Sweet, Sour and Weirdos: Recipe for Peace

By Guest Contributor

I believe in a strong correlation between rules and the game of sweet or sour. If you have ever played the game — and with a mom who rolled around the carpool circles in a station wagon, I have played my fair share of sweet or sour — you know that in theory it’s very simple: wave equals sweet, no wave equals sour. The same simplicity goes for rule making: bad equals rule against it, good equals rule for it or an assumption of innate human benevolence and no mention of it.

In practice however, it seems unfair to deem a fellow traveler sour simply because they happened to be looking at the car in front of them and not at the eight-year old kid wearing headgear in the trunk of the car a lane over. To accommodate the range of possibilities, I added two new categories: weirdos and nose-pickers. In the running tally that came to span almost four pages in my Lisa Frank notebook, weirdos were always the clear leader. Later analysis of the data explains the disproportionate amount of weirdos on the road from my house to the swimming pool. The weirdos were the default bunch. If your mouth was moving and your head had the misfortune of being in between your cell phone and me: automatic weirdo. Head-banging to the music you can hear but I can’t? Weirdo.

In the same way that these unassuming Saabs and Hondas drove past my car, ideas float around in an atmosphere free of judgment, not ascribed as good or bad. They exist in this neutral environment until they are plucked and placed into an earthly book of rules. Everyone has their own rule book; some may be more heavily influenced by authorities than others. In the government’s rule book, for example, alcohol gets a yes and marijuana gets a no. Pharmaceuticals say yes to Oxycodone and no to heroin. Because human existence can be a cruel, cruel thing, we are forced to live with zillions of other people each toting around their personalized law books. My latest clash took place in a movie theater.

There was a lady behind me who tapped my shoulder to inform me that the movie I was staring at was starting and asked if the unique sitting-on-lap seating arrangement was going to last. Apparently, she found the 2:1 person to chair ratio that I thought was reasonable deeply offensive. Instead of launching into a sincere lamentation on why people in movie theaters don’t scoot to the center of the rows when it results in a theater peppered with sad loner seats that I can only imagine would be the bane of any movie-loving Siamese twins’ existence, I politely asked if she could not see. I would have been happy to move if this was the case, although it would have meant parting with the bag of popcorn my sister and I were sharing. She turned to her friend whose position behind me made her the more qualified theater etiquette enforcer anticipating a tag team dismantling of my radical behavior.

I would imagine it going like, “Yeah, you’re blocking my view of Bradley Cooper’s dreamy face.”

“Yeah, my friend paid good money to see Bradley Cooper’s dreamy face so she has the right to see it.”

“Yeah, scram you two-headed freak.”

“Yeah, scram.”

If I was a real stickler, I would have informed her that I too paid good money to see Bradley Cooper’s dreamy face and it was not my job to make sure she did the same. What if I had a giant afro? Or what if I was Yao Ming? I would use this tangible line of questioning to showcase the inevitable potential for disturbance that seeing a movie with 100 other people (and their accompanying rule books) poses.

The tag team fell flat when her friend shrugged in her arms crossed, slouched, I’m-not-about-to-miss-the-essential-exposé-of-this-Oscar-nominee-of-a-film-so-you-can-tear-apart-the-bonds-of-sisterhood position. “I can see,” she said. And I win.

I proceeded to thoroughly enjoy “Silver Linings Playbook” with my 21 year-old sister perched on my lap. The movie dealt with a lot of truths and lies, offering numerous cues for me to turn around and tell the sister-hater my true thoughts and maybe add on that I hope she gives birth to Siamese twins, but I refrained.

Her law book is different than mine. Her sweet is my sour. I accepted her status in the wonderfully ambiguous weirdo category and moved on.

Written by MEREDITH WHITE ’15 of Orinda, Calif.