There was a time when we were intellectuals to be reckoned with… my brother, sister-in-law, husband and I would sit around the dining table discussing politics, social change and the benefits and disadvantages of living under a wholly capitalist cultural hegemony.
I finally realized that we are just not those people anymore.
Now, if an issue is not related to food going in a kid’s mouth or poop coming out of its butt, we can’t seem to approach it with any degree of intellectual credibility.
This following conversation seriously drove it home for me last week:
Me: ChompChompSnerrfle, you know, honey, this hummus you made for the party is really good. ChompChomp, you’re really good at making hummus… you’re like a hummus ambassador because I know, like, three ChompChomp people who didn’t even like hummus before they had your hummus.
My Brother: What are you talking about? Who doesn’t like hummus?
Tariq: No, she’s right, I’ve had several people tell me that they really like the hummus I make even though they didn’t like hummus before.
My Brother: Not liking hummus is xenophobic.
Me: Are you serious? What, so if a person doesn’t like hummus that means they hate Arabs and Greeks?
My Brother: Pretty much.
Me: You can’t be serious. So, if I don’t like pizza, that means I hate Italians?
(For the record, I love pizza. Too much, really.)
My Brother: I’m totally serious…. the pizza thing doesn’t work because pizza isn’t culturally specific anymore. Look, it’s like peanut butter and jelly. If you don’t like peanut butter and jelly, you’re a communist.
Me: Oh, COME ON…
(And then my husband opens his mouth to say something I think is going to be reasonable, but says this instead…)
Tariq: Hey… you know, when India was heavily influenced by communism… we didn’t have peanut butter and jelly. And that’s when I lived there, and I still don’t really like peanut butter and jelly very much. I think he has a point.
Me: Hating peanut butter and jelly does NOT make you a communist. And hating hummus doesn’t mean you hate Arabs.
My Brother: Look, okay, let’s just say this… people who hate hummus do not necessarily hate Arabs, but people who hate Arabs definitely hate hummus.
Me: I, um… uh… okay.
(Holy crap. This argument is actually starting to make sense to me.)
At this point, my sister-in-law walks in from spending nearly an hour trying to get their baby to sleep.
Me and My Brother: (in a tone that sounds eerily like, “Maaawaam, s/heee won’t give me the reeemote!!) ARE PEOPLE WHO HATE HUMMUS XENOPHOBIC?!!!
My sister in law: (indignant) What? No, that’s silly. (Reflective silence) There’s hummus? Nobody said we had hummus. ChompChompSnerrfle. Wow, this is, like, really good hummus.
And that, my friends, was a perfectly true, totally exact retelling of our dinner conversation.