Jul. 23, 2010

Why I am Not a Vegetarian

by David Oliveira

It's not that I love animals less,
a case could be made I love them more—
and it's not that I love vegetables less,
I love them rare,
nothing more savory than raw celery
clawing and kicking its way down the gullet.

What I find hard to stomach is vegetarians.
If there is a vegetarian at the table, we all
get called in to be witnesses at a police lineup.
Cheese, eggs, fish,
each suspect paraded for identification—
pronounced innocent, guilty,
please take two steps forward.

And it's not like there is just one canon
for the good host to worry about.
Each vegetarian comes with a different menu.
Most won't eat anything that had legs,
though many eat fish, a fin nothing like a leg,
And eat shrimp, that have legs
which count as fins since they come from the sea
and taste so good in a Newburg sauce.
Oysters are problematic, without legs and from the sea,
but mostly eaten alive, like carrots.
A few pass on eggs because of the latent leg potential,
though pasta is usually okay,
the potential hard to realize under the marinara.

One friend doesn't drink milk
but asks for extra au jus
for his mashed potatoes. I haven't the heart
to explain what kind of vegetable the "au" is
or how many get squeezed to make a cup of "jus."

Don't misunderstand,
I admire those who stand on principle,
however vague, who doesn't admire
the resolve of, say, a Jerry Falwell,
to bear the weight of so much conviction
he can hardly walk to church.
Praise the Lord for limousines.
As my mother would say,
"Live and let live—
Just keep the details to yourself,
And pass the ketchup, please."

"Why I am Not a Vegetarian" by David Oliveira, from A Little Travel Story. © Harbor Mountain Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1829 that William Burt received a patent for the "typographer." It was a typewriter that looked more like a record player. It had a swinging arm that picked up ink and then printed a letter, and then the paper was manually adjusted to make space for the next letter.

It's the birthday of Raymond Chandler, (books by this author) born in Chicago (1888). His parents were Irish, and after his father left the family, his mom moved them back to Ireland, and he grew up there and in England. He moved back to America and settled in California.

He wrote pulp fiction about the city of Los Angeles and a detective there named Philip Marlowe. Chandler's first novel was The Big Sleep (1939), which sold well and was made into a movie in 1946 with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall — William Faulkner co-wrote the screenplay. Chandler wrote seven more novels featuring Philip Marlowe, who became the quintessential "hard-boiled" private eye, tough and street-smart and full of wise cracks. In Farewell, My Lovely (1940), Marlowe says: "I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I neededa home in the country.What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."

It's the birthday of Vikram Chandra, (books by this author) born in New Delhi (1961). He moved to the United States to go to college in California and ended up at Columbia University's film school in New York. He dropped out of film school to write a novel based on the autobiography of James Skinner, a famous Indian-British colonel. It was published in 1995 as Red Earth and Pouring Rain. It got great reviews, and won awards, and he followed it up with a collection of stories, Love and Longing in Bombay (1997).

Vikram Chandra said, "I think it's very true when you're a writer and you sometimes you have to spend time poking at part of yourself that normal, sane people leave alone."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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