Letting Go Of The Hate

I used to think hating Diablo Cody was only a regional pasttime. This is, after all, an area lousy with writers who have not written Writers Guild of America award-winning screenplays or gotten incredibly rich and famous or appeared on David Letterman. And sometimes, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, I swear you can hear about 500 of them grumbling: I wrote for City Pages once years ago. . . .and I could have been some skanky sex worker if I were willing to stoop that low. . . .and every single one of those screenplays sitting on my closet shelf is about a million times better than Juno.

Of course no one says exactly this. They jeer at her nom de plume and make fun of the length of her skirts and talk about how Juno — a sweet, decent film in a year full of overblown, overdone losers — sucked anyway. If Cody wins an Oscar, I imagine the gnashing and retching will go on in our local writing community (and believe me, I use that phrase loosely) for years to come.

Now, however, I come to find that the irrational antipathy for Cody has spread. In an article in Slate, writer Dana Stevens describes how what I previously thought of as a Minnesota phenomenon exists from coast to coast. People all over the world, apparently, hate D.C. and her movie (which, by the way, has grossed over $100 million, so some people must like it. . . ). And despite a mostly even-handed exposition of the whole controversy, Stevens herself even gets in a few digs.

In a strangely similar turn of events, it seems Hillary Clinton hating is on an upswing as well. Now, the Bush-Cheney set has always hated Hillary. (Since the day she announced her candidacy, my father has called her "Billary" — which causes me to grind my teeth practically into dust each time we’re seated next to one another at Sunday dinner.) But here’s a new twist: now, just as with Cody, it is Clinton’s putative fellow thinkers who are spewing the most bile.

In "Hate Springs Eternal," his column in the New York Times yesterday, political commentator Paul Krugman wrote, "I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody."

What’s going on here? We’ve got two immensely talented women — and I’m not going to make this a gender thing, because I truly don’t think it is — being reviled as sport. Why? Jesus, I don’t know. Pure envy in the first case, it seems. Zealous and cult-like political behavior [and let me say, I think this has little to do with Obama himself] in the other.

Now, listen my children: You should know that hate — whatever its genesis — will curdle your blood and cause painful ingrown hairs. It leads to cancer and shingles and bad posture. And more important, it’s just bad juju for the rest of us, making this world an uglier place in which to live. So stop it!

And why should you listen to me? Because, I’m going to lead by example. I, too, have allowed hatred to creep into my heart. But I’ve seen the light and banished the darkness from my soul. I. . . .are you ready for this?. . . .have returned to Trader Joe’s.

Back in November, I wrote about their trademark wine, Three-Buck Chuck, in a post that began, "Have I mentioned how much I hate Trader Joe’s?" Well shame on me! I have been guilty of doing the devil’s work with my foul words. What’s more, I’ve actually, sort of, in a sense changed my mind.

It all started one day last week when I got a craving for white cheddar popcorn. One of my guilty secrets — even back when my soul was sullied — was my love for the snacky popcorn products available only at Trader Joe’s. So at 3 in the afternoon, I drove over to get a bag. And while I was there, I stopped into the wine shop and picked up an $8 2006 Bordeaux from Chateau Michel de Vert.

It had a nice label. And we’re working on saving money, my husband and I, particularly where wine is concerned. What the hell, I thought. And I trotted home with my white cheddar popcorn, which I ate immediately, and wine, which I uncorked around six o’clock.

I was dismayed even as I poured. The wine had a thin purplish color I didn’t quite like. And it tasted. . . awful. A combination of fireplace ash and cough syrup. I took a swallow, gave my husband one. Then we stuck the cork back in and opened a bottle of the Portuguese wine I was raving about last week that we now buy by the case.

I had planned to absorb the eight dollar loss and call it a lesson: Trader Joe’s is vile (unless you need a popcorn fix). But then, I recalled something vaguely. I’d heard a rumor, once, that TJ would take back any product for any reason. All you had to do was show up and demand your money back.

I was skeptical even so. I called the manager to ask, Could I return a bottle of wine that wasn’t corked or heat-damaged or in any other way defective, simply because it wasn’t to my taste?

"Absolutely!" he said. "Just look for me."

And so I did. Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed that old, warm bottle, took it back without so much as a receipt, and the manager — no questions asked — handed me my money. So pleased was I, it seemed natural to pick up yet another ultra-cheap Bordeaux: Les Caves Joseph 2005, which sells for (you’re sitting down, right?) $5.99.

Was it special? Er, no. But what do you expect for six bucks. It was a spot-on average table wine, sweet and decent (much like Juno!), with a cherry-ish flavor and a little bit of rough wood.

So. Heed this story. I have seen the light, given up my hatred, and cleansed my spirit with a profoundly mediocre French wine. If I could, I’d buy a thousand bottles, get all the writers and rabid Obama supporters I know, and put them all together in a room. I see a big, diverse Bachannalian event. An orgy of the liberal and literati. All cheaply lubricated, thanks to Trader Joe’s.