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23 January 2017 @ 11:23 am
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.

i_17bingo: toileti_17bingo on January 23rd, 2017 11:22 pm (UTC)
I find new, not average things frightening, and I try to avoid them, but I remember sushi, and I'm suddenly curious.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 23rd, 2017 11:34 pm (UTC)
A lot of this draws on friends from college, even though it's fictional overall.

Sushi absolutely frightens me-- but in California, it all tends to be sashimi (raw fish), which I will not eat. Thai food was a glorious discovery, and I liked most of the 'arty' movies one friend constantly dragged me to (Bergman was everything to her).

But overall, new tends to be kind of alarming to me too, which is a reason in itself to force trying it once in awhile!
cindytsuki_no_bara on January 24th, 2017 03:58 am (UTC)
it's interesting that the narrator as a younger person is turned off by the unusual and weird, but as a more grown-up person he's worried he'll be turned off by the totally mundane. he's right about the caviar, tho. too fishy and salty.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 24th, 2017 06:27 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought of it that way. Certainly, you fear boredom in any setting, including being stuck making conversation when you just want to l.e.a.v.e.

But as a parent, one of the things that can really get to you is mayhem. Kids screaming and running around, mess everywhere. It's less aesthetic chaos maybe and more physical chaos!

Really, even when your own kids are well-behaved, that does nothing to prepare you for those who aren't... and surround you in quantity. :O
adoptedwriter: pic#102963215adoptedwriter on January 24th, 2017 02:11 pm (UTC)

Caviar looks good and tastes so gross. Talk about a culinary heel turn.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 24th, 2017 06:29 pm (UTC)
I think the scene in "Big," where Tom Hanks tries caviar for the first time, is a fantastic depiction of the reality of caviar for those who haven't bought into the "sophisticated" and "gourmet" aspects of it. SO gross.
(no subject) - uselesstinrelic on January 27th, 2017 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on January 28th, 2017 05:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
penpusher: Food Networkpenpusher on January 25th, 2017 04:33 am (UTC)
Hilarious! I chuckled my way through the whole thing. Although I don't eat caviar with any regularity, I always find it to be pretty good! Then again, I don't mind Vegemite, which is rather salty too, so maybe I have a propensity for that type of spread.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2017 07:44 am (UTC)
I like salt, but I'm not fond of the overly salty things like capers and anchovies and such. The combination of salty/oily/fishy, though... ick. I know some people truly like caviar, but I will never be one of them.

Thanks so much for reading!
m_malcontentm_malcontent on January 25th, 2017 08:14 pm (UTC)
I occasionally like a restaurant that serves aioli (expensive for mayo) or haricot verts (French and expensive for green beans).

Mostly I prefer a good Philly Sandwich or Pork Chops
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 25th, 2017 08:44 pm (UTC)
I have been known to really enjoy tiny food myself, and aioli. But I've also seen menu offerings at such places that are more inspired by a color palette than by how the results taste, or the one memorable fennel ravioli with salmon, where I forgot that fennel is basically licorice. And with salmon. What an awful idea!
favoritebeanfavoritebean on January 26th, 2017 08:22 am (UTC)
Aww, I love tofurky. Mostly because it doesn't taste like meat, and I'm a vegetarian.

I've had that instinct to flee before too.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 12:22 am (UTC)
I sort of think that if you don't want to make tofurkey taste like meat, it probably should be called something else!

The worst urge to flee I've had was probably a recorder concert that was 90 minutes long, with what seemed to be about 6-7 songs repeated over and over with various soloists. I had to get up to use the bathroom at some point, and stayed gone for longer than necessary... :O
rayasorayaso on January 26th, 2017 02:23 pm (UTC)
This was hilarious! It was a wonderful comic rant, with many great lines. I especially loved the 1.9 kids/5% dirt, although I think there is more dirt than that! Your targets were so much fun; I bet you had a great time writing this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 12:26 am (UTC)
It was a lot of fun to write, and some of it not entirely fictional. My collection of Nina Hagen albums came from some of that influence, though I no longer regularly spend time with people whose mission is to deliberately be outrageous and attention-getting.

