed.

I think that this individual took this to mean that I was an Obama supporter and while he was correct, it was none of his business and it should have had no impact on our ability to have intelligent conversation. Unfortunately, that is exactly what did not happen — he did not engage with me in any conversation after that.

At the meal this week, he mentioned something about quinoa and how every time people ate it, it destroyed a Peruvian’s life because we (the United States) are importing so much that it made it impossible to keep the natives properly nourished. I argued that it was slowly starting to be grown in the United States and that it was just a matter of time, probably within five years or so, that the economics of the matter would start to catch up and it would not be logical to import so much from such a distance when it would be far cheaper to grow it natively. We made eye contact and he suddenly was crestfallen and silent. He now knew who we were and how he knew us.

For the rest of the meal he said nothing and stared angrily at his meat, eventually asking for more and more. At one point he took a long walk and came back at the end of the meal, while we were getting ready to leave. It was by far one of the most awkward bits of silence we had ever felt. It made me think that it is impossible to ever have any sort of meaningful conversation about the issues affecting us every day if we freeze up and get up for a long walk every time we recognize logical arguments on their way.

12 Comments

    1. If this guy had tried telling me that, I would have just laughed and walked away. I call him baby Sean Hannity. Everything he said was just puff without substance.

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  1. Maybe it was or is was what we call a sanity break – you know you are angry – for whatever reason – and decide to leave the scene of the crime so as not to make an idiot of yourself

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  2. I do hope that your meal was not ruined. Regardless of what side of the political spectrum one is on, I believe it is important that we agree to disagree. Said recommendation, of course, comes from one who was also attacked last summer by a friend of 34 years. Calling me “a damned fool” for my choice of candidate from this individual cut deep, deep enough for me not to take her calls for a month.

    That being said, we worked it out but it hurt to have to go there.

    Hopefully, that individual will “get over it.”

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  3. When it comes to tension and fighting, nothing brings it on quite like a holiday dinner, for whatever reason. At least his storming out makes me think he realized his mistake, but was too stubborn to admit it– a trait in many of my family members!

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  4. I’m glad this wasn’t during the Seder itself.
    How uncomfortable would that be?

    I had a similar situation happen to me last week at work.
    A particularly cantankerous customer (that I frequently dealt with at my previous employer) decided to ‘end run’ my previous employer and ‘go straight to the source’ i.e. my current employer. What he didn’t realize includes:
    a) My current employer doesn’t sell to the end user, only to resale outfits (jobbers)
    b) I had moved from the Jobber I was at for 16yrs to here and was well familiar with his tactics.

    My name, experience, and previous employer’s name was mentioned by my co-worker to him, and I could see ‘the lights of recognition come on’. Within 5min he left the premises, preferably not to be heard from again.

    I told my boss: “I LOVE working in a wholesale establishment, it takes so much complication away from the process!” He responded with a smile.

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