Friday, December 18, 2009

Dealbreaker.

There are numerous reasons I hate sushi, not the least of which is because I have serious issues with food consistency, most especially rubbery foods, and sushi has the weirdest consistency of like almost anything ever. I can't stomach it. But the biggest reason I hate sushi, and the thing I really can't stomach, is the attitude most sushi eaters (at least the ones in NYC) have about it.

In the last couple months, there have been three guys (at least three, could be more) who clearly see my not liking sushi not only as some horrible personality defect that's worthy of judgmental condescension but also apparently a dealbreaker when it comes to dating.

Now I could see a dealbreaker having to do with food being something more like, oh say, someone who eats an entire diet of Spam, and only Spam, and refuses to eat anything else. If you don't want to eat, see, or smell Spam on every date, I could see that understandably being a problem. But just because someone doesn't like raw or basically raw fish blubbering slipping and sliding around in their mouth, and the fact that you have to chew through THE WHOLE PIECE if you don't want the slimy seaweed and whatever else to fall apart (I have a small mouth!), and the fact that the other ingredients often in sushi besides weird-consistency fish are all also things I don't like (cucumber, avocado, other fish, seaweed, etc... I'm not even crazy about rice...), and the fact that I don't see how sushi could possibly fill you up, especially if you're drinking sake on the side (sounds like a good way to get wasted) -- should NOT mean that the person is not datable. But that is indeed what it means for NYC sushi-eaters.

The conversation always goes something like this: "Where do you want to go for dinner?" "Really anywhere, except just no sushi." (If you are a non-sushi eater, you always have to clarify this up front, because 9 times out of 10, in New York City that's where you're going to end up if you don't speak up.) "Well I don't really care either. Wait. You don't eat sushi?" And that's pretty much the end. At that point, I really should just go home. The night's officially over.

Do you think I'm exaggerating? I must be, right, considering the fact that it is so ridiculously absurd? But I'm telling you, I am not exaggerating. If you are a non-sushi eater, without fail sushi-eaters somehow make OTHER judgments about you that have nothing to do with the fact that you don't like the consistency of one certain food. They think they're better than you, for one thing. You must be some quaint person from the back country who hasn't lived a stitch of a life if you're not hopping on the trendy sushi train, right? It can't possibly simply be that any kind of rubbery food at all triggers your gag reflex. (Seriously... don't try to make me eat a shrimp either.) They think it must be that you're a boring non-adventurous person set in their ways and clearly non-compatible with them because you are not willing to try new things... even if you've tried sushi a million times and still don't like it. They say, Well, you must not have tried the RIGHT kinds. You must have only had a California roll. Or, you must not have ever had a California roll. Or, you must have only had cheap sushi, you need to try the good stuff. Or, I know this one place, you'll like THEIR sushi, you've never had sushi like this. Hello, is it sushi? Then I've had sushi like this. What is hard to understand about the fact that I do not like sushi? Cheap, expensive, your place, her place, California roll, non-California roll, I have tried all of these things. The bottom line is that sushi is what it is no matter where you get it, and I do not like it. Unless you've turned it into a food with a different consistency and different ingredients, I'm not magically going to like it.

The judgments people make about what this says about someone are unnecessary, unfounded and unreasonable. They act like you must be a person who eats doughnuts and TV dinners and McDonald's for every meal. They act like you are uncultured, unsophisticated - a stupid classless idiot. They act like you're the biggest loser they've ever met in their life, obviously not a cool person worthy enough to interact with since you don't eat sushi. And they act like they don't know how you duped them for this long into thinking that you WERE a decent person, just to find out now that you're a sushi-hater who they never could possibly associate with. I have actually had someone say to me, "but you seemed so normal."

In my opinion, this criticism of my food preferences is wholly unwarranted. I do not like melted cheese. This is weird (and related to the very same food consistency issue), but it has nothing to do with what class of person I am, does it? I don't like red peppers either. This seems like it should leave a neutral impression on you. And I also like a lot of foods that other people don't like. Broccoli drowned in vinegar, for example - this is not a popular choice in the general public. I also like bleu cheese on basically anything, whereas a lot of people think it's moldy and gross. I'm obsessed with Indian food, but a lot of people don't like the spiciness of this cuisine. There are a billion other things I eat which some other people don't. But I don't make judgments about you because you don't like the same foods I like. It does not indicate anything to me whatsoever about your personality. Even something terribly widespread, like pasta. I love pasta. If you and I were going to dinner and you said you don't like pasta, I would shrug and pick someplace else and never think of it again. I would not try to convince you why you SHOULD like pasta. I would not make a judgment call about your personality and your lifestyle because you DON'T like pasta. I wouldn't tell you, well, you've never had THIS kind of pasta. And it would certainly NOT be a dealbreaker.

And so I plead with you, dear sushi-eating friends, please leave the attitude at home. Congratulations to you for liking a food from another country that is overwhelmingly and almost desperately trendy in this country. That's completely fine with me, I honestly 100% do not care whatsoever whether you like it or don't like it. What I don't like is your attitude toward me about the fact that I don't. THAT is the dealbreaker.


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