Chapter 14: Rasperber’s

”If this trip to the restaurant was a sneak preview for what was to happen in two days” Michelle was thinking to herself, well then, public relations at the Boatyard doomed to spiral out of control.  Despite the fact she liked the food at Rasperber’s, she was feeling jaded about this whole dinner.  Greg, Kelley, Martin, Foresman, Lorraine, and Jeffrey were already there when she arrived. She thought she had shown up there early along with Jamie, Harry and Shemar, when she the rest of the bunch.  They were helping themselves to a ‘pee-pee-platter’ while they waited.  It was an odd vegetarian appetizer Rasperber’s was famous for that resembled a Polynesian dish, even if this place was technically Siberian cuisine.  Still no Peter.  They were on their second round of appetizers when suddenly two of the New Wavers showed up unexpectedly.  Nobody in principle had any objective to this: for their part, the two New Wavers named Delia and Cassandra respectively, were there to attempt diplomatic relations for Friday’s big ‘meeting’.

“Our only goal here is to tell Peter that we support his decision to participate in a civil discussion” they explained. “We don’t want feathers to get any more ruffled. We realize this is a delicate matter, but we know we are all friends to positive energy, so we’re sure we’re all going to be able to come to a solution.

“Spoken like true bullshit artists” Michelle thought to herself.  This dinner should be interesting.

Soon Peter and his two friends showed up, and he was at first quite touched to see he had this many allies. The main dinner at Rasperber’s started off pleasant enough, but unfortunately within twenty minutes it escalated into extremist identity politics once again.   Despite the good intentions, there were certain issues that the New Wavers refused to agree with Peter on, and it started to dishearten him.  Some of the families sitting adjacent to the Boatyarders ended up leaving out of annoyance, after hearing some of the more reckless members belt out their political views without discretion.  After observing everything crumble apart when no one could come to any agreement on so many of these cliché’ issues,  Peter signaled he was ready to leave.

“Thanks for coming, but I figure if you’re really my friends, you won’t be offended I’m leaving. Not sure about Friday either. And you will understand when I say this: I’m sorry to say, but I’ll be ok if I don’t keep in touch with half of you again” he said flatly. “The rest of you, you know who you are, and we’re cool.”

“Talk about jaded” said Delia finally. “What’s your problem?”

“I’m just too honest I guess” he said while taking no further notice. “But at any rate, you can all go on and continue to contribute to these delusions – and try to resolve social justice and chase utopia until you’re blue in the face.  But you know what?  I don’t think you’ll ever reach what you’re looking for!  You’re missing the key variable to all this, and I’m not going to tell you what that is.”

“That’s because you don’t know what you’re talking about yourself!”  Cassandra retaliated angrily. “See?  This is what I wanted to leave the first time around:  futile discussions with no solution.”

“This is not discussion: this is accusation” she shot back.  Peter waved goodbye as he turned around.

“No solution: because people don’t want to face their own lack of logic in these issues” he said as he pointed at several of the Boatyarders.  “The real existential issues I mean, not just the lame social justice issues that are secretly the agenda of Demodads.”

“What the hell is he talking about?” most of the Boatyarders wondered to themselves, but Peter tried to elaborate:

“You see, the New Wavers: they want to ignore the issues!” Michelle wanted to say something. Despite her own initial pessimism, she felt she might be able to neutralize this before this got really ugly.  She knew how sensitive Delia was.  But there was a part of her that wanted to see how this was all going to pan out.  For the last several days, she had kept relatively quiet about   all the out of body experiences she felt she was having.  It wasn’t just her strange visions: just watching people interact with each other; every conversation she would eavesdrop on — whenever anyone would just name call   she was starting to get a strange sensation: she felt that could physically ‘feel’ the argument. The hairs on her arm would straighten up as if they were wanting to get raptured by the sky – like a gravitational pull from some invisible source above that was triggered every time there was strife.  The sensation was ever so slight and barely palpable – but there.   Just for that alone, Michelle started to yearn how nice it would be if people could just come to reasonable compromise, but the egos just kept getting in the way.

Right now, most of the people at the table were  siding more with Cassandra than Peter: this tiff had broken out because they both (for no particular reason) started discussing from out of nowhere how unsafe it felt for a woman to walk out on the streets by herself,  and that no man here in that table or in that restaurant (as Cassandra bellowed loudly) would ever be able to relate to how painful that felt.   At first nobody disagreed with her but Peter had gotten a little out of line: he had callously reminded everyone there that if some of the girls at the Boatyard felt so unsafe,  they  should have taken advantage of the free martial arts classes that had been held there.

“Why the hell are you such a dick sometimes?” several of the Boatyarders asked him.

“Poor Peter” thought Michelle.  Perhaps she understood him better than the others: he was just trying to be practical.

“That’s not the point!” said Cassandra.  “We shouldn’t have to do that just to feel safe in the first place.  We should live in a world where feeling unsafe isn’t even an issue!”

“What the fuck?” Peter replied irritably. “What did I say now?  I wasn’t disagreeing with you; I was just proposing a solution.”

Cassandra and Delia were not impressed. “We’re not looking for someone to give advice.  That’s not why I said this comment!” she replied with her own dose of frustration.

“So what the hell do you want?”

“We just want someone to say…try to take a hint: we just want someone to say: yeah, you’re right.  And that that must suck…Not try to feel morally superior because you feel like you think you can solve all problems.”

Peter could not believe his ears. “Who the freak said anything about being morally superior?  Besides, wait a minute.  Is that wrong?  You know, when I hear someone groan about something, sometimes solutions are what people are looking for.”

“You’re always thinking in terms of efficiency” Delia argued back.  “That’s your problem!  Life is not just this way. Life sometimes is about being in the moment of relationships. There are people that approach thinking differently than you:  the way you think is not the only way to approach life.”

