A Short Vignette of Not Eating Mammals
She cleared the bangs from her forehead then pulled the pen and pad from her apron pocket. Her wrinkled mouth and stained yellow teeth began to form words.
“You want the bacon on the side?” She inquired, her big eyes probing.
“No, thanks.” I replied, holding the laminated menu card.
“You want a side of ham, or sausage?” She asked, almost pleadingly.
“No thanks. Actually, may I please have a side cup of fruit, instead?”
“Yes, that’ll be one dollar extra. And, no meat?” She pressed once more.
“That is fine, and no meat. Thank You.”
“Okay, so you want a breakfast wrap – with eggs, cheese, green peppers, onions, and NO meat.” She read off her pad confidently now. “And, a side cup of fruit. No meat”
“No meat, Thank You kindly.” I handed her the menu card and smiled as she turned back toward the kitchen.
It was a small cafe, in a small town, in a small county, in the middle of North Carolina. Supposedly, pigs outnumbered humans by almost 10 times. Pork and beef were staples of local cuisine and not partaking was difficult at times – unfathomable to many locals. Repeatedly explaining why I didn’t eat red meat had grown old. So, I had decided that it should be perfectly acceptable to just say “No meat, please.”
“I have an allergy to meat.”
“Just red meat. Yes, pigs too.”
“Yes, I know that pork is ‘the other white meat’”.
“I am actually allergic to mammal meat. Pigs are mammals”
“I can’t have deer, bison, goat, lamb, pig, cow, etc…
“I can however, eat primates and humans. Not allergic to people, I can eat human if I please. Desperation just hasn’t reached that level yet.”
This is what it was. Explaining how I could not eat mammals, other than primates, and humans, as if that would ever be an option.
Poultry and Fish.
I could eat poultry and fish and I was perfectly OK with this. People would ask sympathetically, “aren’t you sad you can’t have meat?”
“Bacon? You miss bacon?”
“Not really. Too fatty. Never cared much for it.”
Now, if I had been inflicted with a bean burrito allergy, or hummus allergy, or allergy to peanuts, I would have been horribly distraught. Perhaps my lifelong affinity for these food groups assisted in my apathy for a mammalian meat allergy. I simply did not give a shit and I figured my colon, heart, and many other vital organs may thank me in thirty years. Or, perhaps they would thank the ticks.
Ticks and the ‘Curse’ of the Red Meat Allergy
“Goddamnit, these little fuckers are everywhere. Look.” I pointed at the back of my leg. “Not ten steps into this grass, and here are 7 ticks crawling up my leg.”
“You should shave your legs. Check mine out. No ticks!” Sunny pointed out her shaved and mostly tick-less legs.
“Got one there, crawling up behind your knee.”
“Shit,” she exclaimed as she flicked it off, “well, not nearly as many as you’ve got.”
“I hate ticks. Vile little things. I don’t want to get lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever…” I rambled off the various known ailments that accompany frequent tick bites.
A couple months later, we were in Virginia for a friend’s wedding. Great time, drinking, dancing, more drinking, failed attempts at hooking up the best man. The morning after the big party, we decided to pile all the leftover food – sausages, some bacon, ham – into a giant egg scramble breakfast and gorge ourselves one last time over several bottles of champaign. After eating incredibly too much food, and drinking plenty of coffee, we all started to pack up and ready ourselves to depart.
Several hours later, in southern Virginia headed back to North Carolina, I was driving along.
“Sunny, I’m feeling a little weird,” my lips started to itch a little. My scalp too. My arms. My legs.
“What going on there, Holmes? Your face looks red.”
“What the hell.” I was starting to itch all over.
“I’m gonna pull over here and stop at the gas station. It’s weird… I ate a handful of the peanuts about ten minutes ago. Am I suddenly, at the age of 28, allergic to peanuts?” I was thinking aloud to Sunny in the passenger seat. Itching my head and armpits like a monkey.
“Go to the bathroom, I’ll go in and get some allergy medicine.” Sunny was getting out of the car as I made for the bathroom.
I made for a stall and pulled off my shirt and dropped my pants. I had a rash over my chest and arms pits. My thighs and groin too. Around my waist were mottled hives. I put my clothes back on and went to the mirror. My hairline was covered in hives. My lips looked kinda red. Felt puffy too. My fingertips even felt strange.
Then I had a sudden urge to visit the stall again. Dropped my pants and sat down. Not a lot happened in the traditional sense, but it burned like hell. Felt like I had eaten nothing but the hottest Thai food for the last week.
“What the hell.” I thought to myself. I have never had allergies before. This is the weirdest thing.
We got back in the car and I took some of the pills. About an hour later, I started to feel normal again. Puffiness gone, itchiness relieved, I chalked it up to some strange anomaly.
A couple months later my brother came out from Utah for a visit. One afternoon we stopped off at the burger shop on campus before heading toward Dunn, North Carolina to visit a Civil War battlefield.
“What can I get’chya shug?” with the care and compassion only a deeply southern woman of her size can have, she took my order on her yellow pad.
“I’ll have a cheeseburger, please. With fries and a drink.” I rarely ate beef these days, but was feeling hungry.
Ben ordered the same.
Why I Don’t Eat Mammals Part 2: http://wp.me/p4iZnM-b5