Except for our son. ;)
bleodsweanbleodswean on January 26th, 2017 10:17 pm (UTC)
You've got such a quick and witty mind, K. I love it when you interject snappy and quirky and punny lines into your narrators' mouths! I was willing to try anything when I was younger...and once I was older I struggled with the sense that I had to see something to the end...lest I bring on my own misfortune. I envy the ability to just turn on heel and disappear!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 12:33 am (UTC)
When I was younger, I tried a lot of things that didn't sound immediately appealing, and generally stuck them out even if I didn't like them. I'm less patient than that now, and probably more impervious to people telling me, "But this [insert bizarre thing here] is something you need to know." In college, you're so often a walking ball of self-doubt, and fortunately that fades as you get older.
dmousey: mousedmousey on January 27th, 2017 05:33 am (UTC)
Being a Philly chick, I can envision these characters. I'm a staunch homebody now, but I was a rocker chick, our version of this was clubs and bands.

I liked this piece as I enjoy all your writes. Hugs and peace.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 06:11 pm (UTC)
None of this probably seems strange if you're part of the crowd that is into all of it! From a semi-outsider's POV, it always seems a little more extreme than the insiders realize. :D

Thanks for reading!
Teo Sayseternal_ot on January 27th, 2017 08:39 am (UTC)
Haha. This was FUNtastic and Hilarious.Lot of favorite lines here. The tiny food which causes dent in the pocket, kids with 5% dirt,art which looks like a kid's barf. Too good. Enjoyed this! Thank you :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 06:18 pm (UTC)
So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you. :D
Murielle: Scrunchedmurielle on January 27th, 2017 01:04 pm (UTC)
I was always the one in the family to want to try "something different." Didn't work. My tastes are different from my family's and my friends. I have learned to enjoy those pursuits on my own.

I love this story! Excellent take on the prompt, and a wonderful insight on the fears of a young father. Brava!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 06:21 pm (UTC)
Our daughter always wanted to try something different-- unless it was food, in which case even 'typical' food was often scary. Her tastes are a little different, kind of in the inverse way. She would have loved to go to France, as a teenager, "But not to go to museums or look at buildings." o_O

Her interest is people-watching. Which you can do without traveling nearly so far. OTOH, the rest of the family's rabid interest in things like science and air+space museums? Nope. She does not have that burning curiosity to Know All The Things. And I can't really explain why the rest of us do!
Jenmy_name_is_jenn on January 27th, 2017 02:58 pm (UTC)
Caviar is gross. Actually, I can't say that for sure as I've never tried it. But fish eggs? Seriously? Ew.

I'm usually open to trying new foods, but those overly salty ones I won't do. And I've noticed a lot of food trends tend to be, "Well, nobody's done it before, so I thought I'd give it a try!" and I'm not so much into new just for the sake of new.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 06:22 pm (UTC)
Uncooked meat/eggs are an absolute "no" for me, as well as things that are weird just to be weird.

I think of Michael Meyers' joke that Scottish cuisine is "Food based on a dare," and that would seem to apply to a lot of other foods, too!
magazhchimagazhchi on January 27th, 2017 07:02 pm (UTC)

LOL This was amazing and a fun read. I know certain people who are like the ones the narrator describes.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
I knew several of them in my college years, though since then I've met people who may have differing tastes than mine, but don't make quite such an effort to be aggressively strange. :)
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on January 27th, 2017 07:56 pm (UTC)
Hee, very amusing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 10:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
n3m3sis43n3m3sis43 on January 27th, 2017 10:04 pm (UTC)
I really, really liked the voice in this piece. The narrator was very relatable. Who hasn't wanted to bolt when things get weird? Or maybe that's just me, because I've always kept my eye on the escape hatch.

Also, caviar is nasty. xD
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on January 27th, 2017 10:37 pm (UTC)
Or maybe that's just me, because I've always kept my eye on the escape hatch.
Me too-- maybe because of a lifetime of being an introvert where forced social settings sometimes become a bit much?

But I do find it kind of strange that I do that, even at a subconscious level!