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Friday, 25 May 2012

In Which I Boycott Everything

Last night at dinner the wine on our table was a bottle of  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It was an inexpensive table wine: nice, drinkable, not a whole lot of finish or body to it, but still it tastes all right.  Certainly good enough for a quiet unassuming dinner at home for two.  Yet the bottle mocked me. It sat there dripping with condensation, smirking and glassy while I ate because the New Zealand government had profited a little from the small amount of money we spent on the wine and was using that money to denormalise smokers.  It pissed me off, it did.

"You know what," I said to my wife, who I think was expecting me to say the meal she had made was delicious and lovely (it was) and thank you honey, you're the greatest (she is), and I love you (I do).  Well, I like to keep her on her toes, you see.  "I'm fucking boycotting both New Zealand and Australian wines.  I'm not having any more of them in this house."

"What --? No, you're not," she said. "I really like this wine. It's better than some of --"

"Too bad. I can't live with the idea of giving these countries my money so they can use it to attack smokers."

"But the winemakers aren't the ones doing it, so why boycott them?"

"The winemakers aren't speaking out against it either." My classic and utterly worthless parry. She tried to interject but I waved a hand to stop her. "Look," I said, softening my tone.  "I know it's not the winemakers fault all of this happening and it could be seen as unfair to them to hurt their business.  But if everyone stopped buying stuff from New Zealand and Australia, we could make a difference and maybe, just maybe, get their governments to reconsider their stances on tobacco control."

It was a good plan.  Boycott every product that Australia and New Zealand exports.  My mind's eye could see it all in motion, churning, ticking away in that clockwork fashion leading to an inevitable result. Two nations held ransom by foreign consumers because of those nations' hateful tobacco control policies.  It would work.  It had to work. What else could we do apart from sending armies there to enforce our will (or more amusingly pissing in Simon Chapman's koi fish pond)?  The only power I have over any business is to choose whether I give them my money.  If businesses don't make money, they go out of business. If enough go out of business, then the government gets less money.  If the government is strapped for cash, they will abandon their prohibition policies. Foolproof.  Fucking brilliant! Yeah?  Hell yeah!

A few moments of silence came over us and it felt like forever. Outside in the distance a sheep baaed -- could have been a lamb, actually.  Instantly I thought of The Silence of the Lambs. "Still hearing those lambs, Clarice?"  Argh! Damn it. Thanks for that, Sir Anthony.  Jerk.  Where was I? Oh, yeah. I forced my attention to the present.  Must focus. Shoo, Anthony!  Begone!  Do not get distracted, Jay. You're winning this one, dude.  You got her on the ropes.  I studied my wife's expression.  I could see her jaw working slowly while she considered her response -- or perhaps she was only chewing her food.  Whatever.  My logic was sound. She had nothing, but I knew she would fight this. Bare knuckles if she had to. She would say something about how pointless a one-man boycott was, and she would be right about that.  I mean, I know it wouldn't make much difference. I could pretend that people would join me even though I know they couldn't be at all bothered.  I could tell myself that at least I was doing something. But still, I would have the moral-fucking-high-ground. King of the bloody fucking hill, baby! So take that, woman!  Pish.

Then, at last, her lips parted a little, a brief intake of air, and I was ready for the onslaught. Bring it!  Come on!  What you got?  I'm ready for anything. 

She shrugged. "Fine. Have your boycott."

I started to defend myself, another parry readied, but I stopped. What the...? I won?  Aw, hell no I didn't. I never win these things.  Something was not right.  She's tricking me.  I dipped a figurative toe in the water.  "I can?" I asked sheepishly.  Outside, the lamb called out to me in solidarity.  Baa.

"But we're never boycotting French wine. You hear me?  Never. Don't even--"

"No, no, no, babe. Of course not.  Wouldn't dream of it, love."  Not like it mattered. The French would probably boycott us first anyway. Right?

That was easy. Nary a scratch. As I savoured my victory and my delicious home-cooked meal made from scratch by my wonderful wife, I began to wonder ... what else could I boycott?