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.