It’s astonishing what people consider to be polite, small-talky-ish conversation.
I’m a vegetarian, and I have been for about 13 years now. I do not walk around sporting a t-shirt that says “Down With Meat”; I don’t introduce myself as “A Vegetarian”; I won’t throw red paint at you– and, as a matter of fact, I don’t give a fig what you’re having for dinner. But inevitably after conversing with someone for long enough, the topic seems to come up.
It usually happens around a holiday, say Thanksgiving. The conversation goes something like this:
Person: So, looking forward to Thanksgiving Dinner?
Person: Mmm, turkey. I just can’t wait to dig into that turkey, can you?
Person: Turkeyturkeyturkey. Don’t you just LOVE TURKEY?
Me: (finally, reluctantly, as I know what’s coming next) Actually, I don’t eat turkey.
Person: Ah. Prefer steak, do you? Me too.
Me: Actually, I don’t eat steak either. I’m a vegetarian.
Now. This is where said Person has the opportunity to say “Oh,” and thus ends the conversation. What usually follows is a couple more rounds of “So you don’t eat ANY MEAT? Not even, like, LAMB?” etc etc. I’m a pretty good sport about it, for the most part.
What really gets me, though, is when, a couple of months later, completely apropos of nothing that had been said for the past hour or so, the person comes up with:
“So… what do you eat, then?”
I mean, what? This has happened to me several times lately. Each time, I’m like- wait a second, weren’t we just discussing Seinfeld or something? Where did this come from?
Seriously– how can you answer that? Am I expected to list, in alphabetical order, all of the foods that I’ve ever eaten? It’s pretty simple, actually. Vegetarian= no meat. All other foods= eaten. The thing is, I don’t go around asking people “Hey, you’re not a vegetarian, eh? So like, what the heck do you eat, then? Huh?” in the middle of a conversation. They’re not even prefacing it with a “So… vegetarian, eh?” It’s just like “Yeah, I saw that episode of Fringe last night. What do you eat?”