Peter scoffed. “Maybe, but it’s probably the most efficient.  Everything I think is based on rationalism and logic” he shot back.  “Those are the foundational philosophies for everything that brings order in life.   Besides, if you don’t believe in rationalism, you shouldn’t be taking advantage of all its benefits.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well that fucking Gyrotaur smart phone you all have there, for one” he said pointing to her communications device.  “Technology wouldn’t work without the laws of physics and the scientific method leading the way. So don’t act like you don’t agree with the benefits that come with that kind of philosophy just when it doesn’t appear convenient to your narrow ideology.”

“You’re really not making any sense” said Delia.  Everybody else at the table remained tense as Peter and Delia kept exchanging their diatribes towards each other.  It seemed that Delia was trying to drill some sensitivity points to Peter’s stubborn attitude, but Peter had had enough.

“Call me crazy, but I would think that if something is bothering me, I would think what I need more than anything is find a solution if I don’t have one” he continued. “Sorry; call me crazy, but in terms of the injustice you feel you have because you’re a woman, it sounds like more than anything  you’re too lazy to make a solution.”

“And you always have solutions, don’t you?” Cassandra called back.  “Big Mr. Science-I-know everything to fix it!”

“Well, yeah!” he yelled back.  “I’m either right or I’m full of shit.  You do the math: if you’re feeling the burden of all this danger out on the streets just for being a woman, in the end, what’s stopping you from learning martial arts and being empowered and kicking ass?”

“Our point was” Delia reminded him  “we shouldn’t have to walk around in fear in the first place.”   Peter relaxed a bit.  He could tell this was futile, but by now it was obvious he wasn’t going anywhere either.  The spirit of debate was too great in him.  He sat down back in his chair and asked Delia calmly:

“You shouldn’t have to walk like that; that’s true.  So now what?”

“So now …what?” she replied.

“So what are you going to do now?” Peter asked again. “What do we do about things now?  Now that we acknowledge these realities, what is the most functional thing for you to do…assuming you’re not going to be able to change most misogynistic douchebag-sketch-ball’s attitudes anytime soon.  Ultimately, I would think that if this was me, I would want to change my reality. I probably would want to learn how to kick some ass.”

“Look; some of us have things we do in our lives.  Not everyone has time to go to the gym and work out.  Some of us have jobs.”

“Hey, I’ve got a job” Peter replied smugly.  “I still find time…”

“See; I think we misunderstand each other” Cassandra responded back for Delia. “In the end, really: 100% of life is about relationships. Some people find that more worth investing that just ‘personal betterment’”

“But those two things are interconnected!” Peter cried back.  Cheryl and some of the others were concerned. He started rocking back and forth on his chair as if he was barely able to contain himself.

“No way” many people around the table said, disagreeing with Cassandra.  Michelle continued to not say anything but observed. “Relationships are important, but what about money and all that?” they interjected.  “Life is also about survival and some efficiency.”

“Ok; close to 80% percent of life is about relationships” Cassandra admitted. “Everything else is super-secondary… at least for me, all right?”  She was starting to feel cornered. “Look, trying to be ‘efficient’ as Peter keeps implying, and learning everything so that my life is more ‘efficient’, well that’s not my priority, ok?  I’d rather spend my energy having meaningful relationships.”

“But if that’s true” Peter said carefully “then are all your relationships with friends perfect?  Well, are they?” he asked both Delia and Cassandra.

“No, I guess they’re not.  What’s your point?” “My point is, if relationships between you and your friends are not perfect, and therefore every now and then you must groan about something unfair in life during your conversations, and you don’t employ some sort of pro-active stance to find real solutions and change your reality: how do expect things to things to change for any of you?”

“I’m not following.”

“Those conversations must end up ultimately frustrating year in and out if the people you hang out with all continue whining to each other — but nothing seems to change. I just described most social justice warrior’s true natures to you.  Wouldn’t that just drive someone crazy?  I mean, ultimately more than these bullshit conversations we’re having: if I’m saying that I prioritize my relationships, but I also don’t prioritize the idea of being proactive and changing the things in my life that I hate….wouldn’t people just eventually get sick of hearing me complain about my problems?  I mean, what else would you be talking about besides that?  Certainly it’s not success stories” Peter argued, “if we don’t execute the best tactics to solve problems which we can do best if we’re willing to detach our emotions and employ reason, then nothing is going to change.”

“You’re using confusing words” said Delia. “I’m still not following.”

“If we can’t execute solutions that are the most functional to solve our problems once and for all, then what is the point in investing all that energy in your kind of relationships? It’s not like they can get any better because no one is really interested in really seeking solutions.  If they were, they would just build separate societies from the ground up: you know; with math, science, new commerce.  But that takes skill and sweat.  Most people I know like you couldn’t do that.”

“Wow” said Delia.  “You going to keep insulting us?”

“I’m just saying!” Peter continued. “Those so called friends of yours: whining year in and out: what must you talk about? Don’t you see?  By your logic, it sounds like what you’re saying is that you really are not interested in putting in effort it takes to fix your problems.  You just wish life was easier.”

“Always dramatic” Cassandra said to Delia. “Incomprehensible.”

“Dammit!” Peter exclaimed. “I’m just saying you sound like you just like the feeling of being in relationships, but you don’t really care if they’re deep – or if there is a bigger solution to solve all your problems once and for all.  Because if you did, you’d employ some sort of game-theory strategy to minimize these problems once and for all.  I’m calling you out.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“Shit; I give up” Peter said with a wave of his hands up in the air.  “Someday if you leave that cult, come see me” he said coldly, and walked off into the night with Cheryl and Tim following him.


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