Friday, July 31, 2009

Observations from Winnie

This is another post starting out to be about the radio, but this time (hooray!) it's not a rant against idiots.



It started out simply enough. The DJ was telling the news, and he was talking about organic food. Apparently there is new research to suggest that organic foods are actually not superior to non-organic food, despite it's superior costs and the superior attitudes of its consumers.* The DJ said something like, "The people who eat organic food think it makes them better."

*Wait for it . . . wait for it . . . this is going to link up later on. It's the first part.

It brought me back to a conversation I had with Danny the other day, and I thought it was really interesting. I'd like to write about it, but I'm a little stuck. I'm stuck because Danny and I can talk about anything, without regard to how our words will be perceived (you know, perhaps you might blurt something out that comes off prejudiced but you didn't really mean it that way?).

Well, "it's all good" between Danny and me . . . we don't worry about getting trapped by our words; we just spit it out as it comes into our heads. Git 'er dun! So I am going to consider re-capturing this particular conversation a writing challenge, because neither of us were being mean (per se) or judgemental (per se), but it totally would have come off that way in the car. And I don't want to sound like I'm being mean or judgemental . . . we were just talking.

Setting the scene first: it was a busy morning. We had a bunch of errands to do ("running" as some might say), and we planned to try out a new restaurant for breakfast when we were done with our runs.

Er, not diarrhea, that is. Just our errands. Anyhoo.

We trucked out to Elyria to go to the pool shop to get poison for our green pool, it wasn't open yet so we went to the bank first and then went back to the pool shop. We did something else too, but it's escaping me now.

By the time we were done with our tasks, it was getting on time for lunch, and since we hadn't had our breakfast yet, we were both starved. The restaurant we planned to go to was one we'd heard about at our Historical Society meeting (yes, we're nerds and we belong to our township's historical society--it's fun!). A person had come in to give a presentation, and he talked about this restaurant that his best-friend's-sister's-brother's-boyfriend's-dog walker's-hairdresser co-owns. Whatever, some kind of long drawn out string. He was really plugging the restaurant because of the linkage, and talked about what a great experience it was to go there. Since it's right in town, Danny and I thought we'd give it a try.

I should have been wary from the beginning, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.*

*That's another link-up for later on.

We pulled up to the restaurant, right on Main Street, and as soon as I saw it from the outside, I started getting a bad feeling. This was not going to be my scene, I could already tell. But I didn't say anything, put my brave face on, and in we went.

I took one look around and my suspicions were confirmed. This was not going to be good. Danny could tell by my face, but he was still game, we were both so hungry, so I figured there must be something on the menu that I'd eat. (Note, I didn't say enjoy). We sat down.

The menu was a single sheet of paper that looked like it was taken to Kinko's (or wherever; we don't have Kinko's around here). Turns out it was taken to a copy store because they print it up every week with different menu items.


Not good in my world.

The problem is, I have a very plain palate. Food is not an adventure. It's a necessity. Stick with what works. Why branch out and possibly be disgusted when you can order something you know you'll like? Trying something new is not worth the risk of going hungry, or pissing off your waitress by sending back your food, or paying for two meals and only eating one.

If you were as crippled by your pickiness as I am, then you'd understand.

I frantically looked over the menu for anything that sounded appealing. Not much. I finally decided I could get the eggs and bacon (generic enough) with the Yukon golds. Those are just potatoes, right? Right.

We each ordered beverages with our meals, and when I got my Chai Tea, there was a BUG floating in it. Just a little one, the kind my dad says "won't eat much," but I didn't care. It was still a bug in my drink, and the food was yet to come.

So much for not pissing off the waitress by sending something back.

I was ready to leave at this point, but that was just too rude, so I sucked it up. I didn't even say anything to Dan (not that it matters; a blind person could read my facial expressions).

The food came out, and it was not my cup of tea. I was already grossed out by the bug, not in the mood to be forgiving, and the Yukon gold potatoes turned out to be horrible. They basically halved the order of potatoes and made up the difference with big cloves of garlic, smashed and still in the paper. That ain't right in my book! I tried a couple, but the garlic was too overwhelming and didn't mesh with the other seasonings, so I couldn't finish them. Basically I had two eggs and a few slices of bacon for breakfast/lunch.

Dan enjoyed his pancake, and finished off my Yukons, but his boat wasn't really floating either, and we decided that we wouldn't go back. We are just plain ol' Quick and Delicious type of folk. Quick and Delicious is a family-run, homestyle restaurant, also right in town.

(Fanfare!) The point of all this! (Cue: trumpets)

We talked about it in the car as we drove home, and I told Dan that I knew it wasn't "me" as soon as we walked in the door. Not because I smelled garlic (I didn't). Not because there were bugs flying around (there weren't). And not because there was dirt on the floor (there wasn't). Nope. It was because of the clientele.

Really, you can tell by the people? Dan asked.

