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Monday, January 11, 2010

Better Red Than Dead

Maybe it's because Aunt Mickey is wasting away to nothing down in Florida.

Maybe it's because I just had lunch with a bunch of my wife's old suite-mates at a Kosher, Indian, Vegetarian restaurant in New York City.

Maybe it's because steak is so goddamn expensive, and so goddamn excessive, and so goddamn... American.

I don't know what it is, and I don't know if I'm sliding off the deep end whilst sitting on a giant slab of London Broil, but I am giving up red meat.

And I'm a little bit frightened.

I haven't had to give up a lot of things in my life. I never started drinking alcohol, so I never had to give that up, and I never smoked a real cigarette-- only candy ones as a dubious youth and clove ones as an even more dubious college-level actor. I never opted for pot, LSD, cocaine, crack, E, shrooms, acid, cough syrup, air duster, heroin and life's other fun injectables.

I did smoke cigars for a little while-- from the time I was seventeen until my last one at twenty-three. I was in the underground parking lot of a casino, only there because of my friend, only smoking the cigar because of my friend, and I thought to myself as I sucked in the acrid, thick, foul smoke, "I might as well be performing oral sex on the tailpipe of an idling 1977 Dodge Monaco."

And I put the cigar on the pavement underneath my shoe and I crushed the bejesus out of it-- and that was my last cigar.

So, while I don't have tons of experience in giving up vices, (I still have a very soft spot in my heart for free, streaming internet pornography), I think I'm probably pretty good at it-- and, truthfully, I don't think giving up red meat is going to be especially too difficult for me. Of course, red meat tastes a damn sight better than cigar smoke, especially when it has been lovingly marinated over the course of many a succulent, savory hour, and I respectfully acknowledge that. Red meat, thou art a worthy adversary, but I shall emerge from this fight victorious.

Actually, I'll emerge from it victorious and dead, as opposed to a failure and dead, but I'm hopeful that I'll emerge victorious and dead a few years later and healthier than I would if I failed-- my arteries as saturated and cracklicious as a Bloomin' Onion.

"So, is this one of your schemes to avoid dying?" my wife said to me when I brought the topic of my carnivorous abstension this evening in the car ride back from New York.

"No," I said, "I know I'm going to die-- but I love my life with you so much that I want to live it as long as possible, and I want to be as healthy as I can be for as long as possible."

See-- the key to this battle is not my willpower, it's the fact that I don't eat red meat very much. When I sat back and evaluated the situation objectively-- I haven't been to a steakhouse in at least seven years. I have only brought a steak home to cook once in my life. I enjoy making salmon burgers and turkey burgers and even lamby burgers, but I've only made actual hamburger once. I haven't eaten flank steak or London Broil since before my Bar Mitzvah, back when my mother used to both cook and eat. If I'm stopping at a rest stop, I more often than not order a chicken sandwich, so, really, what the fuck is the big deal?

Of course, the flip side to that is-- how is giving up something I really don't eat that much going to improve my length/quality of life? Well, um.... what are you, a lawyer?

Maybe it's just symbolic. And that's okay, isn't it? My heart's in the right place, isn't it? I don't want to be one of those self-righteous, obnoxious, in-your-face, oh,-I-don't-eat-red-meat kind of people and, if I get like that, you have permission to rape me with a cattle-prod (talk about symbolism!) because my wife has been a vegetarian since forever, and she's not like that. She doesn't mercilessly grill every waiter and every party host about every single ingredient in a dip or a chili. She doesn't say, "Well, I'm a vegetarian!" with that tell-tale annoying emphasis and tell-tale-ier smug, organic, whey-based, gluten-free imitation shit-eating grin.

I want to be just like her when I grow up. Except that I want to continue eating pork, chicken, venison, hen, quail, pheasant, pigeon, lamb, fish, crabs, scallops, shrimp, lobster, squid, plankton, siamese fighting fish, sponges, starfish, and whatever the fuck the Incredible Mr. Limpet was supposed to be.

Glasses and hat and all.


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  2. How dare you come to New York and not tell me. I would have at least walked past the restaurant you were dining at and whip the finger at you through the window as I laughed at your grilled soy cheese burger.

    I gave up red meat (and Pork which you should really consider too since bacon is just as bad as red meat) 5 years ago. I think more chickens and turkeys have died on account of this then I care to admit.
    But it's not too hard. Hamburgers still tempt me but you can always get close with a turkey burger or grilled chicken. And some centenarian who lives in my apartment building walks to the grocery store once a week with her stockings rolled up around her ankles and buys a thick juicy steak from the grocery store and pushes it back home in her little shopping cart and proceeds to cook it just perfectly enough that the smell of fabulous steak wafts right up the steps into my apartment making me drool and wonder what the dog would taste like if I threw it in the oven and covered it with A1 sauce. But apart from that it's fine...fine...fine...I'm...fine.

  3. Oh, Adam-- we were literally just there for lunch. Honest-to-God, Penn Station, cab, Kosher Indian Vegetarian restaurant at 27 & Lex, cab, Penn Station, home.

    Ya know, 'cuz we're jet-setters and shit.

    And I'll never give up bacon, Goddamnit. They'll have to suck the piggie fat out of me with a Big Gulp straw!

  4. you should sit on your front stoop eating a pork chop. I bet that neighbor who asks about Hanukkah would stop.

  5. the only red meat you're giving up is beef? You are going to continue eating pork and lamb? You are, as you say yourself, giving up something you rarely eat anyway? I think you need to try harder -- really shock your body -- and give up something you like, as well, just for shits and giggles.

  6. Er, not to be contrary, but lamb is pretty definitely a red meat. So are you just giving up beef?

    Also, it's definitely easy to give up red meats. I used to say I'd give up oxygen before I gave up steak, then pretty seamlessly transitioned into a vegetarian/semi-vegan lifestyle for a year or so. (What? I was in San Francisco. It was that or become a lesbian. I chose my must-have meat and I stand by it.)

  7. I am pretty sure that my wife is the only one who is permitted to catch me on my obvious and pernicious contradictions.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to sink my teeth into a living sheep's neck while puncturing its vena cava with my fingernails.


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