Take a little journey with me, if you would.
You’ve now been a city dweller of a fairly major metropolitan area for just over six years, and you only really let your small town roots show when you’re back in your hometown or when happy hour needs a good anecdote about the simple life (No, it doesn’t require a stoplight to be called a village. Yes, your town is actually a village. Yes, your graduating class was only 28 people. No, you really didn’t learn Spanish even though you took four years of it in high school because your class convinced the [German] Spanish teacher freshman year that you all learned best when watching Disney movies in English with Spanish subtitles. Yes, you have the innate ability to mix Skol vodka with literally any other liquid that’s available. No, you’ve never driven a tractor.).
And all in all, life is going well. It’s still fairly simple, but your friends and job and spouse are great and your family is close and your puppies are cuddly (and they absolutely DO NOT GET STRESSED WHEN YOU HUG THEM) and you really don’t have much to complain about.
So it’s just a few days into the sixth month of the two thousand sixteenth year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, and you’re sitting outside of a local brewery with your coworkers – who have really become your friends (whether or not they would acknowledge it) – and the sun is bright and the mood is light and the conversation turns to a topic you love.
Just thinking about this topic makes your chest grow warm. Your face glows and you’re both serenely relaxed and nearly giddy from the rush of endorphins, readying words of praise and reminiscence. You open your mouth to speak as you feebly attempt to blink away the tears of joy that threaten to spill over your cheeks.
But as your mind brings you back to the present, you realize something is…off. The mood isn’t as you expected, and the others around you – these friends, these newfound confidants – don’t seem to be reflecting your elation. But why? Did the topic of discussion suddenly change? Did a dreadful occurrence escape your notice?
Your ears take in their spoken words, and your voice catches in your throat.
Because just then, just at that moment, you realize the acquaintances next to you aren’t praising this topic as you anticipated. No, in fact, it’s much worse than you ever could have imagined: They’re mocking it. Scolding it. Blaspheming it.
Your vision starts to spin.
You grow silent and fold into yourself; your brow creases and your heart pounds and your mind jumbles in chaos and confusion.
Because after nearly three decades of love, wonder and devotion, you’ve just found out, in the most casual and concurrently horrific of ways, that people don’t just dislike this topic, this thing that brings you such comfort and joy – they actually hate it. Despise it. Abhor it. They even physically shudder when uttering the word.
The realization is almost to much to bear. You can’t stop the thoughts as they crash in on top of one another: Was your entire childhood – and now your adult life – a lie? Were you the only one who didn’t know how the general public felt about this precious jewel of a thing? How did the world go from something so sweet to a place so cruel in the fraction of a moment?
You’re crushed, broken. And the strangers at your table are now starting at you in expectation, waiting for your habitual wit to add sass and ridicule to the conversation and growing slightly puzzled and impatient at your hesitation.
So you recover, on the outside. You choke back the tears and force a nervous laugh and stammer that of course you didn’t actually care about it, omg who did they think you were anyway? It was just a joke, you can’t believe they fell for it hahahaomg.
Inside, though, your nerves are on fire. Your brain screams at your traitorous words and your kidneys do whatever kidneys might do (keep making urine? I guess?) and your heart dislodges itself from your chest and slides down your ribcage (That scene in Anastasia when Rasputin is freaking out but then Bartok calms him down so much that his head drops inside of body and naps on some organs? You know?) until it hits the ground (I might have lost the metaphor there because not sure how your heart is now outside your body? Science?) and withers, nearly lifeless, into a dirty puddle on the ground.
So you sit there, a smile plastered on your lips, as you raise your glass to clink the others’ and attempt to rejoin the conversation, and the enemies you’re now surrounded by don’t have any idea of the damage they’ve just caused, the pain they’ve just provoked, the life they’ve just ruined.
That’s me, finding out recently that most people don’t like Velveeta.
I imagine that’s how wars are started.