If you don’t like my handkerchief…

Recently, I was at a party enjoying some social libations and a game of crokinole, when I felt the need to blow my nose. I pulled out my handkerchief and let fly. A girl to my left looked upon my person with revulsion, and said, “You use a snot-rag? Disgusting!”

I looked at this girl for a moment, thinking of something cruel to say to her stupid face. Much came to mind, though I held my tongue. Instead, I just shrugged, and said, “Yep. So what?” She had much to extol on her opinion of “snot-rags,” and I listened, nodding attentively. Nothing she said, however, could convince me that I was in the wrong to use one.

The popular alternative to handkerchiefs, of course, are disposable tissue papers, millions upon millions of tons of which are manufactured annually, from virgin wood or recycled fiber, only to be tossed into a landfill after a single use. Personally, I am no fan of waste, much less waste created solely by wiping secretions from my face.

Perhaps some folks would like to forget about the nasty juices their body creates, but if it comes at the cost of millions of tons of needless waste, count me out. Short of employing the classic “farmer’s blow” to clear one’s nose (which is not acceptable indoors), a handkerchief is the only environmentally ethical choice available. You can argue with me on this one, but I’m unlikely to budge.

Another opinion I hold which I am unlikely to budge on any time soon is that hamburgers are disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a barbeque as much as the next guy, only I prefer to roast bean patties rather than beef. Many of my best friends will regularly scarf these beef burgers down in my presence though, and while morally I don’t believe they are in the right to do so, I don’t let it bother me.

My point is that I never castigate a buddy who’s chomping down on a burger, despite the fact that the thought of eating such a thing disgusts me to the bottom of my being. While I’ve often been questioned by self-proclaimed “meat-a-tarians” on my dietary choices, and will answer any such questions gladly, I have found that it is useless to stand on my principles and try to beat a beef eater about the head with my particular beliefs surrounding food.

Now, by the previous admission, you might be taken aback to know that my musical preference leans heavily to the country and western. Of course, I still listen to punk, rock and roll, dad rock and the occasional side or two of Venom, but the only musical styling which I listen to on a daily basis is country. Period.

I’ve heard many friends, associates and random conversationalists state, unequivocally, that they listen to “any music, but not country.” When I tell them that I am almost the opposite, some are shocked, some interested but most just turn away. That’s fine. It’s better — far better, in fact — than someone trying to argue me into a corner about how much country music sucks, or how much some dumbfuck band is better than some other dipshit group.

Musical preference, more than anything, is something that is useless to argue over. You like what you like, and that’s the bottom line. As for me, I side with Kris Kristopherson; you can listen to whatever you choose, “but if you don’t like Hank Williams, honey, you can kiss my ass.”

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Who cares about this shit?” Who cares, indeed? Opinions, such as they are, are something people hold for themselves, for any number of reasons. If someone disagrees with your opinion, who cares? Not me.

What I enjoy about editing people’s opinions and preparing this section every week is learning what issues people on campus (and off) care enough about to spend the time to write an article on. I believe the “respectful exchange of ideas,” on campus as well as within our society as a whole, to be fundamental to a functional democracy.

However, when that exchange loses the “respectful” aspect, it generally devolves into a tennis match of opposing opinions “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” At that point, friends, almost anyone in shouting distance is bound to lose interest in the exchange, and wander off to greener pastures.

Few of my friends use handkerchiefs, and most eat hamburgers. On these points, we agree to disagree. This is great, because we have a lot of laughs, and are willing and able to help each other out at the drop of a hat (or the opening of a case of beer). If you find, as an adult in society, that you cannot agree to disagree with somebody on a matter of opinion and move on . . . Well, sir or madam, that’s worse than not liking Hank Williams.

Sheldon Birnie is Comment Editor at the Manitoban.