the opposite game
Saturday, August 9 2014
This afternoon I drove out to 9W to get some provisions from the liquor store, the Home Depot, and the ShopRite. I needed gin & rye whiskey, two power strips, a gallon of white primer, two pieces of pressure-treated two by fours, galvanized carriage bolts and a lag bolt, and the usual beans & beer that I buy at grocery stores. In the summer it's always hard to find a shady place to park near the ShopRite (I'd brought the dogs), but today I found one out a couple hundred feet to the west near the Sonic Burger, where there is a small tree far enough from the store for people to not park under it. Still, shady trees in that environment are much sought-after no matter where they are, and when I returned to my car, I saw another car, even rattier than mine, crammed into the shade close against mine. A young woman sat in it, talking on her cellphone. I noticed that her front bumper had been fixed after some accident with an enormous amount of duct tape.
This evening I went by myself (that is, with no dogs and no Gretchen) to a small dinner party hosted by Eva and Sandor at their place out on Maverick Road. I brought a sixer of good beer, though beer was not something they were wanting for. Indeed, they had too much of everything. There was guy there named Brett who had made his own beer with a lot of cardemom in it. He and his wife were a little bashful about its quality, but I thought it was good, and (with the exception of some margarita I accidentally poured myself when seeking a non-alcoholic spacer) it was the only beverage I drank.
The crowd there tonight was a very vegan one, and at some point they started talking about a recent scandal in the vegan community that I knew nothing about. I'm philisophically vegan, and I live a vegan lifestyle, but I'm not especially interested in veganism. So when it comes up in conversation, there's a part of me that reverts to the bombthrower I was back in Harkness, when do-gooder liberals used to make me want to scream. I've matured since then and can keep a lid on it to the point where nobody suspects I'm anything but one of the "us" in the great us-vs-them struggle. But inside, my eyes were rolling and I was wishing I was hanging out with people with more interesting obsessions. Of particular note was a recent scandal regarding the spicy blackened green beans on the menu at New World Home Cooking. Jim V.A., a local vegan activist who has mercifully not been a part of my life in at least eight years, recently made a name for himself in the vegan world by exposing the fact that those supposedly-vegan green beans actually contain Worcestershire sauce, which is known to contain anchovies. Everybody at the party (with the possible exception of Eva and Sandor) were all worked up about this revelation, and someone (perhaps somewhat jokingly) suggested we should picket New World Home Cooking. To me, it was all a huge absurdity; I'm not the kind of vegan who gets worked up about trace amounts of animal products. In an effort to laugh it all off, I suggested that instead of calling it "green bean gate" we call it "green beanghazi." That was immediate hit, and the conversation soon moved to more promising subject matter.
Later we played a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, a sort of gamified Mad Libs, where the goal is to impress a judge (one of the players, selected in a serial rotating fashion) with the selection of one or two phrases from cards held in the hand to replace a blank in a phrase read by the judge. Cards Against Humanity is designed for people like us, with a lot of irreverent possibilities sprinkled through every deck. After a few rounds, I was the only person who had yet to impress a judge, so I switched to playing in such a way that judges would never select my submissions (in effect, I was playing the opposite game from the one being played by the others). In so doing, I managed to avoid ever being picked, something that became increasingly fun as the evening wore on and it was declared that we would quit as soon as someone picked one of my selections. But mine were always so lame that they were never picked. After a certain point, though, judges (in hopes of picking my selection) started going for the lamest option, but by then I'd switched to offering moderately-good (but not too good) choices. I left the party without any of my cards being selected by a judge.
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