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Would you like some more wine with that political attack?

Last night’s dinner was like no other meal I’ve had. It was Tara’s farewell dinner. Today she’s en route to Budapest and intends on spending the rest of August and September meandering through the European hinterland, at least until she runs out of money. To say goodbye, my three roommates (Malissa from Virginia Beach, Mallory and Jessica both of whom are from Texas), Dan from Illinois, Ariana from L.A., Christy from Michigan, Tara from Ireland and I went to a little restaurant down a narrow alley that, according to Mallory, “has amazing lasagna.”

We sat down and the evening started out just fine. Wine was passed around along with sesame seed bread and we ordered our meals. Sometime after our food came, Malissa mentioned to me that Christy also didn’t eat meat. I said to Christy, “Oh really? What’s you’re reason for not eating meat?” and she replied, looking in the opposite direction of me, “There’s too many reasons to talk about it.” I was just trying to make small talk but with a response like that I decided I didn’t care much to inquire further and replied, “OK.” And began slicing my pizza.

Later, somehow she got on the topic of Texas and she had nothing good to say about the state. According to Christy, the state is comprised of two things: cowboys and white trash. Jessica and Mallory heard this and Jessica asked, “Do you hate all Texans?” and Christy said most confidently, “Yes.” After Ariana made Christy aware of the Texans at the table, she still remained firm in her opinion that she hates Texas and all Texans. I was flabbergasted and turned to Jessica and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!” I simply couldn’t believe someone would be so rude and ignorant. I was on the verge of asking how she felt about Kentuckians, only because I’m sure she would feel Kentucky is teeming with white trash. But being that is was Tara’s farewell dinner, I didn’t think it appropriate to provoke further tension.

Stemming from that conversation, the new topic was republicans vs. democrats. The table was mostly democrat, with the exception of Tara, who is Irish and Dan, a republican. Suddenly a political debate broke out. I stayed out of the debate as best I could and since I was in the exact middle of the table, I looked to one end and then to the other listening as both sides went back and forth with rebuttal after rebuttal. Although incredibly tense, it was entertaining.

This lead to thoughts on global warming. Big mistake. According to Dan, it wouldn’t be a problem to lose the polar bears; after all, “nobody misses the one at the top of the food chain.” Several of us attempted to argue how the extinction of one species is detrimental to an entire ecosystem but it was really no use. Dan is not one to back down from his argument, a characteristic of his that was made clear during our weekend trip. The topic was squashed soon thereafter as some expressed that global warming and politics are not good dinner topics.

By this point, I was finished attempting to be friendly to Christy. She had stated that she hated American students that come to Europe because they're loud and drink too much and embarass the United States. Everyone sitting at the table were students and except for one, all were from America. What audacity. She had put a premature end to another conversation I started with her and she had also insulted my friends from Texas so I really wanted nothing to do with her other than to give a well-deserved punch to the face. I was talking with Ariana about going to Israel and Christy asked if I was part of that ‘birthright thing.’ She asked me if I ever felt unsafe being in Israel and I told her that I never felt unsafe. I told her that it was really quite peaceful in most places and she was skeptical. So I told her that television really portrays Israel to be much worse than it actually is; it’s not bad everywhere. To this she huffed and puffed and said that she didn’t believe what I said and I tried to assure her that the violence is going on in the Gaza Strip and that we didn’t go there on our trip. It really bothered me that she asked for my opinion and then dismissed it as invalid. Don’t ask me what I think only to indicate that what I say is of no worth; she hadn’t even been to Israel before and I have. I never use the B-word because I really don’t like it but this girl was a bitch. Plain and simple. (Sorry family, especially you Mom!)

The following topic was one I need not explain except that it dealt with differing opinions between the only male at the table vs. the females (headed by Ariana, a very outspoken, forthright person) on the topic of a certain part of the male anatomy and whether or not it is considered an erogenous zone. In the end, it was made obvious Dan’s inexperience with women and I felt quite terrible for him because I know he must have been embarrassed.

Walking away from the restaurant, I was in step with Tara and the rest of the group was walking staggered either in front of us or behind. She said to me that she was amazed at the conversations that were had and I agreed, saying that I had never been to a dinner quite like that before. I have never been in such an awkward, tense gathering of what is supposed to be a fun night out. However, I laughed nearly as much as I was taken aback throughout the meal so all in all, it wasn’t a bad dinner. Just a bizarre one.

Posted by sarabee 03:20 Archived in Italy Tagged food

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Aww, that sucks! As a traveler I've always tried to follow the mantra of being cautions when talking about politics, religion or money with a member of your host country, but it sounds like things can get just as ugly if the topic comes up among fellow country men and women. What is it about travelling to a foreign country that, at times, brings the conversation back to the problems of our home countries?? Very tricky. Here as I'm about to study abroad I thought I'd have to be careful talking politics with my european hosts and friends, but the thought hadn't crossed my mind that I'd have to watch out for other Americans. Hope things ended peacefully! Thanks for the post.

by ernielow

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