- Guy: What do girls do at sleepovers?
- Me: Pass the Bechdel test.
A Vegetarian’s Love Letter To Meat
One of the reasons I used to eat meat was that I needed somewhere to practice and better understand my badness. Because, I’m nice. I walk around smiling at people and I say “don’t worry” to people who seem worried—sometimes even if they don’t. I tell people things are okay that are not great, things they should probably feel a little bit bad about. Or at least doubt about. I cry when I’m mad and I say I’m worried something is my fault when I’m worried something is someone else’s fault. I worry people don’t like me, to avoid admitting that I don’t like something about them.
I’m a pastry cook. I literally have stopped offering people food without piles of sugar in it. This is related and it should creep you out.
In short, I have tried to put a seal on that niceness, a nice suffocating Saran wrap seal on the freshness of my uncontaminated love and positivity, which is in fact contaminated as hell. Of course it is. With the windows up I call people “dumb motherfucker” in traffic, and I let that expletive just swirl around in my closed car like a fart, or like engine exhaust. Gross. I’m not saying I should in fact be shouting “dumb motherfucker” out the window, “where it could do some real good”—I know it’s not awesome to do that. But there’s obviously something not so nice about steeping in your own anger, your monkey-brain bad side. While completely rejecting it. There’s something mean about judging it so relentlessly, suffocating it, trying to choke it out. How can that be nice? That does not seem nice. And, if you’re just getting here, we are trying to be nice. I made you a cookie. Let me see you eat it.
So, meat. I don’t know, bro. I am now a vegetarian, and have been for a year, but I still get a small satisfying body rush, remembering the tearing and grinding my teeth can do when I let them. The juiciness of released liquids that are not merely fragrant water from a cucumber. More and better even than that—I remember preparing meat, with love and quiet reverence; studiously finding the ligament that connects a squid’s skin to its muscle, letting my thumb feel its way between skin and muscle, till the skin is finally loose enough to slip off inside out, like a tight sock. What I’m doing is skinning something, but I’m also acquainting myself painstakingly with what connected this squid to itself. You cannot do this with a cookie. And, and, there’s something about myself that belongs to this action.
I don’t always want to own this, but when I feel alien from myself, or alien from the dumb motherfucker on the other side of my car window, I wonder what connects us, and whether there’s a purely nice way to know it.