Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Menace of the Mexican Melons

A bit of reporting from the public opinion front lines:

Scanning the produce section in our Local Stop and Shop store yesterday morning, I couldn't help overhearing the shouted questions of a big burly guy with a stubbly gray beard and a baseball cap (bearing a slight resemblance to Michael Moore) to the clerk on duty:

BURLY GUY: Was this lettuce born in America?

CLERK: Yeah.

BURLY GUY: What about this melon? Smells great, but where's it from?

CLERK: I dunno, I'll have to check.

I rolled my cart over towards the Burly Guy.

ME: Excuse me, I'm just curious. How come you want to know where the produce comes from?

BURLY GUY: Because I don't want to buy anything from Mexico.

ME: Oh yeah? How come?

BURLY GUY: 'Cause of everything--the illegal immigration, the drugs . . . the other day they arrested two Americans [rising tone of outrage] because they shot a drug dealer coming over the border! Don't you listen to Lou Dobbs?

ME: [Getting the drift and beginning to edge away] Uh, once in a while.

BURLY GUY: [Laughing] He's driving me crazy! [Surprising bit of self-awareness there, wouldn't you say?] And now you've got me going, early in the morning!

ME: [Chuckling uneasily] Well, it's Christmas time. A good time to think about peace and harmony . . .

BURLY GUY: [Now muttering in a tone of annoyance] Yeah, but those nuts won't even let us say Merry Christmas! [I don't think he was talking about the Mexicans at this point.] It's gotta be Happy Holidays!

ME: [Fleeing to the deli counter] Hey, you can feel free to say Merry Christmas as far as I'm concerned. Have one on me . . .

Later that morning, while rolling my cart down the dairy aisle, I bumped into Burly Guy again, and we greeted each other as buddies. By this time, the obvious counter-argument to Burly Guy's personal boycott had occurred to me--namely, that damaging the Mexican economy is not exactly the best way to discourage immigration to the United States. But I didn't launch a debate with Burly Guy, just got a quart of heavy cream to make ice cream for Christmas Eve and beat a hasty retreat. Maybe he'll read this post and we can engage the issues of Mexican immigration and the War on Christmas online . . .

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