June 14, 2004

Is that o-f-f-e-n-s-e or o-f-f-e-n-c-e?

A few of you have met my Canadian roommate. He's generally a good guy. He recycles. He's kind to his cat. He pays his bills on time. He tries to get me to eat bacon now and then, but it's usually all in good humor.

Last night I had what I'll charitably call an interesting conversation with him. He was describing his latest trip to Ikea and the assorted fun things he'd gotten there-- a tiny coffeemaker, an old-fashioned alarm clock, and the world's most badass mousepad. "Oh? What's so badass about it?" I asked. "It's made of LEATHER!" he announced triumphantly. I rolled my eyes, and he cackled. "Yeah... animals died for my mousepad!"

I was floored. The bacon is one thing; after all, it's the tasty end product and not the inhumane process that he's glorifying. I can understand that, and I'll be the first to agree that animal products generally taste pretty good. I can also understand raving about the attractive styling and incredible durability of the leather mousepad. But to look a committed vegan in the eye and gloat specifically about the cruelty involved in the product you're talking about? That's appalling. I'd be horrified by the total lack of empathy even if it weren't a deliberate slap in the face to my beliefs, and I'd be offended by the deliberate slap in the face to my beliefs even if it didn't also reflect a total lack of empathy.

I understand that it was a joke, at least to him. That was why I didn't subject him to an immediate lecture on compassion and the humane treatment of other species. My disbelief at what I'd just heard was why I didn't subject him to an immediate lecture on common courtesy. Now that I think about it, he really made out like a bandit on both those counts.

Really, though, where the hell did that come from? Dear Abby: if my roommate's a hippie, can I mock her most deeply-held beliefs without feeling that I've done anything inappropriate? I can? Oh, goody. Please, for the love of god and/or cookies, someone explain to me what's going on here.

Posted by dianna at June 14, 2004 10:10 AM

i do love god, but i cannot explain this for you. who buys a leather mousepad? i can't quite wrap my head around that one. though i can appreciate that it's not one of those holographic ones, because those make me ill.

Posted by: michele at June 14, 2004 10:17 AM

Well, how about cookies? Do you love them, and does that help with the explaining?

I can't understand why anyone wouldn't just freakin' go to Staples and get the tacky red Staples logo mousepad for $1. It's $1. This leather mousepad costs 9 times that and will work precisely as well. And smells like leather. Ew.

Posted by: Dianna at June 14, 2004 10:34 AM

yeah, why would you want a dead-cow mousepad? so rough and unpleasant to the touch. that's why i have all my clothes and accessories made exclusively from hamster skin.

Posted by: didofoot at June 14, 2004 10:40 AM

i'm kind of off today so if that was offensive or just dumb, well, it can't be helped. sorry.

Posted by: didofoot at June 14, 2004 10:41 AM

Oh, I tell a lie. Staples mousepads are $2.


Posted by: Dianna at June 14, 2004 10:43 AM

hey! i like hamsters. my brother tried to convince me that turpentine (the hedgehog) was a better pet than a hamster. which i didn't really agree with.

i do love cookies. and i think he was joking. poorly. sometimes people say things before they've really thought it out and then feel terrible for having said them but really were joking. i know it's obnoxious and horrible, but sometimes you've just got to poke fun at people who are different than you. it's a reflex. plus, he's canadian, and what do they know aboot courtesy? see? now i've done it.

Posted by: michele at June 14, 2004 11:05 AM

my mom is quite excited to see the hedgehog. we might have to take a field trip soon. she also wanted to see the ferrets but i think i managed to talk her out of that.

i feel bad about the hamster skin remark already, so i'm with michele i guess.

Posted by: didofoot at June 14, 2004 11:28 AM

you can't really avoid seeing (smelling) the ferrets if you enter my house. sooo...yeah.

Posted by: michele at June 14, 2004 11:37 AM

Nod, Dianna.
You are a model veagan.
Understanding, rational, compassionate, firm in your beliefs, but tolerant of others (when the other's beliefs aren't being gratuitously flaunted just for cruelty's sake as they were in this case).
I am tempted to write a post of my own in praise of you. You are my favorite veagan.

Posted by: kati at June 14, 2004 12:15 PM

Kati, thank you for the nod etc. I feel much less like slapping people now. I'm blushing enough already, though, so no praise posts, please.

Heheheheh... aboot. Heheheh. He vigorously denies that he actually says aboot. He says, in fact, that it's totally oot of the question. And then Jacob and I laugh our asses off. Perhaps I'm not one to talk about the mocking after all.

Aboot the mocking, I mean.

Posted by: Dianna at June 14, 2004 01:19 PM

I think this is not a unique situation, and that's sad. I don't know what it is about vegetarianism/veganism that tends to provoke this kind of misguided taunting, but it shows up a lot. Why some of my fellow omnivores feel threatened by those who abstain from animal products is a mystery. Maybe it's rooted in guilt - revelling in the smooth leather of a mousepad to try to distract oneself from the shame of it all.

