I love this. It’s what? I hate that!

When we were kids, we spent a lot of our summer days at home, playing in the pool and jumping on the trampoline. And nearly every day, Mom would make sandwiches for our lunch, which she served outside on the patio picnic table. Those sandwiches were usually lunch meat: bologna, salami, or something similar, along with Miracle Whip and some lettuce, and maybe other stuff. The details are a little foggy now, 45 years later.

I do recall that at some point Mom began making the sandwiches with leaf spinach rather than lettuce. One day, after several days of eating these slightly modified sandwiches, my youngest sister, Melody, commented: “Mom, I really like this new lettuce!” That was a mistake.

You see, of the five of us, the three oldest (myself included) knew that the “new lettuce” was actually spinach. I’m not sure about Marie, who’s a year younger than I, but I know for certain that Melody, the youngest, had no idea that she had been eating spinach for the last few days. And of course my brother and I thought it was our duty to educate our sister. I’m not sure which one of us actually said, “That ‘new lettuce’ is actually leaf spinach.”

Melody looked up at us skeptically (we might have played some tricks on her before), and then looked at Marilyn (oldest sister) for confirmation. Marilyn had already done a face-palm, knowing what the reaction was going to be, and Melody took that as confirmation. She put her sandwich down and said, “Ewwww. I hate spinach!” She wouldn’t finish her sandwich and for weeks after that she’d carefully inspect whatever was put in front of her to ensure that Mom wasn’t trying to sneak something by. If she didn’t recognize it, she wouldn’t eat it.

Understand, Melody was maybe five or six years old at the time. So I guess I can cut her some slack.

Back in the late ’90s, a friend came to visit, and Debra and I took her to have sushi. Our friend liked a particular type of sushi roll, and was excited to be having it again. I don’t remember exactly which roll it was, but one of the things she really liked about it was the crunchy texture and the taste of the masago (capelin roe) that was on the outside of the roll. Since she liked sushi and was ecstatic about having that roll, I figured she knew what she was eating. So I said something about fish eggs.

Her response was worse than Melody’s: she put down the piece she was holding, spit out what was in her mouth, and then drank a whole glass of water to get rid of the taste. This was after she’d already eaten two pieces of the roll while enthusiastically telling us how much she liked it. But after she found out that masago is fish eggs, she wouldn’t touch another bite.

Since then, I’ve seen similar reactions from many other people. I call it the, “I love this. It’s what? I hate that!” reaction. I can almost understand it with food, because I’ve been in the position of being told what something was after I ate it, and I felt the internal turmoil of having eaten something that I probably wouldn’t have eaten had I known what it was beforehand. But I can’t at all understand that reaction when applied to other things. Politics, for example.

I’ve actually seen conversations that went something like this:

Person 1: “That’s a really good idea.”

Person 2: “Yeah, when President Obama proposed it, I ….”

Person 1: “Obama proposed it? What a stupid idea!”

And, of course, several years ago I saw similar conversations, but with “Bush” replacing “Obama.”

I would find it funny if it weren’t so common. It seems as though, when it comes to politics, a large fraction of the American public is more interested in who the ideas come from than if the ideas have any merit. We call that “tribalism.” It’s stupid in the extreme.