I know that the perverted section of our audience are squirming around in their seats with the pants down after reading that title, but really, this isn’t going to be about what you are thinking. Pull your pants up, for crying out loud. Or leave them down if you need a good airing out, as long as this isn’t a video chat.
Anyway, I am tormented by two strongly opposed yet deeply held convictions: My overwhelming love of animals, and my primal cravings for meat.
Anyone who listens to the show already knows that Mr. Helix and I have a small pride of tiny lions living with us, and they are as dear to us as some peoples’ children. From what I read in the papers these days, they may well me much more important to us than many peoples’ children, since we regularly feed, hug and generally avoid attempting to mutilate or kill them, but that’s another blog. Point being, we love them and treat them like family members – furry little children that only talk back when the food bowls are empty or the cat boxes are not being kept to their standards.
But it’s not just cats that I love. Anyone walking a dog is going to have to stop for me to visit with their furry friend, if the dog seems interested and friendly. I love to watch and feed birds, and ducks, and the endless variety of suburban backyard animals make me smile, even if they occasionally eat my plants or dig inconvenient holes. Wild animals near extinction make me incredibly sad. Videos of polar bears struggling to stay on the melting ice makes me worry about their future, and the numbers of tigers remaining in certain areas of the world makes me sick with dread. Oh, and the many Facebook postings from one of my friends who is super-involved in animal rescue make me crazy. “Save Trixie, she is scheduled to be destroyed on such and such a date!” Oh my god, I look into the eyes of those poor animal shelter death row dogs and it’s all I can do to keep from sobbing. By the time I am hitting “hide”, when the shear numbers get to me, it’s too late, and I am haunted all day by that little face, thrown away by her family because she became inconvenient in some way. And don’t get me started on the abuse of circus elephants….
Well, you see my point. I’m kind of a freak about this, I guess. I sometimes thought about a career working with animals, but the suffering they experience hits me so hard, I think even my already formidable dosages of medications wouldn’t be enough to keep me from burning down some dog fight ringleader’s house to vent.
And even though I love animals that much…I still eat them.
I know! It’s hideous. I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t been able to stop eating my FRIENDS. How dare I coo and ahhh at a photo of tiny piglets one moment, and then chow down on bacon the next? I love birds of all types, and yet I regularly eat chicken…and EGGS! I eat my friends AND their babies!
I wish my friends weren’t so damn delicious.
Oh, I tried to be a vegetarian once. My roommate went veggie, and I was very enthusiastic about joining her, too. I already had self-imposed restrictions on eating any of the most endearing Disney characters. “No Bambi, no Thumper!” I would tell overly enthusiastic hunters dying to share their kill. Little by little, my disgust over eating certain animal friends or baby animals (No veal!) would narrow down my meat options, and I developed a shellfish allergy that saved a few of my oceanic friends as well. So, the idea of cutting out meat altogether seemed like the logical step.
I don’t know how many months I lasted before the dreams began. Cheeseburger dreams. I would dream about goddamn cheeseburgers in my sleep. Couldn’t I have sex dreams or even nightmares about running naked through the mall like a normal person? No, I was watching cheese drip onto the grill, and all that disgusting yet yummy grease sizzling like a hot meat porn fantasy. I would wake up drooling on my pillow, completely disgusted with myself. I’d spend the whole day trying to be completely satisfied by lentil loaf and tofu, only to crawl back into bed and writhe around to the sizzling burgers of my dreams. It was torture. I didn’t make it.
Now, many years later, I am still eating my beloved barnyard pals and sea creatures without shells, but I feel pangs of guilt all the time. It reminds me of the story Paul and Linda McCartney would tell about how they made the decision to become vegetarians. They were sitting in the house eating a leg of lamb dinner, and watching the baby lambs jump and run out on the field out the window. I completely understand their moment of epiphany. Now if you could only get a bunch of cows to cavort on my front lawn while I’m cooking a steak, it’s possible that I might actually be able to break the cycle, but so far, I’m still just a completely conflicted and guilt-ridden carnivore.
It’s lonely at the top of the food chain, man. Pass the ribs