Abso-friggin-lutely. Not always, but most certainly in this case. I hinted at it before with my trendy comment. And my "I should have known" comment about the guy that presented at our historical society meeting--he has the same look as what I'm going to attempt to describe without sounding like a brat.

The folks that were sitting there enjoying their meals were all the same, like a giant had cut them all from the same roll of dough.

Dan was fascinated.

At first I likened them to Birkenstock folks, but that isn't quite right. I tried to explain to Dan that they had an aura around them, and my aura is the polar opposite. Walking into the restaurant, I was able to make an observation and a judgement. An observation on the appearance of the clientele, which then made me pass judgement on the restaurant, but did not (I hope) come off that I was being judgemental about the people. They do, after all, put their khaki shorts on one leg at a time.

As soon as we walked in, I could see polo shirts and smell garlic and a faint hint of granola and other organic foods (there's your link-up to the beginning of the post when I was talking about the radio), coupled with the stench of metro-sexuality.

That's not right. It's not metro-sexuality, it's metro-trendy. Non-conformist kids that band together in old brick apartments in downtown (east side) Portland and go to Powell's to hang out (not Borders) and eat gourmet food at bistros (not Ruby from McMenamins) and go grocery shopping at Whole Foods (not Fred Meyer). What am I trying to say? I couldn't put my finger on it any better when I was talking to Dan--and now I'm using a lot of Oregon references, which is completely unhelpful to anyone in Ohio (or, er . . . anyone that is not in Oregon, I should say). The guys have tribal tattoos on the calf of their legs, the girls don't wear makeup. They go to concerts of bands no one has ever heard of . . . they look outdoorsey and eat organically, but never spend time outside (unless the bistro has outdoor seating). They would positively die if they went on a trail ride with me.

Dan, who happened to be wearing khaki shorts, skipped over my lack of ability to describe the auras of the people in the restaurant, and asked if he had the same aura as they did. Number One, we wouldn't be married if he did, but Number Two: absolutely not.

They (not being to sound like "them and us" but rather just talking about those specific people we had just seen in that restaurant) have a snobbiness about them. Their aura has a snobbiness, I mean.

It's a non-conformity thing, like they are better than all of us Fred Meyer people (there's the organic-superior-attitude thing again!). Don't know what a Fred Meyer is? It's pretty important to get this reference, so let me see. Fred Meyer is a big conglomerate One Stop Shopping store in Oregon, similar yet vastly different than a Wal-Mart. Different mainly because the products aren't so shitty. Imagine a Target with a really good grocery section. That's what a Fred Meyer. They have everything. Target has everything BUT groceries.

Anyway, the auras I'm trying to describe would be anti-Fred Meyer (if we had one here), because they like non-mass-produced products (unless they're organic and mass-produced). Alternative'y peeps that look down their noses at Fred Meyer, hang posters of Marilyn Monroe and wear ugly, brown plaid jackets. They talk about politics and art and use big words and eat sushi and always know what's going on in the world, but they don't know who Eddie Izzard is. They would never come to a bonfire at our house, or think it's funny to go skinny dipping in Lake Erie. They don't watch Friends because they don't think it was and still is The Greatest Show Ever. They think my constant Friends references are annoying and stupid. They don't appreciate old reruns of Roseanne. They watch CNN. They couldn't tell you who Bob Ross is, or comprehend why he would say that "happy little clouds live here."

So what aura do I have? asked Danny.

I looked at him, with his sunglasses and khakis, and without hesitation told him, You've got frat-boy aura. You're a go with the flow, nice boy.

Really? He looked doubtful, but not ready to disagree with my expertise.

Yes, certainly. You're nice, you get along with everyone, you are easygoing, sometimes you have not very bright ideas for what to do with your spare time. Remember when you and Max were setting off the fireworks on the 4th of July? You're very frat boy-ish, my love.

He still seemed dubious, so I continued. You act a little snobby sometimes, but it's not the same at all. You only do it when other people can't hear. And actually it's not snobbiness at all, it's a know-it-all attitude that you don't let anyone else see (except me). You would do it this way, not that way (that way is dumb, this way is smart). But never in the world would you look down on another person. Not even in front of me because you don't think that way. You don't think you're better than anyone else. It's just their actions and what some people say that you think is stupid, but they're still just people like you and me. You don't think you're better, you do think you're smarter sometimes.

Huh, he said. That's true.

I just think it's interesting, the different auras that people have, and how some go together and some don't. Just like some foods do or don't go together, some people do or don't mesh. It's the very core of our personalities that don't mix. It has nothing to do with them as a person, whether or not they're smart or nice or animal lovers or Friends watchers. It has everything to do with our auras.

I'm not a walking talking Chinese Calendar, just so we're clear. I was born in the year of the Horse (and Earth is my element). I think I'm supposed to say Yin Earth Horse. (PS: Dan is year of the Dog, and supposedly this is what they say about Horses and Dogs together: "Very happy and compatible union. Success and prosperity in love and partnership. Deep understanding and affinity for one another." It's true!).

