out with the fam

I went out to eat with the family yesterday to celebrate Father's Day. Mom took us all to a place called Smokey Bones, reminding me that I said that they shouldn't change anything about their lives to accommodate my vegetarianism. I mentioned something about applying the same policy to my impending sex-change operation and that stopped her immediately from being s'damn smug.

Anyway, the restaurant isn't so much an edifice to American obesity, but a testament to the disintegration of the American family too. There are televisions everywhere, and little doo-dads on the tables so you can push a button and listen to one of four television programs. Fortunately, though, they sat us near the GIANT tv because they could obviously tell how much I fucking love to eat meat, watch television, and ignore my family all at the same time. And, to really top it off, the GIANT tv was showing that great bastion of rednecks everywhere: NASCAR. Just what I needed: hillbillies making left turns all day.

Anyway, I perused the salads. There was one that sounded really good, but I was in the mood from something heartier. In a moment of blind hopefulness, I flipped to the hamburger section of the menu to discover...a vegetarian burger. Holy shit. It was like finding a needle in a heroin shortage.

And it was good. Really good. I'd had a few veggie burgers at a cook-out a few days previously, so I was prepared: you don't try to convince yourself that they taste like meat, you just enjoy what they do taste like. Since the people who make these vegetarian burgers obviously feel sorry for the people who decide to eat them, they load these mothers with all sorts of herb and spices that, frankly, will keep me from eating a regular ol' hamburger for a long time.

I was careful to point out the veggie burger on the menu to Mom, who was very curious about the prospect. I made sure she knew that restaurants do have food that I can eat. When the sandwich came, I offered bite to everyone, but only my sister would try it. My family, being German and Irish, want nothing more than an appetizer of meat followed by meat with a side of meat followed by meat pudding. She had the same assessment as I did: "It's good if you don't try to pretend it's meat." And then she stuffed her mouth with a shredded pork sandwich.


yet another perk

I'm not a fan of cliches, but I do enjoy turning them around sometimes. For example, when beginning off a lunch appointment with a friend because I hungrier beyond what the contents of the lunch I'd brought would sate, I called my companion and, instead of saying "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse" which, aside from being cliche is also disingenuous to my new lifestyle, I said, "I'm so hungry I could eat your entire backyard." Along with playing around with the cliche, I am rather amused with the image of sitting in someone's backyard with a fork and a bottle of salad dressing and chomping happily away.

Vegetarianism, it seems, is good for the imagination, which makes anything worth doing.


sticking it to the (really old) man

(Obviously, I've lost track of which day I'm in, so I'll be dropping that contrivance.)

A few weeks ago I was engaged in a gripping game of pool with a vegan friend of mine. I was mere seconds from sending the cue-ball into one of the other balls and, ideally, wiping the floor with her tears of defeat. But then, quite suddenly, she called the game to a halt. Was it merely a dirty, underhanded move so she could win the game? With her, it's possible...though I've only ever beaten her at pool I think maybe once so it seems unnecessary. Nope. The game was paused because there was a bug on the table.

Being good to animals makes sense to me, obviously. But it's difficult to think of insects as animals. Sure they have legs and eyes and assholes and other such things generally lacking in the plant kingdom, but it's not like a mosquito will fetch a stick if I throw one or go fucking apeshit if I feed it catnip. It's just a damn bug, and, like all bugs, they're so ubiquitous that rolling over one of those annoying little shits with an accidental cue-ball wouldn't really affect anything at all.

This morning I was walking to work in the cool sunlight. I saw an old man walk out of one of the shitty real estate company offices in this town and place something small on the ground. After he went back inside, I approached to discover an army of ants scurrying about on the sidewalk near the flowerbed and the little trap that old bastard had placed. I became instantly indignant.

If his house were overrun with ants I could understand using the trap - they're too small to be able ty simple remove to the outdoors. There's really no other practical way. But these ants were outside. We forget that once were step out of our secure little houses we're in their world. We've encroached on it enough. Do we really need to start killing them on their own turf for doing nothing more than freaking out over a bit of spilled ice cream?

So I picked up the trap from the ground and threw it into a trash can a few blocks down the street so that those little six-legged fuckers wouldn't sniff it out and die in the dumpster (a distinctly human thing to do). When I walk home in a bit, I'll do the same thing if old man has put out another trap.

And I'll never again make fun of my friend for saving an insect from the murderous wrath of my cue-ball.


day 11: an etheopian at the outback

I called my sister last night just to chat and to check up on Randal. During our conversation she informed me that my parents are still really confused and annoyed by my decision towards vegetarianism. Or really, I guess they're annoyed that I didn't provide a reason.

She said that Dad thinks I'm merely trying to distance myself from my family/upbringing even further. Because, apparently, I'm still sixteen and feel the need to rebel solely for the sake of rebellion. Because I'm going to let what everyone else does or doesn't do, or what they like or they don't like, determine what I do and like. Because the distance between us isn't merely because I'm different from them. I have every Beatles album ever made, some of them even on vinyl, because my dad got me hooked on them at a young age, yet he thinks that I'm attempting to sever every connection and relation between myself and them. Idiot.

