I’m a member of a group that has long suffered the bitter pill of discrimination. How is it–you may ask–that a white, heterosexual, suburban, graduate-educated male knows the foul taste of discrimination? I love meat, but my wife is a vegetarian. This makes me a lonely omnivore. When I go to the market, I can’t find meat packaged for my kind. No individual could cope with such quantities of meat as packaged by supermarkets. Well, that is besides those not averse to contracting colo-rectal cancer from the rotting carcass wedged in his transverse colon, e.g. Adam Richman.
One option–the healthy option–would be for me to go vegetarian. Did I mention that I love meat? I love bacon and beef and poultry and pork and rabbit and reindeer. I would eat meat on a boat. I would eat meat with a goat, and then I’d make a stew out of the goat. Cut off the beak and the bung, and you’ve got yourself a customer. You say you got horse meat in my beef? Sounds tasty. So option one is a nonstarter. I’m out of the omnivorous closet. I’m here; I eat steer; get used to it.
Another option is to find the store butcher and ask him to wrap me a solitary steak. The problem is two-fold. First, the butcher is never just hanging out at the counter, and so there will be a PA announcement. In the 1950’s, before computers with Facebook and solitaire, the butcher would hang out at the counter, but now he’s in the back–presumably goofing off like 90% of the workforce. The announcement will be quick and neutral, but it will sound enough like the following to garner widespread attention, “Attention in the meat department, there’s a pathetic soul with no one to love him who needs steak for one, I repeat STEAK FOR ONE.” Then everyone in the store has to take a peak at the lonely omnivore. Don’t stare, Johnny, it’s just a hobo.
The second problem is that, while the butcher is smiling and polite, I know he is thinking, We have half a mile of prepackaged meat, and you really want me to take a break from my hectic schedule of playing solitaire in the back office to cut you one steak? Haven’t you heard of a nifty invention called a “freezer?” It should be located somewhere in the general vicinity of your refrigerator.
The third option is, of course, the freezer. If you had any idea how disheveled my mind was, you wouldn’t even suggest this. Using the freezer would require that I anticipate that I will eat again in the future so that I can take the meat out to thaw. Here’s how it really works. I’m sitting here typing and think, That steak would really be good about now! However, presently it isn’t a steak, it’s a block of meatcicle. So I take it out of the freezer. I stare at it for a few minutes, hoping to use my ill-developed Superman-like powers of heat vision. Then I try running hot water on it, but it remains crystalline on the inside. Then I leave it and go back to typing. Then I check on it in three minutes. Then I go back to typing. Then I check on it after two minutes. Sensing the beef will never thaw, I break down and make myself some unsatisfying but filling Top Ramen. The next time I see the steak it’s a soggy and unappetizing lump hanging out in my sink.
Now if you’re an outline-and-note-card kind of writer, you may wonder how a writer could be so unskilled at planning. I’m not that kind of writer. If you haven’t guessed it, if it hasn’t shown through, I just make shit up as I go along. For me, writing is a process of paginated diarrhea, with an admittedly messy cleanup process.
My final option is to go to one of the huge “farmer’s markets” that we have in the area. (I use quotes because I’ve never seen an actual farmer there, and the food is as likely to be from Armenia as it is from Americus, Georgia.) These markets have heaped slabs of meat on ice, they’ll and cut it however one wants. I do this sometimes. There’s a very cool thing about these places. Because they serve such a diverse population, they hire a lot of immigrants. However, while it’s cool that my butcher is a native Lao speaker, it can be problematic for me as a non-Lao-speaking English speaker. Inevitably, my desire for ONE PIECE of meat is translated into ONE KILO of meat or ONE CRATE of meat. I know, you’re saying that there’s one simple and obvious solution: learn the Lao language. The problem is that the next time I go I might get the Urdu-speaking butcher.
I don’t like to complain about my plight [which is why I have a regular series of posts called TODAY’S RANT], but we should make room in our society for those of different meat needs.