There are a few things you don’t discuss in a bar after midnight. Politics is one of them.

I didn’t think I even needed to say that, until the other night.

I started talking to a very good-looking Eastern European man. His name was something like Yitzchak, but that wasn’t it. I don’t remember what it actually was.

We chatted about nice things, appropriate for a bar on a Saturday night, and then things turned to the 2016 election.

It’s hard to avoid talking politics in an election year. I’m from DC. I’m used to that conversation. And in this absurd election, it’s even harder to stay away from discussing Hillary v. Trump (and maybe Bernie) than usual. But it’s really not appropriate casual convo, drunk, with strangers.

“I wish I could just vote for nobody,” the attractive man said. “Have nobody run the country.”

Hold up.

Tangent.

The man who sells me cigarettes at the bodega on my corner is from Yemen. Recently, his kids and his wife came to New York.

“That must have been a huge culture shock,” I said to him, when he told me they were in New York. “How are the kids taking it?”

“They’re so happy,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about being killed.”

And that was a major “check your privilege” moment for me.

I hate that phrase. I think it’s usually used by thoughtless progressives to dismiss dissenting thoughts and opinions without even trying to educate the dissenter about why they’re wrong or ignorant. But in this case – I had been thinking about how these kids were from some third world environment and suddenly transplanted into New York City. I was thinking about the fact that they were thrown into New York public school without knowing a word of English.

I wasn’t thinking about how they were, for the first time in their young lives, actually safe from violence and bombs. How they actually had the chance to sleep through the night or go to school without worrying about these things. When my bodega friend mentioned that his kids were just happy to be fundamentally, physically safe, I couldn’t believe how much I took for granted.

And that was what I thought about when this man told me that he wished that nobody ran America.

“Really?” I said. “I mean, I think we often forget just how safe and stable we are in this country. No one running the country would be a disaster.”

“America has already been at war since World War II,” he said.

“Whoa,” I said. “I don’t agree with that. But let’s just agree to disagree.”

And then his tone shifted from friendly to aggressive.

“There’s nothing to disagree about,” the man said. “This is a fact. Google it.”

“Like I said,” I repeated, “I’d really rather not discuss this.”

“Just Google it,” the man said again.

I’d like to take the space to mention, here, that men not respecting boundaries always makes me feel a little bit unsafe. Even if I’m just saying, “Listen, let’s not talk about that,” being bullied into talking about things I don’t want to talk about isn’t that far away from pressuring me into taking my clothes off when I don’t want to get naked. Maybe that’s just my baggage; my vulnerabilities based on my past. But I think too many men dismiss boundaries that women set by refusing to take no for an answer, and that always feels dangerous to me.

“I’m not going to discuss this any further,” I said, one more time.

“Get out of your coddled little bubble,” the man said, practically spitting his words at me. “Experience the real world.”

“Whoa, dude,” I said. “Don’t start with me. You have no idea what I’ve been through.”

And it was true. Without getting into details, I’m fairly confident that beautiful blond man had not been through nearly as much as I have experienced. I’ve seen a lot. My readers know that. My friends know that even better.

And maybe this is unfair. But he’s a white man. I’m gonna assume he hasn’t. Maybe I’m doing the same thing he was – assuming that another person has never experienced the world as I have. But, at the very least, he shouldn’t have assumed as much about me.

Anyway, that was enough for me. I stood up, told him to go fuck himself, and walked out of the bar.

“Have a good night, sweetheart,” he said, as I walked out.

And he laughed. Because, of course, I had no idea what I was talking about. Obviously. I’m just an ignorant little girl who has spent too much time in my own little bubble.

So, friends, if you’re wondering whether the US has been at war since 1939? Just Google it. It’s a fact.

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