At the time I was madly in love with a boy, Nick, who sometimes self identified as Nicky. I described him as a transgendered Marxist who was really into politics. He was madly in love with a girl, Jennifer who looked like a Scandinavian goddess. She identified as a polyamorous lesbian, who had a lot of sex with men.
Jennifer was a vegan. Then Nick/Nicky was a vegan. And then I was a vegan. Their reasons had a lot to do with “negative energy” and “animal rights” and “call it pig flesh, not pork,” but those reasons seemed too esoteric for my taste. I wanted something more tangible, and I found it. Sustainability and efficiency are perfectly rational reasons to become a vegan that have nothing to do with feelings and cuteness. I had been a vegetarian at that point for almost a year. Which had already led to such great conversations as;
“Mom, this soup tastes like chicken. Is there chicken in it?”
“Well, yeah. But I picked all the chicken out of your bowl.”
“Mom, chicken broth is meat. I don’t eat meat.”
“Chicken broth isn’t meat, it’s broth. Meat is something you have to chew.”
So I came home and announced in that self righteous entitled tone 15 year old American girls are so famous for, “I’m a vegan now. I won’t eat any more animal flesh or their tortured byproducts.”
Neither of my parents thought this would last, and it didn’t. But my mother took me to a vegan cooking seminar and we discovered “Gimmie Lean” which promised to be a substitute for “Jimmie Dean” sausage. At the seminar it tasted great. I had forgotten what meat tasted like, and I think my mom must have been high. But we swore to each other we couldn’t tell the difference. So we bought a packet of “Gimmie Lean” and I called my father to tell him I was making an exception to my veganism for one night, so my mother could make his favorite dish, spaghetti and meatballs.
Spaghetti and meatballs is my father’s favorite meal. Like, ever. My father doesn’t have many luxuries, indulgences, or “favorite things.” He’s a flexible “whatever my wife wants” kind of guy. But when I called him to tell him that after a year of salads, and floating tofu, and vegetables he didn’t know how to pronounce, we would be having spaghetti and meatballs-I thought I heard him choke up a little bit on the phone.
So my mother and I started cooking, chopping vegetables, preparing the sauce, and browning the “Gimmie Lean.” Everything was going great, and we were just about to start the water when my father walked through the door. The expression on his face was that of hope shattered.
He said “Why does the house smell like alfalfa?”
My mother cruelly assured him “I put some in the sauce, relax honey.”
My father looked suspicious, but he loved and trusted his wife and daughter, so he sat down at the table. He was looking forward to his favorite meal after a hard day of work. My mother served and we both stared at my father as he put his first fork full to his lips, and started to chew. After just a moment he stopped chewing, spit the concoction into his napkin, and stoically left the table.