A Slightly Wrong Choice of Words at Work: Or, Watch How You Talk About My Black-Eyed Peas

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Good Evening:

For New Year’s Day, I cooked black-eyed peas and ham hocks (not the blasphemous vegan version I had invented), which my Louisiana co-worker had told me is a traditional good luck dish of the American South. She did the same for her New Year’s Day, and today we discussed the results in front of three of my co-workers. Since I had never prepared the dish before, I did a few things which left her shocked, dismayed and disgusted.

She said, “Oh, man, you don’t know anything about black-eyed peas! You got leftovers?”

“Sure.”

“Tomorrow, you and I are bringing in samples so I can show what you did wrong. You and I are going to have a pea-ing contest!”

At which point my three co-workers and I dropped our jaws and stared at her wide-eyed.

“What’s wrong with you people?”

I said, “You might want to reword what you said.”

“What, ‘pea-ing contest?!’…Oh…Ohhhh. Oh, my. We’re going to have a black-eyed pea contest!”

I will almost certainly lose, but it was already worth it.

Vonn Scott Bair

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