A whopper of an epiphany about people and myself

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Enterprise columnist

Well, IÕll tell you one thing Ñ the Winters Whopper War was a total eye-opener for me. People I thought I knew, turns out, I never knew at all.

In fact, my entire perception of them shattered faster than you can say ÒYou want fries with that, maÕam?Ó And were it not for that fateful Burger King project, I never would have known.

The epiphany came while tasting wine at TurkovichÕs. I was chatting with two old friends, and sure enough, the topic of Burger King topic bubbled up like social acid reflux.

I explained that although I hate fast food, including Burger King fare, I realize that others here in town love it, and if they want to wolf down super-sized death on a bun, they have the right to do so. My love of personal freedom outweighs my disgust for junk food. IÕm vehemently opposed to attempts at inhibiting personal choices or controlling other peopleÕs behavior as long as they arenÕt harming anyone else.

That doesnÕt mean I have to like other peopleÕs choices. IÕll talk your eardrums mushy about the horrors of corporate fast food (donÕt take my word for it, go rent ÒFood, Inc.Ó) and the damage youÕll do to your body by eating it, but in the end, if you decide to chow down on a Double Whopper with cheese anyway, I wonÕt stop you. ThatÕs your choice. And your right.

Another of my core values: property ownersÕ rights. If you purchase a piece of property fair and square, intending to use it for the purpose for which itÕs zoned, how would you like the rules of the game being switched on you afterwards?

Imagine buying a residential lot, planning to build your dream home, and you take out the permits, and the neighbors go apoplectic because they love that vacant lot just the way it is. Or maybe they decide they want a carousel there, not a house, and demand that you build that instead. Do they have the right to change how your property can and canÕt be used after youÕve purchased it? Not as long as this is still America, and thatÕs true whether youÕre a homeowner or a developer.

Yet another core value of mine: the right to open the business of your own choice. I heard many people say there ÒshouldÓ be something else on that Burger King property, like In-N-Out or Chipotle or an all-organic, free-trade vegan cooperative specializing in free-range artichokes, but hereÕs the deal: The dude wants a Burger King. ThatÕs his dream. Nobody has the right to force him to open a different business. The only one who gets to choose what type of business heÕs starting is the one opening his wallet to pay for it. DonÕt like it? Open your own dang business.

There you have it, I told my friends at TurkovichÕs that evening Ñ these are the reasons I support the Burger King project, even if I refuse to eat there. Nobody gets to be the boss of me, or of you, or you, or you! Hmph, and hmph!

ÒGee,Ó said the gal sitting next to me, ÒYouÕre starting to sound like a Republican!Ó

And I backpedaled right away from that, because, be a Republican? Me? Ewww É just É ewwww. I could never be a Republican! Republicans are creepy and weird. ThatÕs when she dropped the bomb. Here she was, this person IÕve known for going on two decades, who IÕve gotten along with from day one, a fellow cheerleading coach for five years, about whom IÕd already formed (what I thought was) a completely accurate perception Ñ and she tells me this: ÒYou know, IÕm a Republican.Ó

Shut. Up.

OK, I knew her husband is a raging Republican and despite the fact that he and I donÕt agree politically on one single thing in the entire universe (trust me, I know, weÕve covered all those bases), overall, I find him amusing and we get along just fine. But her! SheÕs such a nice, sweet person, I therefore assumed she had to be a Democrat. Why was she married to someone on the Radical Right? I just figured they had some kind of kinky Rep/Dem S&M freak show thing going on.

Like I said Ñ your own personal choices are nobody elseÕs business. You want to get sticky with a Republican, thatÕs up to you, baby. Whatever floats your boat.

Freak.

But no! Turns out, I was completely, totally wrong about her all along! SheÕs not a kinkster at all! SheÕs one of them! This jolt of cognitive dissonance made my brain go all twisty. And then it twisted even tighter. In the midst of my astonishment over discovering that the person I thought I knew I really didnÕt know at all, the other lovely lady sitting next to her took a demure sip from her sparkling glass of brut, held up her hand almost timidly, and confessed: ÒMe too.Ó

Shut up!

And IÕd known her even longer! We were swim team parents together, for God’s sake! WeÕve seen each otherÕs Speedos! Say it ainÕt so!

Stunned. Just stunned. Not only didnÕt I have a clue about who these women really are after all these years, my perspicacity was in ruins. My perceptions of them were totally erroneous. Nothing more than a fantasy in my own head. But maybe itÕs not such a big deal, really, because in the end, it isnÕt what you believe about people that matters. ItÕs how they treat you that matters. Even if they are creepy, weird Republicans.

Ñ Follow Debra DeAngelo on Twitter. Links are posted at and http://www.edebra.com http://www.wintersexpress.com. Find DebraÕs columns online at http://www.wintersexpress.com, http://www.edebra.com and http://www.ipinion.me

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