The Argument

Posted: February 13, 2014 in Short Stories
Tags: , ,

“Is everything you bought organic?” He asked, as he was helping unpack the hemp grocery bags.

“Yeah, I’m still making sure I don’t buy any genetically modified foods, so organic is the only safe stuff I can depend on.”

He noted a mild irritation in her voice when she answered him.

“Sure, uh, okay.” Now he was taking cover since he suspected he’d most likely triggered a small storm. (He was right.)

“Well, that was kind of a lame ‘okay’ from you. I do this for us you know. Don’t you want me to get healthy foods? Do you want the cheap freaky GMO stuff? Because I don’t, I really don’t.”

“Yeah hon, I know. I wasn’t saying anything against it.”

“Well, you could have fooled me. I saw your face, and could almost hear your eyes rolling when I mentioned GMO foods.” She was on a roll now and there was no place to hide. He’d seen this wind-up so many times before that he knew all the signs, all the signals. A gasket was about to be blown, and there was no way to stop it.

“I didn’t roll my eyes, I didn’t make a sound.” He said quietly.

“I can hear things in your voice you know, I am aware of when you’re mocking me. But that’s okay, if you want to be like that it’s fine with me. I just do what I think is best for us and I am not expecting a parade for it. I just thought you were behind this idea a little more than that.”

His better judgment told him not to respond, but he couldn’t stop himself, the words were already coming. “Look, I’m as concerned as anyone might be about GMO crap, and I don’t want to eat it either. I guess I just didn’t think that every single non-organic product was suddenly GMO laced.”

“Well, I ‘m not saying it is. But, the fact is we don’t really know, do we? So why take a chance on it then, right? And, furthermore, I don’t think you’re as concerned as anyone else, unless you’re speaking of people who aren’t really concerned. I think you just go with the flow, and nod your head a lot. I don’t think you really see what’s happening. You can’t see what this is going to do to our kids, or their kids!”

“Well, you’re right, I don’t know what it’s going to do to them, I don’t know what it’s doing to anybody. I’m not a scientist, I don’t read medical journals, so I don’t know. I just hear it from you, or see an occasional news story about it. I’m not on a crusade against the evil corporations that are going to screw up our food system like you think they are. I happen to think that for every evil corporation that’s messing with things like this, there’s good people, and good scientists that are working on unscrewing it!”

“Oh Christ, that’s so naïve David! Why would any scientists be working on un-modifying GMO foods? There’s no money in that, there’s no research grants for that. The money is in tweaking things they barely know about so they can save the corporations millions of dollars. So they can get ten stalks of Franken-wheat from one seed. That’s where the money is and that’s their motivation.”

“God, your view of the world is so negative. It’s like you think there’s sinister forces controlling everything, and we have no chance of escaping them. Well, I don’t buy it, I can’t believe in a world like that, where conspiracy lurks around every corner. I just don’t believe that’s how things are.”

“Okay Pollyanna, you keep telling yourself that, and in a few years we’ll see who’s right and who’s wrong. I know for a fact that people are motivated by money, and that’s about all that corporations care about is their bottom line. They don’t give a rat’s ass about us, or what their products do to us. They don’t care if we start dying from their GMO foods because they will already have our money. You think I’m being negative, but I am just being a realist. You’re the one with his head in the sand.”

“I am a positive person, and I’m not an idiot. I just don’t see things as negatively as you do. I tend to think that things will get figured out, that they’ll get better in time. It’s just how I am. But you label me as Pollyanna and Mr. Positive, and other names meant to demean me, just because I don’t see the world like you do. I believe there’s good people who do see the big picture and some have dedicated their lives to helping fix what’s been messed up already.

It doesn’t even make sense that big-agra would want to loose upon the world harmful products when their families probably eat the same stuff! Why would they knowingly produce foods that could kill their own families?”

“Because there’s no one-person at a corporation David. There’s no one single boss who has his little family working there with him. It’s a board of directors, and old men with fancy titles that are all paid way too much for what they do. And, there’s the stockholders who want to see a profit every single quarter. None of them give a shit about us individual people! They care about money and growth, and that’s it!”

