If you ask me today why I’m a vegetarian, I will likely tell you that it’s mostly for environmental reasons, and that’s mostly true. But, it’s not the whole story. A big part of the reason I don’t eat animals anymore is that I’ve already tried them all.
When I was a kid, my family ate more exotic fare than just cows and chickens. And dinner time was more than just a meal – it was the precious time where my parents sowed the seeds for my future in therapy.
See, my father hunted. Bunnies and squirrels and frogs and deer – all manner of fierce creatures with razor sharp teeth and cute furry tails. It was them or him. He’d cut them up on the kitchen table with the same dirty knife he’d use to groom his fingernails.
Then, Mom would cook them up, and we’d eat them. Involuntarily.
My sister and I would have paid you to invite us to dinner at your house. Whatever you were having was OK by us. Hamburger Helper? We’d kiss your Mom’s feet.
Not that we never got Hamburger Helper at our house. We did. We loved it, too, because we had never met the cow before it reached our plates. The squirrels and rabbits, we weren’t so sure about.
Dad would shoot pretty much anything that had the nerve to scamper onto the property. My sister and I had to be careful when we wore our little faux fur coats. “Dad, wait! It’s me – Debbie! See? I’m taking down the hood…Moooom, Dad tried to shoot me again!”
But, that’s not the worst.
Let me see here. I started to say the worst was when Dad brought home the cow tongue from the local grocer and Mom boiled it. The smell permeated everything in the house, and that was pretty frickin’ bad.
But, that wasn’t really the worst, because Mom decided that nobody should have to eat that. She was right. Say whatever bullshit you want about the starving kids who’d be happy to have it, but I think even they might have to draw the line at the boiled cow tongue. Personally, I could go a lot of days without eating before I’d even venture to touch it with a stick.
But, the really really worst was Dad’s phase where he deemed that he should be the one to do the cooking.
Armed only with a set of Ginsu knives, a cooking bag, and a Justin Wilson cookbook, he stepped boldly into the world of culinary arts. The world of culinary arts trembled before him, and his own children prayed nightly for his untimely demise.
How many recipes could good ol’ Justin Wilson come up with that call for both a shitload of cooking wine and an ungodly amount of cayenne pepper? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
I never thought chicken was such a bad meal until I consumed several who tasted as if they might well have died of alcohol poisoning while pursuing some ill-fated fraternity dare.
Dad would put the poor chicken in a bag with two quarts of booze and three heaping tablespoons of red pepper and then cook it up for our eating pleasure. Even though the bird would already be dead at this point, you’d swear if you listened long enough that you could hear the fucking thing hiccup. “Dad, I think your friend there has had quite enough to drink. Give him a cup of coffee, and don’t let him drive.”
So, why am I telling you all of this now – more than twenty years after the fact and much too late for you to call child protective services to have me put in a nice foster home? Well, because Justin Wilson was evil, and Ginsu knives weren’t all they were cracked up to be, and sometimes a person just needs to get these things off her chest.
There. I’m feeling much better now.
How are you?