Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Countdown Begins

Next Sunday is the Publican and the Pharisee, which is a day that makes every good Orthodox Christian say, “Lent—already?”

In order to get ready for Lent, I introduced broccoli into the macaroni & cheese I served the children for supper tonight. This is the year I am going to keep all the kids vegetarian for Lent.

It might take a gradual weaning for everyone, since meals where Mark is not in attendance I give the kids easy food: PBJ, bean burritos, mac & cheese, pizza, or chicken nuggets. It’s easier for me because I don’t try to impress or excite them with nuanced spice combinations, multiple sides, or fancy entrée’s.

In fact, I don’t think I am capable of that kind of art in the first place. One reason is the canvas on which I am plying my art would prefer a peanut-butter-mac-and-nugget-Pizza Hut flavor to the varied and subtle combinations I might sometimes try—often with negative or indifferent results.

I saw a commercial last night which illustrates my husband’s approach to the salad bar. There is a man walking in front of a salad bar with a weak-looking pile of lettuce on his plate and a sneer on his face. He perks up: “Ooo cheese!” as he grabs the tongs. His wife says, “Honey those are carrots.” He drops them as if he has suddenly discovered something slimy on the handle. He walks further, “BACON!” Then his wife hits him in the head—“I could have had a V8!”

This guy (like my own husband) probably would have preferred a coke.

But I shouldn’t complain since my husband has given me two things (next only to his love and income) which will last till death we part. The first one (not to be diminished by what any wife would consider a treasure with the second) is a conversion from vegetarianism to “carnivorism.”

After eighteen years of rice, beans, cheese, and tons of texturized vegetable protein in the shape of corn dogs, hamburgers, bacon, sausage patties and links, my husband decided to start eating real meat.

His life as a vegetarian didn't start this way. But for about fourteen years prior to his “conversion” he was the most reluctant vegetarian I had ever known. He would prefer any flavor or shape of TVP to pasta, beans, rice, or a crisp piece of vegetable or fruit.

He started to slip several years after our church began having barbeque fundraisers. He would eat a ceremonial barbeque sandwich which was a humorous highlight of the event. He then began secretly slipping out to local BBQ joints when he worked late on Thursday nights. After discovering that he couldn’t modify vegetarianism to include pork barbecue every Thursday, he realized that he was just delaying the inevitable.

So he said to me one day in 2007, “OK. I think it’s time I just started eating meat… it’ll be cheaper than fake meat and it’ll be easier on you and the kids.” A few weeks after his conversion to meat he gave me the second treasure of our marriage.

While this is perfectly applicable to his conversion from vegetables to meat, it is nonetheless preeminently quotable in every other realm of our lives together:

“Honey, I can’t believe for 18 years I was such a dumb ass.”