Many people seem eager to discover and point out any possible hypocrisy in veggies/vegans. My friend Allen used to wear a pair of leather boots, a holdover from before he was vegan. The boots consistently produced smirks and delighted grins from those who wanted to expose him as a fraud, never mind that throwing the boots away would be even more wasteful of animal products.

Regardless, you don't see people flaunting bacon-eating in front of Jews, or coffee-drinking around Gene, or at least I don't think you do. In conclusion, Canada is for chumps.

Posted by: sean at June 14, 2004 01:22 PM

i totally flaunt bacon in front of jason who is both a jew AND a vegetarian. and then i make scathing comments about bacon bits, which he loves. but then also i give him large containers of bacon bits as a random gift.

in conclusion: i am a contradiction. but not canadian.

Posted by: michele at June 14, 2004 01:28 PM

i try not to flaunt coffee at gene, but i do manage to offer chocolate to christine EVERY TIME I SEE HER. i'm pretty sure this is an accident though.

Posted by: didofoot at June 14, 2004 01:33 PM

Coffee? Chocolate?

This must be allergy territory. Am I right?

Sean, I think you're right that it's not an unusual situation. That's what I was hoping for an insightful comment on... what is it about veggie-ism that makes it such a target? I suppose it's a mystery. Or guilt. That works too.

In conclusion, dear god why is it not 4:30 yet please have mercy I feel my soul being crushed by Excel spreadsheets and sudden terrifying paper shortages help help get me out of here help.

Posted by: Dianna at June 14, 2004 03:54 PM

speaking for myself, I torment vegans, political acitivists, and nuns because I worry that if left to themselves they might start to feel in some way morally superior to me, and I can't have that. I prove my own moral superiority by being ruthlessly cruel.

Posted by: didofoot at June 14, 2004 03:58 PM

Do you also take candy away from small children and throw it on the ground? I'm just asking.

Posted by: Dianna at June 14, 2004 03:59 PM

4:30, here i come! it's just us now till closing time, dianna. damn that kristen girl who gets to leave at 4. but then again also damn me for not having to be at work till 9. muah-ha-ha-ha!

Posted by: michele at June 14, 2004 04:10 PM

damn you both because it's 4:57 and I still have to sit here for 3 more minutes.

Posted by: Jolie at June 14, 2004 04:58 PM

dianna i would answer your question but i am late for my appointment to kick some puppies.

Posted by: didofoot at June 14, 2004 08:03 PM

If I was allergic to chocolate, no one would flaunt the consumption of chocolate in front of me or make fun of me for it. This is because I would be in prison due to having vivisected the first person who had mocked me for such a cruel and debilitating condition.

Posted by: Chris at June 14, 2004 09:47 PM

I'm entirely too late to be joining this conversation, but I'll do it anyway: a leather mousepad doesn't seem terribly practical, though I have no particular problem with leather...I guess that a ball'd mouse would grip well. I use to have one of those holographic 'pads but it wreaked havoc with my laser mouse (would you expect a reflective/refractive piece of plastic to interfere with an optical device? crazy). Flaunting is horrible, which is probably why I do it at every opportunity. What else? Oh, and I just got back from work. Check the timestamp. Refer to discussions regarding my tool-ness on my blog. That about does it. G'night everybody!

Posted by: Erik at June 14, 2004 10:44 PM

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I'm enough of a bourgie-pig that if I were walking through IKEA and saw a leather mousepad, I'd probably buy it. It's my eventual goal for my entire home office to be constructed out of glass, brushed steel, leather and black lacquered wood. Does that make me a bad person? Probably, but oh well. I can blame it on being corrupted by my surroundings. I work on the Upper East Side. If I was working in some hole in the wall political book shop reading slam poetry on open mike night in Alphabet city, I'd probably feel much differently.

Posted by: Clint at June 14, 2004 10:57 PM

Good lord, Erik, you ARE a tool.

Clint, I'd say, "Good lord, you ARE a bourgie-pig," but I don't know you well enough for it to seem appropriate. Brushed steel, glass and black lacquered wood are all nice. I'm for those. But the possibilities inherent in black microfiber upholstery and/or synthetic leather are really quite excellent.

And Chris, I'm currently picturing you in a straitjacket in solitary confinement flailing frantically around your cell and gibbering about chocolate. I wouldn't dare taunt you with it for fear of losing limbs. Actually, that applies even if you're not allergic and insane. You're a dangerous man around desserts.

Posted by: Dianna at June 15, 2004 09:48 AM

Black microfiber upholstery and/or synthetic leather?!? You've helped me see the light!!! Hallelujah!!!

Posted by: Clint at June 15, 2004 11:17 AM

AAAAAHHHHH! Oh god, the punctuation's got me! Not the face! NOT THE FAAAAACE!

This post brought to you by having no freakin' clue what you meant by that, Clint.

Posted by: Dianna at June 15, 2004 01:23 PM