Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and have no idea how you got there? Sure, it happens all the time. We’re so focused on multitasking due to an infinite number of immediate deadlines of projects you didn’t even know existed that we keep trying to get something done, even in the middle of an office visit. But those aren’t the ones I’m talking about.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good divergence in a conversation. To me that makes it a conversation rather than a lecture. I’m pretty good at these, too, if I may say so. I’m also pretty well known for them. I can get into a conversation, take it in spirals and jut off to the side, but I always like to bring it back and virtually smack the other conversation participants with a shocking link back to the topic at hand. It also serves well to extend the conversation, since due to my highly caffeinated state at any given time, many of my comments are not caught at first, and only hours later on the drive home do people realize what I’ve said. (I find that to be much safer for me in the long run, too.)
But there’s always the one conversation that you’re an active participant in (or audience member of, depending on the conversation) that you honestly just can’t follow. I get at least one of these every other day. It used to be several every day, but due to office rearranging, it’s been cut down due to sheer logistics. Had it not been planned I would have required it be changed. It was getting a bit out of hand. Once every other day is much more manageable. But Mondays, … Mondays are tough.
Today’s topic began over honey. I didn’t start it. I’m not a foodie. I don’t cook. I don’t appreciate fine foods. I don’t even grocery shop for the most part. Unless I have a list, I cannot be trusted in a grocery store. But this person, even though she knows this, continues to discuss food shopping, fruits, recipes with me. No, wait, discuss is NOT the wrong word, with is. She carries on full conversations, both sides, with me in the room. Every once in a while I will interject something, but it typically ends up with me getting yelled at. Not that that doesn’t happen if I don’t interject, either. I’ve ended up having to defend myself in a “conversation” without ever having said a word. But as I said, today’s topic was honey.
She started it with “Honey is good for you; it’s good for your cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes.”
“I don’t have diabetes,” I said.
“So what, if you did it would be good for you,” was the response. Ok. Point taken. I remained quiet for a bit. The discussion continued. “Honey is great; it’s a natural sweetener and is a great substitute for sugar, which is important. But I don’t like the taste of honey,” she continued, “so I have to get the stuff from the Amish farmer’s market where the guy sells the creamed honey. Have you ever had creamed honey?” She doesn’t wait for a response or even a nod. “Well, I can’t believe you’ve never had it,” she goes on, voice rising to a slight lilt, “it’s amazing, it tastes like cinnamon toast without the sugar.”
“I thought it was sweet,” I stupidly interjected.
“It IS sweet, that’s what makes it a natural sweetener, aren’t you listing?” She huffs, and then goes on. “It’s a great topping on ice cream too, you should try it.”
“Well I don’t imagine that’s good for your diabetes.” I answered.
“What do ya mean? I JUST said honey is good for diabetes,” she came back at me.
“No, I was referring to the ice cream. I don’t think that’s good for your diabetes.” I thought I was being a smart ass. Apparently I was wrong.
“Ice cream is fine for diabetes. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s bad for your cholesterol, though,” she laughs, and even snorted a bit.
Despite knowing I would somehow be utterly and completely wrong, I could not stop the response as it rolled out of my mouth (that happens to me a lot, by the way.) “Well, yes, it’s clearly not a health food for cholesterol issues, but the sugar in ice cream was what I was referring to when I mentioned that it probably wasn’t good for your diabetes,” I responded, I thought with obvious information.
“That’s ridiculous, there’s hardly any sugar in ice cream,” she said. “Besides, I eat Haagen Daz, the good stuff,” she said in a snooty condescending tone, “they make it with REAL heavy cream, so there’s not much sugar needed at all. Where do you get your information, there’s not a lot of sugar in ice cream.”
I thought back on my experience, having spent nearly a decade writing medical education programs for diabetes initiatives, not to mention cardiology programs as well. Oddly enough, the topic of Haagen Daz ice cream arose for both, especially when the programs involved round table discussions with physicians. But my extensive background in medical and scientific education, as it specifically related to diabetes, was wrong, as I was about to find out. I chose to not respond.
“Have you ever made ice cream?” she asked.
“Once. I think I was 9,” I answered.
“And how much sugar did you put in it?” she asked snarkily.
“I don’t recall, I was 9,” I answered sheepishly, starting to question my entire view on ice cream despite a vivid memory of about 13 cups of sugar going into the mix.
“Well if you don’t recall, you shouldn’t say there’s a lot of sugar in ice cream, because there isn’t,” she rattled off like a machine gun, disappointingly. “There isn’t. You have to get good ice cream, not that cheap crap you eat.”
I hadn’t mentioned a brand of ice cream I eat, but that was immaterial to her rant. “The good stuff’s got less sugar in it.”
I didn’t believe a word she said and made a mental note to Google sugar in Haagen Daz later, not to challenge her on, but just to reassure myself that this utterly bizarro conversation hadn’t transported me to a planet of the apes-like realm of existence. (1/2 cup has over 20g sugar in it, but let’s be honest, who the hell eats only a half cup of ice cream?! According to the picture that’s just under 6 sugar cubes. I’m not in bizarro world, there is a lot of sugar in ice cream.)
She was still talking. I didn’t catch pieces of what she was saying but tuned back in as she said, “But, if you add Hershey’s syrup to it, then it’s got a bit more sugar, but it tastes even better.”
“Is that with the honey or without?” I asked, innocently curious to her strange concoction of dessert.
“Creamed honey, but it doesn’t matter, it’s good with or without it, as long as there’s Hershey’s syrup, but that’s just worse for my cholesterol and blood pressure,” she added, regarding her veritable health food habits.
“Actually, if you get the dark chocolate syrup, it’s probably better for your cholesterol and blood pressure since dark chocolate is good for those,” I stupidly added, inadvertently continuing the conversation.
“Well of course it’s dark, that’s how they make it,” she answered as if talking to a mentally challenged 2 year old.
“No, actually,” I noted slowly, carefully picking my words, “Hershey’s syrup comes in Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate varieties. If you had to pick a healthier one, the dark chocolate variety would be the better one.”
“It IS dark, they are BOTH dark, so they’re BOTH fine. Duh.” Yes, she actually said duh. “The MILK chocolate is only MILK chocolate when you add it to MILK, not ice cream. Don’t you get it? Wow, you don’t know food stuff at all, do you?” she came back with.
My head felt like I just slurped up a slushie in one suck. I think my eyes actually started to water due to shock.
“No,” was all I could say, in a defeated hushed tone.
* * * * * * * * * *
Then the phone rang and the floundering on the open seas of insanity was coming to an end as a co-worker saw the situation and went into action, calling me into a make-believe meeting to get me out of my office and out of the conversation.
She had a cup of tea waiting for me to help take the brain-freeze chill out. Thankfully it didn’t have honey in it.