“Hey, I stand for things,” I said. “I feel ways about stuff. Look at my columns! I’m not writing controversial stuff like that for the fun of it.”

“I don’t think that’s you standing for anything,” Karen replied. “I think it’s you being deliberately contrary to stir up a hornet’s nest so you can feel smug and superior.”

“That’s…definitely an unusual thing to say when being deliberately contrary’s paying for the meal.”

“See?” said Karen. “Someone with a pulse talks back, you’re caught in person, and you immediately backpedal. If you really cared about that shit, Eric, you’d be meeting me blow for blow over it.”

“And what about you?” I finally had to say. “Reaming me out like this? If you feel so strongly, why aren’t you writing a column? If you think I’m such a cynic, why’d you even come?”

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