January 23rd, 2017


LJ Idol Season Ten: "No Thanks!"

No Thanks!
idol season ten | week 6| 813 words
Heel Turn


Back when I lived in the city, I had these friends with bizarre ideas of what constituted good food and entertainment. Some of them were aiming for so-phis-ti-ca-tion, and others thought of themselves as being refined. Either way, they were all buying into aesthetics that made no sense.

I have never heard the word bourgeois used so many times to refer to so many things as by this crowd. You could seriously believe it was nearly the only word they knew.

I know they had their opinions about me, too—"spoilsport" probably figured heavily. It didn't start out that way. I worked hard to be patient and try new things, but I guess they eventually wore me down.

Now, if I say caviar is nasty, that's not news to anyone, right? That is some salty, oily, fishy, weird-ass stuff, I don't care how much it costs. If somebody came to you and said, hey, let's slice open a pregnant fish and eat what falls out, you'd say, "Are you nuts? That's disgusting!" And you'd be right.

But other stuff isn't gross so much as not worth eating. I'm talking tiny food, where you could eat an entire meal and not be sure it really happened. Except for the dent in your wallet. Or sandwiches that are 90% sprouts, and mostly taste like crunchy dirt. Don't even get me started on things like tofurkey.

I finally got wise to my friends and their food issues, and I usually just met up with them after they'd eaten. Every once in a while, we'd go out for beer and burgers, and have a great time. But sometimes they'd convince me some new place was totally mainstream, and we'd get there and I'd catch a glimpse of the menu... Boom. I was outta there.

Even with the food thing out of the way, a lot of what they liked to do seemed to involve weirdness for weirdness' sake. Once, Ted wanted us all to go to this new play at some out-of-the-way theater in the warehouse district. The "play" turned out to be performance art—with kitchenware and screaming. I didn't even wait for intermission, I just bolted and took a taxi home.

All of us liked movies, so we went to see Star Wars together, which was fun. Occasionally, though, the movie would be some subtitled arty thing with people wearing masks and talking to the camera. I learned to make sure the movie was American and in color before I agreed to go. Not that I had anything against Casablanca or classic Hitchcock, which I totally would have seen. But the nexus of European and black-and-white in cinema is pretty much unwatchable.

We went to art galleries, and saw Rembrandt and Monet. We went to other art galleries, featuring exhibits of grouped geometric shapes or paintings that look like a toddler barfed up a hot dog. If I was lucky, I'd recognize where things were headed before I'd paid for admission. If not, I'd try to suck it up and learn something, but usually I'd reach a point where I just bailed and went to get a sandwich.

After a few years of that, I didn't see most of those friends quite as often. I was happy to meet them for lunch or coffee pretty much anytime, and for any restaurants or other outings where I knew what to expect. Every once in a while we'd try something new. Sometimes it was okay, but mostly my friends would lure me into something with the promise that it wouldn't be weird this time, which was a lie because it generally was.

I have a normal life in the suburbs now, with a wife and 1.9 kids (because I swear, at least 5% of both kids is dirt). We eat at family restaurants and do all the usual things. But sometimes, I'm afraid that kneejerk need to escape is going to rear up again, and I'll wind up doing something unforgiveable.

I've been to baby-swim classes at the YMCA, and survived that. I've done kids' parties where the kids end up wearing half the cake, and I've listened to other dads drone on about baseball until I've got pitching stats coming out my ears. Fine, whatever—I can handle that.

But one of these days my wife will be out of town, and then what? I'll be stuck chaperoning the kids to some social event that just might be the one that pushes me over the edge. Maybe it'll be a Disney movie, or a school carnival, or the rumored Hell that is a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. Whatever it is, I'm afraid I'll just step inside with the kids, take a look at the screaming and chaos, and it'll hit me, my kids' tears and heartbreak be damned:


Yeah. I'll be outta there.


If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.