I know, a long time without a substantial update. I’m working ten-hour days, so when I DO have time…there’s not too much to say. Just work, work, and a dash more work. Today is not about that. Today is about the family I am living with, and lest I sound totally ungrateful, they are wonderful, beautiful people who have generously taken me in.
We just…don’t quite agree politically.
I’m sure you guys remember how I’m fiscally conservative, but fairly socially liberal, or at least moderate.
Well, let’s just get to the story.
Brian was flicking through his iPad as we enjoyed a sparse, continental breakfast, the four dogs scattered throughout the room, waiting for Hanna and Helle to take them on their morning walk. He chuckled to himself and said, “One of my conservative Constitutional friends sent me this-”
And if alarm bells didn’t go off in your head at that part of the sentence, they sure did in mine. What’s a Constitutional? A member of the very conservative Constitution Party, of course. What’s the Constitution Party?
…I’m just going to give you a link, k? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But there were groans across the table, so maybe it wouldn’t be too bad, right? Brian assured us, “No, no, this is actually funny!”
I’m not going to retell the joke here. I don’t need to. After two sentences, you’re going to know the entirety of the “joke” without unnecessary verb-age and abuse of nouns. The opening of the joke is about food stamps or, SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistants Program, and at the mention of it YET AGAIN in a political season, I rolled my eyes. This was like a Zebra showing its soft, white belly to a lion. It was a mistake. Helle noticed, because I didn’t bother to hide it, because SURELY no one could STILL be on this. Right? RIGHT?
“Emily’s rolling her eyes!” she said. Brian continued on. The rest of the joke was about the National Park Service asking you not to feed the animals. Why not? Wait for it – because they will grow dependent on the handouts.
Oh the raucous laughter.
It would have been far SMARTER to laugh. In retrospect…I’m glad I didn’t. As stupid as it is to even for a moment disagree in this far more conservative household – a household that is very kind and generous with me, and I certainly should not be maligning – I think looking back I would have been ashamed of myself. Living with another family certainly makes them compare them to your own, so I’m glad I didn’t laugh, because looking back, that is not how my also conservative father raised me. And I would not shame him like that.
So anyway, yeah, I didn’t laugh. It was noticed. I smiled, when it was obvious they found this “omg, SUPER funny!” I tried to sort of make it seem like I found it amusing. It…was not enough. I was the sore thumb, if the sore thumb were gangrenous and bright green. Just to clarify, I wasn’t going to be a fuddy duddy party pooper. I wasn’t going to launch into a rant on the plight of the poor or anything ridiculous like that. I was keeping my mouth SHUT.
This…was simply not a possible course of action.
Helle was the first one on me. “Emily, you didn’t think that was funny? You didn’t see the irony?”
“No, I did.”
“You didn’t get the joke?”
“No, I did! I…totally got the joke…”
“How can you not see the similarities?”
“Because,” I replied with a smile, a somewhat awkward, deer-caught-in-headlights smile, “I just think there’s a difference between a person and an animal.” I was quiet. I wasn’t making some bold, top of the hill statement. I was answering the question, and ready to move on. And I’d like to think I was the soul of politeness. I was certainly TRYING to be.
“You think it’s okay for four million people to accept this government handout?”
“Here’s what I’d like to say,” I replied, still smiling, DESPERATE to get out of this situation. Across from me, Hanna was tense – also eye rolling. Another political debate, fantastic. Hanna doesn’t particularly care that I disagree. I suppose from time to time he does, but he is so completely uninterested in debating politics since he’s inundated with it from his family constantly, his flight response was activated. “I’d like to say that I respectfully disagree with your opinion, but I understand why you have it, and I’d rather not get into a political argument at the breakfast table.” I finished up my leftover Thanksgiving roll, hoping that would be the end of it.
“Yeah, because you’d lose.”
I usually agree with Brian the least, but this visit we’ve been on the same wavelength, and he actually jumped in here. “It’s not about winning or losing-”
“Emily started this one, she was rolling her eyes.” She was a little playful, a little…not. I guess mainly not.
Hanna leaped up from the table, grabbing his tea; my cue it was okay to cut and run. “Oh my God, another political argument, goodbye.”
“No, I actually kind of am with her on this one-”
A little bit of raised voices, Helle was playfully nudging me and laughing. “You’ve ruined everything, Emily, I’m not talking to you anymore.”
An awkward smile, I dashed upstairs…to write this blog.
You wanna know my opinion on food stamps? I don’t really have one. But here’s what I think: it’s a small minority of the population that thinks, “Yes, free food!” If only from the people I’ve known on food stamps, the feeling is much more one of, “Thank God, I can feed my children this month.” Are their abuses? Yes. Put that yes in bold and red text if it makes you feel better, because there absolutely, positively, one hundred percent for sure ARE. But the increase in food stamps in the last four years is to be expected – not because of Obama. Because that’s what SNAP is designed to do – increase during hard economic times. It’ll contract when the economy is on the way up and people have jobs again. And those people who are getting off food stamps PROBABLY won’t be disappointed. I have a feeling it’ll be much closer to a feeling of relief.
Look, if you want to know my opinion on food stamps, why don’t you take the food stamp challenge. Live on that amount of money for one month, and then see if you want to call them welfare queens or whatever. Okay?
Just…don’t make jokes about not feeding the animals.