“That’s so fucking dark Rachel, it’s like you take the smallest thing and blow it up to some uber-negative conclusion.”

“I do no such thing!” She screamed back at him.

“You sat there in bed, just after I read you that small paragraph about the genetic transfer thing and you said Well, we’re doomed then. Humans deserve to all die from what we’re doing to the foods. You said we all deserve to die! Everyone! Do you even remember me asking you if you were for real? Everyone around the world deserves to die because some corporations are fooling with the food? I’m still shocked.”

“Maybe I do think that sometimes, so what? Humans have fucked up this planet and for what? Always the same damn thing, money! If it makes a buck, then screw everybody and do it! That’s the business mantra, and has been for like two centuries. They’ll mow down the entire rainforest if they could make a buck selling chopsticks!”

“All I know is one simple story like that and you go into a negativity spiral that I can’t follow you down! To hear one news story and decide that we’re all going to die, and deserve to, is just crazy in my book. I think there’s a lot more good people in this world, who are working on solutions to the fucked up things we’ve done thus far, and they’re going to make a difference. Hell, they already are! Our country passes all kinds of laws to protect the environment, and in Europe, they have even stronger laws. I can’t believe you think politicians and business owners don’t think about their own kids, or grandkids. They know they have to live here too, and no one wants to poison the future intentionally. These are people, not monsters.”

“They don’t have to be ‘monsters’ to worship the dollar more than other people’s lives David. They can be regular church-going people, but still value money more that anything else. I mean, even if they get old and realize what shitty choices they’ve made, it’s too late! The damage is done, and they can’t do a damn thing about it even with all their money. And, they ain’t giving that up!”

“You know, truthfully, it’s been like this almost our whole relationship. You can’t even watch the evening news with me because you get too depressed about the stories you see. It’s like we’re hearing two different broadcasts. I’m not blaming you for being the way you are, but it’s so different from how I am that I feel alienated from you. I have to work hard to not slide down that hole you’re in. That dark place where everything’s wrong and everyone has some hidden agenda. I can’t go there! I don’t want to go there.”

“I’m not in some dark hole, you asshat, I just think about how screwed up things are and it depresses me. Maybe I’m more sensitive than you are. Maybe I have more feelings for things like the planet and animals and birds eating plastic. People do screwed up things every day and no one seems to want to inconvenience their lives in any way. I mean what? Use a reusable bad for groceries and not a toxic plastic one? Oh no, that’s too much trouble! That’s how people are David, face it.”

“Look Rachel, I love my life, I love the people I know, hell I love people I don’t even know yet. I know the world isn’t perfect, I know there’s a shit load of things wrong all over the globe, but most of it has so little to do with me that I can’t relate to it. I just keep my focus on my life, right here, right around me.

I have concerns about the world, but I can’t take on worrying about it like I have some affect over it. I can use a cotton bag for groceries, I can never use plastic water bottles, and I can make a compost pile in my kitchen. But that’s me, just me! And you know what? If other people see me doing that, maybe one or two of them will decide to try it too. That’s how the world changes, in tiny little steps.”

“Oh and you think that’s enough? You think people all over are going to notice that David has stopped buying plastic water bottles, and change their whole fucking way of life?”

“I don’t know Rachel, and suddenly I don’t give a shit either! I just want to be happy. I just want to live my life for me. Not to please the rest of the world, and not to please you either. I just can’t live like this anymore. I can’t live for a future that only exists in your mind. There’s not enough room in there for me anymore, and I think you sense that too. You’re trying to make me into something I’m not, and it’s like being a shoe that doesn’t fit right. You keep trying it on,  but it still hurts.”

“Wait, what? How did this become about our relationship? What did I say, or do that made you suddenly want to leave me?” Tears were close now, a rare thing for her, and he knew that.

Become about our relationship? It’s all about our relationship, it’s always been about our relationship! Everything we do, or don’t do – every choice we make, every discussion or fight we have are all affecting and forming our relationship. It’s a living and changing process, and ours is actually dying. There’s a lack of oxygen in this living space, Rachel, and we’re suffocating slowly. 

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