I go to Sake Sushi‘s Happy Hour and strike up a conversation with a stranger. We look to be the same age. Turns out it’s his birthday. “Well, happy birthday!” I say. “How old?”
“A lot older than you,” he says. “I don’t think so,” I reply and ask “How old?” “Seventy-two,” he says. “Gotcha by four years,” say I. “I thought you were maybe 65,” he says. I love this guy! So began last night’s friendly conversation that took us outside our respective comfort zones.
We live in bubbles that burst even while celebrating a birthday — separate bubbles that collide when CNN is served with drinks on the big TV screen in front of the sushi bar.
“Fake news,” he says. “Just a pack o’ lies.” I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well. “So where do get your news?” “I don’t pay much attention to politics,” he says. “As long as the economy is good. That’s all I care about. Business is booming. I’ve made a lot of money the last two years.”
What little news he gets is from a different bubble from the one I live in. “We’re in big trouble,” I say. “What you’re calling an economy is not an economy; economics is not measured by the stock market. There is only one economy — the planet and everything in it — and it’s not doing well. It’s only a matter of time.”
“Where do you get your news?” he asks. I answer that I get it from as many sources as I can. “Ever watch FOX News?” “Every once in a while. As little as possible,” I say, and now we’re both out of our bubbles that make us both “Bubble Boys”. The conversation turns to the occupant of the Oval Office he credits with the booming economy. “He’s going down,” I say. He laughs. ‘No way,” he says, and changes the subject to Barack Obama as a failed president. “He almost destroyed the military,” he says. “Obama made us weaker. Trump inherited a mess. He’s turned it around. America’s strong again.” He’s ex-military, a former Marine once stationed for eight year in Okinawa.
I call his attention to the number of Generals who have left the Trump Administration. He knows nothing about that. I mention General Mattis. “Mad Dog? Great General! The best!” he says. “What about him?” I ask whether he’s read Secretary of Defense Mattis’ letter of resignation. He hasn’t. He has no knowledge of Mattis’ disagreement with the president’s policies. I urge him to read it. He says he will.
The wait person brings a large paper sack with a take-out order of his favorite Japanese dish. “It’s not on the menu,” he says. “Just ask for ‘Dynamite’. I guarantee you’re gonna love it!” “So it’s the ‘Dynamite Roll’?” I ask. “No, it’s different. You have to ask for it.” “So, if I ask for ‘Dynamite’, will they know what I’m talking about?” “The American girl won’t. Ask one of the Japanese guys. They’ll know. Get some and take it home. I guarantee you’re gonna love it!”
The mere thought of Dynamite puts us in the same bubble. We’re Bubble Boys in one bubble: the global economy of shared taste buds. As he rises to leave for home, I thank him for his Dynamite recommendation and the conversation, shake his hand, and wish him a Dynamite 72nd Birthday.
Next time I wander over to the bar at Sake Sushi, I’ll ask for Dynamite . . . and two Martinis.
— Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, February 1, 2019.
It really IS ignorance. How could he NOT know that Mattis resigned? Because he doesn’t want to know. We are living in a world so distressing that we don’t want to know anything that will make it even a little bit worse.
Marilyn, the adage “ignorance is bliss” comes close, but it’s NOT bliss. Your observation, as usual, is spot on. Willful ignorance creates its own cocoon that reduces the stress, anxiety, and fear, and creates its own substitute for bliss.
He really did not know of Mattis’s resignation and seemed ignorant of most of what would burst the bubble. “I don’t care about politics,” he said. “The economy is great. I’ve made a lot of money these past two years. As long as the economy is good, I don’t care.” That may not be his words precisely, but they capture the spirit. He knew that the president is a little over the top but is willing to put aside all issues of character.
Amazing how well propaganda works! And how well the calm acceptance of the other’s humanity and good intentions. Thanks.
It does work, Mona. So does class privilege.