Anyway, I'm totally sounding like an astrology freak, of which I am not. I don't mean aura they way someone speaking astrologically means it. I think I just mean soul.

I do believe that for whatever reason, some people just don't get along. And I think it's because to each person there are some auras that just stink. We're not talking about BO here--let's be grown ups. But just like an unpleasant odor can cause you to have a strong reaction, I think unconsciously a person's essence can make you have a negative (or positive, I suppose) reaction.

And that's the way I am with the uppity organics that were in this restaurant, eating their garlic golds and sipping their coffee and talking about what they heard on NPR. It's totally silly, but here's the funny thing (and I can't tell if it's my imagination or not): when I went in, it smelled almost like I was walking into a Subway (which is very gross to me). I (thought?) could smell deli-lettuce.

I think it was the auras in the room that I could smell, whether you believe it was my imagination or not. Maybe it was my aura that recognized the pungent scent of deli-lettuce.

What's your aura? Danny wanted to know.

Surprised that he hadn't guessed, I answered, Why, it's Winnie Cooper.
Winnie Cooper: sheltered, good-clean-fun, goody-goody, Jordache jeans and banana seat bike with streamers on the handle bars. A valley girl. Childish as an adult, smart as a child. Teacher's pet, follows the rules.
Oh, yeah, he said. You're completely right.

*As a side-note from me, personally I think Winnie Cooper would have grown up into a Kelly Kapowski, which is completely inaccurate as far as my popularity at school went. Now I can claim Kelly's personality, but certainly not in junior high, or even high school. I had a whole Ugly Betty phase to go through to get where I am today. And although I'm picking actresses that are similar in appearance to me, in that we're all brunette Caucasians, don't take that to mean that I think I especially look like any of them. I'm likening my personality to their personalities, up to and including Kelly Kapowski.


Julie said...

Birkinstock Folk/Patchouli Hippies?? At least that's what I call them Patchouli Hippies, I was friends with a few for a time and it was impossible to hang around with them or hug them without smelling like Patchouli the rest of the day (even after you shower) was it Java Zone??? I'm going to guess till I get it right. It sounds very Java Zone-ish. At any rate I am sorry that your experience was less then fantastic.

Kate said...

No, it wasn't Java Zone . . . do you really want to keep guessing? I suppose there aren't that many options, are there?

I couldn't pick the scent of Patchouli out, but again you're exactly spot on! And "hippie" is correct, but I realized that I am very old-school when it comes to my usage of the word "hippie." To me, a hippie is what's-her-face in Forrest Gump (Robin Wright Penn?). But there are more newfangled hippies now that don't wear long, loose skirts and headbands--instead they don't shave their pits or legs, and nurse their babies while walking down the street.

I guess that's not really what I meant in my post, but I think the peeps I was talking about (organic peeps, I called them) are ALSO hippies.

I think the problem is when I try to be too generic and too clever . . . I get too wrapped up in the description and don't actually remember what I'm describing.


Julie said...

The organic market in the parking lot over by the italian place??

Kate said...

Nope! It's actually a RESTAURANT.

Are you still having fun or is it just annoying now? Let me know if you want to keep guessing!

Julie said...

Hmmmm, Please don't tell me it's The Feve, I think I'd be sad if it were The Feve. Although I get it if that were the case they are insanly slow and slightly obnoxious in there. especially on a tuesday night after a riding lesson and all I want is some hummus to go (which by the way if you are into that kind of thing it's the best hummus around) and it takes... I don't know 20 minutes to plop some hummus into a container and wrap up some pita.

Kate said...

I'm sorry! It was The Feve.
It was just not my scene. The bug thing was just a coincidence, not supposed to be a reflection of the restaurant.

Kate said...

I'm sure it's great if it's actually your scene . . . everyone there seemed to be having a great time! I was the killjoy, and I'm self-admittedly weird about my eating habits.

Again, the bug was just bad luck.

Julie said...

It's OK I get it. I know people who have gotten a bug in their food and it was coincidence cause the resturant is really great but that got them off of that place forever. I was sort of tip toeing around the issue I was almost sure right from the begining that it was The Feve I just didn't want to say it. But I can see where you are coming from. Their service is insanly slow and most of the time you acutally have to go to the bar just to get menus. But again if I'm in the waiting kind of mood I'll go and get some hummus.

Kate said...

My post was really just supposed to be about people watching. I wasn't trying to be a Debbie Downer on The Feve.

Remember, this is all coming from the person whose favorite restaurant is Mexicali Express. I miss that about Oregon! If you're ever on the other side of the country, you have to go. Then you can get me back by telling me how much you hated it.

Except you won't . . . best burritos EVER!

Julie said...

I agree that is a good people watching spot.

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