Wednesday, November 21, 2007

ever heard of thirst?

Once a month I get together with a handful of people and engage in some heated debate. OK, I engage in debate quite frequently, but this is the same group of people, and the genesis is always a book.

This week we touched on whether cultural relativism is ever defensible, whether superpowers have any clue their dominance inevitably has an end date, and how the demise of face-to-face combat has changed the nature of war. It gets a bit animated because everyone who shows up is pretty bright, and the same woman always hosts at her place.

Sounds good so far, right? Now, here's the complaint: never once have I seen the host offer anyone food, snacks, a drink, or even water. Nor have I seen anyone else bring any such items, not even a take-out coffee. People sit in their designated seat and engage in debate for three hours at a time and nobody eats or drinks. Last time I brought a tea in a safe, lidded, take-out container and I think I saw a few frowns.

Admittedly, I'm not the normal house guest. I grew up in a decidedly-non-white-bread household where food was a huge part of any social gathering. I've learned not to expect everyone to serve a six course meal for anyone who crosses his or her threshold, the way my parents would. But having guests at your house for three hours, without even offering up some tap water just seems a bit gauche, no?

This group has predated me for quite some time (I've only joined in the last few months), so there may be some fantastic explanation for this dearth of food and drink. I've spent an embarrassing amount of time amusing myself with potential explanations. Perhaps a particularly heated debate provoked a nasty food fight, leading the banning of food into perpetuity? Or they discovered that half liked peanut butter, the other half chocolate, but no accidental combination of the two ever happened? Or perhaps the drinks were mysteriously spiked one night, leading to a strange round of strip debating? I could go on and on.



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Emory said...

Oh I get it. You want your cultural relivism of the offering of food and drink, to dominate the group relitivism of austere famine and thirst.

I would be a strong advocate of cultural domination, given the lack of 'nosh' at the gathering. Even if the topic were sub-saharan famine, I think they could offer a rice cake and some diluted wheat grass juice.

'We uns' is known for hopitality. So 'You-uns' come on down here, and get you some Benne Balls and Mimosa's!

complain away said...

I do love the southern hospitality, but, sadly, every time I get down there the food always kills me. How do you people live?