Love Me or Leaf Me

Story Sent in by Jennifer:

Alex and I were on a walk after a light lunch on our first date. We headed nowhere in particular, and it was a sunny and aromatic spring day.

As we turned one corner, further into a neighborhood, the smell of flowers and trees became even stronger. We passed by a yard with a wooden fence and a hickory leaf stuck between two of the slats, out towards the sidewalk. Alex tapped his fingers along the fence as we walked, and pulled at the leaf, snapped it off, and carried it as we continued.

"Do you know what kind of leaves these are?" he asked me.

I had worked in a greenhouse for a little less than a year, and so had learned some botany. I said, "That's a hickory leaf."

He shook the branch lightly and said, "Leaves. There's more than one."

I replied, "Those are actually leaflets. They're all growing from the same stem, so what you have there is considered a single, compound leaf."

He smiled. "Bullshit. There's more than one leaf. They're leaves. End of story."

I said, "It's just one compound leaf."

He picked one of the leaflets off the branch and stuck it into my face. "More than one!" he said, "Leaves!"

I backed away slightly and said, "It's really not worth an argument. Calm down."

He picked off another leaflet from the branch. "Leaves!" he said, then held them up in front of me, "Leaves! More than one leaf! Plain as day."


"They didn't teach you how to count at the greenhouse?"

I replied, "You can look it up! Hickory trees have compound leaves! It's really not worth all of this—"

He took out his smartphone and looked it up, right there. His smirk turned into a frown as he discovered that I was, astoundingly, correct.

"Well?" I asked him after a good long while. I wanted to keep moving and was tired of the discussion.

He said, "I'm still looking. Everything I find is stupid and wrong."

"Do they say that hickories have compound leaves?"

No answer from him. I waited another minute before asking, "Can we go?"

He shoved his phone in his pocket and muttered, "You're wrong. The Internet is wrong. I know what I see, and there's more than one leaf. The facts are simple."

I corrected him, "There's more than one leaflet. There's—"

"There's no such thing as a leaflet!" he yelled, "No leaflets! None! Not now, not ever! Get that fiction out of your head! There's clearly more than one leaf! They thought the world was flat once and they were wrong! There's more than one leaf and I'm right!"

I mentally shifted to end-the-date-as-quickly-as-possible mode and said, "Okay. Maybe you are."

"I am!"

"You are."

We walked on in silence for a few minutes. I then said, "I'm going to go. It was nice meeting you."

"Yeah, you too," he said, "Seriously, you should look up leaves a bit better next time. When there's more than one, there's more than one, you know? All you have to do is count them."

"I sure will."

I sure didn't see him again.


  1. Look, there are times when you should stick to your guns and opinions, and other times when you should just say "huh, I learned something new today".


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  3. I'm so torn on my reaction to this- on the one hand, I value self preservation and not arguing with crazy, but on the other hand, I think it's too bad that this douche has one more time when his strategy worked. Le sigh.

  4. Ugh, why did the OP have to give in to the pressure? Just call the guy out on his stupidity and walk away. Instead, you told him he was right and gave him the chance to be smug ("Hurr, hurr, I iz jenius!").

  5. ^ That's what I would have done, but then again, I'm a 6'1" guy, so I don't have to worry so much about testing the limits of unstable people. When the date started waving a stick in her face (pardon, started waving LEAFLETs ;-) my interpretation was that the OP might have felt threatened, so I don't blame her here for decided discretion was the better part of valor.

  6. *for DECIDING, I mean. Ugh, I hate autocorrect. :-P

  7. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. There are lots of idiots like this. Those that know the least, are usually the most certain they know the most.

  8. @ Baku> It makes no difference how much you stick to your guns, that sort of person is still going to claim the high-ground. Try debating a creationist on biology sometime, you'll get much the same results. You can argue until you're blue in the face, all they have to do is say "nuh-uh!" one more time. The best thing to do is state your point, leave, and then draw everyone else's attention to the person's stupidity.

  9. I am sure she said that he was right in a desperate kind of way and it looked like it and the guy sensed that..some people just don't want to look like idiots after being proved wrong so they keep arguing just to "save face"


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