The next day, Cheryl and Tim were in Peter’s new apartment. It truly was a beautiful beach house. It had a loft that surrounded the entire living and dining room area below, and up on the loft were several rooms: one was Peter’s bedroom. One other was his computer room, and the other one was vacant, and Tim was hinting at seeing if it was possible Peter needed a roommate any time soon.
“Yeah; I’ve been here six times so far” said Tim. “And I got to say, now that I’ve absorbed the atmosphere in here, this place is, as they say in retro terms, ‘lit’: I don’t blame you for moving on from the Boatyard. Why the hell would you move back?”
“Because” said Cheryl as she shot and annoyed glance at Tim for planting that seed “we need more sane people who are willing to have rational conversation– and not just some one-sided viewpoints when debating at the Boatyard.” They were waiting for dinner later: they were supposed to get something to eat that night with some of their other friends from the Boatyard. Apparently, there quite a few members that wanted to tell him they weren’t happy about him leaving, and these other members wanted to show their support before the big debate in two days. They were going to meet at ‘Rasperbers’ that night. It was a local Siberian cuisine restaurant that for some reason Peter had really grown fond of. The other members were ‘O.G.’s’ or other neutral members of the community that wanted to tell him that they were sorry they never got to contact him, but were supporting Peter’s decisions, no matter what.
“I don’t know” put in Peter as he gathered his things. “They say that, but define insanity” he told Cheryl. “In my world, insanity is getting up every day and being miserable, and insisting on subscribing to the same thing over and over again without changing. The O.G.’s claim to hate the new vibe there, but they don’t do anything about it.”
“Why are you telling us?” asked Cheryl as she pointed to herself and Tim. “We know this. They need you back there.”
“You know one of the things Rita said to me before I left?” said Peter. “All I said to her once was — we got into a debate; and all I had said to her once was that if she feels that she lives with greater anxiety than a man, then I simply suggested she get involved in the martial arts club that was offered at the Boathouse. She took major offense to that as if I was this unsympathetic devil.”
“Come on; you’re exaggerating” said Cheryl.
“No, no I’m not!” answered Peter. “It’s ok for her or any of her friends to be triggered at insensitive remarks. But if I take offense to that, no one cares and no one is going to apologize, because according to them, I’m a ‘white male’, and I am have to make reparations for all the bullshit that every douchebag male did to women during the history of the human race.”
“Come on; that’s not what’s going on.”
“That’s what it feels like!” Peter countered. “You know, it’s Karma: some culture somewhere down in history should give some sort of reparation for the injustices of victimized people in society.”
“Yeah” Peter muttered darkly. “It’s called welfare.”
“See, that kind of attitude is not going to get you any points if you debate like that tomorrow” said Cheryl disappointedly. “It makes you just sound like an ignorant idiot.”
Peter just shook his head at her with slight disbelief, and then shrugged. “Fine” he said “but I didn’t particularly mention a ‘race’ right now, did I? I just simply said the word ‘welfare’. ‘Minority’ is not a race. Technically that could insinuate anyone who is of a small percentage, such as the few sane people left at the Boatyard – or all those poor Irish bastards that live by the docks up near Vernier Hill. There’s not many of them living here near the rich Barrington area, but they’re dirt poor.”
“What the hell are you saying?”
“I’m saying I just simply said the word ‘minority’. You probably just insinuated one race in your mind subconsciously, just like they accuse me of doing every time I’m supposed to speak to any person –according to them – who is not a white male: double standard. By the way; if you did do that, that’s racist” Peter added as he folded up some shirts. Cheryl didn’t know what to say, but helped him fold some of his shirts. Tim just sat on the loveseat and checked his messages. “Just know this: You know what Rita said to me before I left?” she accused me of misogyny because after listening to Kara badmouth to her about the way I had sounded when we argued that night, she called me misogynistic. According her, whenever I talk, “my subconscious is bringing in misogyny. ‘You’re just not aware of it because it was so subliminal’ she said to me.”
“Well, to be fair, you may have some points, but you can sometimes be kind of an insensitive dick” Cheryl pointed out.
“Ok maybe, but my point is this: she was just as emotionally charged and as condescending as I was (if we’re going to call ‘foul’), but nobody is siding with me when she was interrupting me during our discussion.”
“What’s your point?”
“My point is, so you get to be a dick to me, but there’s no repercussions for you, because if I retaliate and defend myself against stupid accusations I’m being misogynistic by default. Yeah, that’s convenient. Explain the logic there.” Cheryl was silent for a minute, and Tim shrugged on the couch.
“Actually, I think I just explained to you exactly why I don’t want to do this on Friday. It won’t be a place where we can engage in a rational debate. It will be a kangaroo court. And no matter what these ding dongs are going to say to me at Rasperber’s tonight, they’re going to run away and leave me in a foxhole in two days. Because you know why? They’re afraid to lose face.”
Tim did not seem to be too daunted by Peter’s observations, but Cheryl was worried: Peter was very intelligent, and it was hard to out-argue him because his points were very well thought out. But still she didn’t agree with him on all his ideas. All she knew was that the Boatyard needed him to keep things balanced. Both he and Michelle were the best independent thinkers of the group, and because Michelle was never really picked on, she wondered if someday sooner than later Michelle would get too comfortable to bother doing anything to help keep order around there. Cheryl wished that more of the residents of the Boatyard she was friends with were more headstrong against some of the radical New Wavers. As sick and tired as she was of the drama going on, she knew none of her other allies there had the power to out-argue these New Wavers. It was like trying to verbally spar with a bunch of lawyers. As she followed Peter and Tim out the door of the beach house and into Peter’s old hatchback, she wished this pre-conversation/intervention/whatever it was at Rasperber’s would end well. “I really hope Michelle is going to be there” she thought with any luck. It didn’t help that Peter had snubbed her lately in his funk.
“If she shows, maybe they can come up with a real battle plan for the debate” Cheryl hoped to herself. She knew that perhaps together they may see this thing through. “They’ll have a way better argument to put a stop to all this bullshit going on.” As Peter drove them both to Rasperber’s, Cheryl stared at him through the rear-view mirror. These next seventy-two hours could be a disaster: usually whatever Peter would say during a debate would come across as pretentious. She hoped her friends waiting for them at the restaurant would be patient with him. She knew the ‘O.G’s that were going to be at dinner tonight might end up annoying Peter if he had to find himself justifying his recent departure from the community. She just hoped this wasn’t a complete waste of time.