4.15.2007

Margaritas and Sushi

Last night I sat beside two men at a sushi bar, the ones who struck up conversation by asking how a margarita, which I was drinking, goes with sushi as opposed to the traditional sake or beer, and to whom I responded, “Well, I guess I’m always a bit of a rebel, but besides, it’s only vegetarian sushi, a veggie roll, so it’s kind of like having a margarita with a salad.”

These men next tried to draw me in with, “So, what do you think of Hillary for president?” And I told them that I refuse to talk about the presidential election at this point, that I’d rather these elected officials go do the current job they’ve been granted, that I could gather far more information about them by watching them perform as senators and civic leaders than by hearing them on the campaign trail. And besides, whoever has my attention at this point is completely irrelevant because eight months from now they could be long gone following a presidential race implosion.

So they got me to talk a little bit about the campaign, but my heart and head weren’t feeling political. I’d come for food and drink and the noise of the room.

The men started maligning assorted public figures as I sipped my margarita and dipped my not-tightly-enough-rolled sushi into soy sauce and wasabi, watching the rice and shredded carrots leak from the middle to create a textured landscape in my dish. I lightly continued my sideline participation in the conversation and eventually tossed out with a smile that I was certainly more liberal than they were, at which point they grabbed onto ‘liberal’ and told me what I believed, how I wanted to take their hard-fought-for money and hand it out to bums and partiers.

Despite the words, their tone was not aggressive and I took no personal offense, for from my perch on the counter-high stool I was relaxed listening to how others think. We were in communal drinks and sushi mode and I had no need to be right or understood. I uttered a few phrases that contained words like “not everyone starts on equal footing,” but I never let the softness leave my face for these men had come to their opinions long ago, as had I. I did say that if my neighbor is living better, I live better, that giving more isn’t a taking from me but a bettering of community. But I said little else. I didn’t discuss how far reaching ‘liberal’ goes for me because they set it in the corner with money and I didn’t uproot it to bring it to the table with justice.

Near the end of the trialogue when they suggested switching the conversation from politics to religion, which brought a huge smile to my face and the comment, “I don’t think we want to go to religion,” the man closest to me leaned back and spoke to the woman on my other side. She dismissed his question, “Are you a liberal?” with, “I’m a capitalist!” and they giggled together – really giggled – and I offered to switch seats since they seemed much better suited to each other as opposed to gentle dissenting me who was sliding into mentioning those who work very hard but may not be blessed with a mind best suited for navigating society’s complexities. I pointed out that I don’t take credit for the way my brain makes things easy for me, that I only take a little credit for what I do with that brain, but even then… I trailed off.

I didn’t go into my philosophy that I’m not certain I can take any credit for hard work because my brain is what pushes me to do what I do, and I was born with the brain I was born with. I did say, though, to the man who was certain that I wanted to take his money and give it to lazy partiers, that he may have a head for business while I know someone who works very hard but who has a head for art and music. When given a task he digs in, but forced to find his own way in a world of commerce he becomes a little immobilized, not from lack of desire but from being blessed with a different skill set. The sake drinker paused at that one. I saw a glimpse of new thought cross his face. His head even nodded a bit, though perhaps involuntarily.

I paid my bill, said good-bye to my accidental dinner companions, and walked out into the cool night air with a huge smile on my face. “I’ve grown,” I thought. “I didn’t need to strut my stuff or get stern and argumentative. I could simply allow that we would never see the world the same way.” I walked with a fresh understanding of how hard it is to get those with differing views to have the same conversation. I realized that maybe it’s okay to not even try to discuss the details, not when we’re all sitting firmly in our chair of belief. I didn’t make friends while dining, but I didn’t make enemies either. I wasn’t angry at their assertions about me, or their stances that I didn’t share. In talking to them, I simply saw ‘different’ sitting beside me. I understood that they feel they’ve earned what they have, and those who haven’t achieved as much don’t want it with the same will and determination. I don’t agree, but now I at least know what conversation lurks below the surface, and a night out gathering information and experience is always a blessing.

8 comments:

kristen said...

this made me all teary-eyed and while i'd like to blame hormones (which are surely a factor) it's mostly a teary eyed cheer for you my friend, in loving yourself and your beautiful brain and still being able to appreciate the beer when a margarita is your perfect beverage. xo

jen said...

is it wrong that this reminded me of your inanimate object conversations?

it probably is wrong. but still.

QT said...

Obviously, they wanted to banter with you on some level - you don't go from drink choices to politics and religion unless you find the person you are conversing with to be intelligent.

I have no doubts you left them with plenty to think about. Maybe even dragged them up to your level a bit?

littlepurplecow said...

The more I listen, the more open I become. It's refreshing to hear the other side (esp. with a margarita in hand).

Johnny C. said...

I have a head for being a lazy partier, but I haven't seen a dime of that money yet!

work in progress said...

That was a truly delightful post. I love that you found people with differing opinions who were capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation, lacking in anger and condescension. How refreshing. That's how people learn, by stimulating each other's minds.

fringes said...

One of those guys would have paid for my sushi and drinks. That's a small price to pay for good dinner conversation.

Emily said...

This was very refreshing...I felt last election I had trouble being this cool and calm. But this seems a better way. Something to work towards. :)