In a peak behind the thin curtain of compulsory social decorum, two party guests having a playful debate about pickles last Friday were discovered to both be internally despairing over the state of the nation throughout the interaction.
“When I was first introduced to Cherry at our mutual friend’s birthday party, I was just looking for non-depressing words to say,” said one participant in the conversation, Jaime Joslin. “Then we overheard someone order a pickleback, and that really got the ball rolling.”
“Ugh, I hate pickles!” said Cherry Randall, who was at the time contemplating the absence of any mention of wildfires in California or global rising temperatures in the president’s State of the Union speech. “Who would willingly drink that?”
“Are you kidding me? You can’t hate all pickles, that is a prejudiced statement,” replied Jaime, who was thinking about the fact that children are dying from treatable illnesses at the border, and really doesn’t give a fuck whether Cherry likes pickles or not.
While the acquaintances were in a state of prolonged misery beneath the surface, onlookers were utterly convinced by their charade of lighthearted normalcy.
“When I saw those two giggling and giving each other a hard time about cornichon, I was pretty envious,” said the host, Teresa Qi. “I’ve been too bummed out by this dead-end impeachment process and the Iowa bullshit to even function at fun small talk. And it’s my birthday!”
Little did the birthday girl know, her friends are both dead inside.
“Okay, maybe this is a texture issue. Have you ever tried pickle flavor potato chips?” offered Jaime, shuddering with dread as their phone lit up with a New York Times notification on the table.
“Like I’m going to desecrate something as delicious as potato chips with something as disgusting as pickles,” Cherry fired back jovially, eyes glazing over with actual disgust at the state of the country, and, more generally, the world.
“Fine, I’ll offer a ceasefire!” Jaime ‘laughed’. “It’s all good.”