Mom actually hit pretty close to the truth, but I give her very little credit for this because they keep asking my sister - who is seven years younger than I am - to explain the actions of her older brother. It's like asking the Pope to explain why the Dalai Lama eats so much rice. Ugh. Idiots.

My sister also told me that they all went out to eat last night to celebrate her having landed a new job. My parents celebrate everything in this manner: Oh! You got a new job! Let's go eat at some chain restaurant! I imagine that my reward for having taken my first steps was an immediate trip to the local Ponderosa.

I was a bit put out. I don't care about not being invited to family get-togethers too much, but I actually like my sister and would have liked to celebrate with her. So I asked why I wasn't invited. She said that the 'rents have this idea that because I'm a vegetarian now there's nowhere that I can eat. They're aware, peripherally, that restaurants have veggies: they're those things that arrive in a bowl draped in enough ranch dressing to drown every single inhabitant of Hidden Valley (wherever the hell that is). They're the things you put up with so you can feel better about eating your steak, much in the same way that I put up with Kirsten Dunst so I can watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or that I put up with sex because society (and, it would seem, etymology) deems it must follow foreplay. But they seem to think that it's not a meal without meat, and that if you're not going to eat meat then you're effectively not going to eat and therefore Applebee's will just get irritated that you're taking up one of their chairs just so you can grow more and more emaciated. No-one wants to see someone getting noticeably skinnier in an American steakhouse.

Actually, I don't know what they're thinking. I told them plainly: you don't have to change anything. My dietary proclivities are not to put anyone out. I will adjust as necessary. Ah, but the 'rents can be fastidiously clueless when they want to be, and I know there's nothing for it. I just really hope I can clear this up with them before they don't invite me to my own birthday celebration. Because I fully intend to insist upon going somewhere that serves only veggies. (Finding a vegan restaurant would be ideal, but this is Northwest Ohio where they are more cows on the sides of the roads than there are McDonald's wrappers.) I don't like to simply make my point; I like to overstate it. Emphatically. I like to stand in front of the tank, to set myself on fire. Making my parents eat something green and bloodless will only result in more familial unhappiness and disingenuousness, but it'll make my point. And, it'll be fun. For me anyway.

day 10: what the hell am i doing?

There are only a handful of universal truths:

  • Tom Robbins is the best author ever.
  • Renee Zellweger is a shitty actress.
  • Peanut butter makes everything better.
  • Sex is cool.
  • McDonald's is gross.
For every truth, there is a contradiction:
  • Robbins' books aren't the most well-crafted.
  • Bidget Jones' Diary is an entertaining flick.
  • Peanut butter is fatty and sticky.
  • Sex is awkward.
  • McDonald's is nigh irresistible.
During a trip to Columbus for a conference, my co-workers required a stop for the purpose of relieving their bladders. They decided that the next McD's would be good. I acquiesced, smiling at the thought that this bastion of American greed and obesity was always good for taking a shit. We parked and disembarked. I didn't need to use the restroom, so I waited in the lobby. I was there less than a minute before the irresistible nastiness of the Egg McMuffin began to call to me in sultry tones. Without realizing it, I found myself waiting in line.

In fact, I didn't really realize that I'd gotten in line until I reached the register and heard myself ordering one of these harbingers of cardiac arrest. "Yeah, I'll have an Egg McMuffin value meal with..."

The bright-eyed girl on the other side of the counter seemed for a moment to think that I was a wind up toy who needed another turn or two before I could complete the sentence.

"Wait," I said. "What am I doing?" "Uhm...you were ordering an Egg McMuffin combo, sir." "No, I mean in the larger sense." "What?" "You wouldn't happen to be an existential investigator would you?" "I'm sorry?" "Never mind. I've made this awkward enough. You don't need to be subjected any further to my morning whims and confusions." "Okay..." "Give me that sandwich without the ham. And I'd like an orange juice with that." "Oh. Okay. That'll be three dollars and sixty-two cents."

I paid the girl and considered tipping her for putting up with my momentary lapse of reason. The whole damn thing had been so automatic, something like this: I'm in a McDonald's; it's before 10:30; I must be here for an Egg McMuffin. But the weird part was that once I came alive to what I was about to do, I couldn't not have the suspiciously strong egg flavor in my mouth. Such is the power of McD's: it's not heroin, but it's close. Oh so close.

One of the allowances I've been giving myself to ease the transition is eggs. I love eggs and will eat them for all my meals if left to my own devices. (And I should never be left to my own devices. For many reasons.) I know that in eating an egg I'm eating an unborn chicken as well, and in time I will give these up too. But for now I ate my ham-less McMuffin more-or-less guilt-free. But there's no way I could have known that doing so would cure me of the addiction.

Those things just don't taste the same without the meat: the balance is all skewed. In a bad way. I offer this as advice to anyone who's having trouble curing themselves of a McD's addiction: order whatever you order without one part of its usual makeup. It's like coming down from a fabulous high without having been high in the first place. And that's just pointless.