23 May 2016

V is for: Vegetarian

        I have friends and family that are vegetarians.  I understand the philosophy of an animal giving up its life to feed us and cloth us.  I have even tried to change my eating habits a few times.  However, it only lasted a week until I graduated to poultry, then seafood, and slowly, by the four-week duration,  progressed back to red meats.
        It was Presidents’ Day 2000, I made a roast for dinner.  As I was carving it, Evan pranced into the kitchen and asked, “What cha’ doin’, Mommie?”
        “I’m carving a roast.”
        “O! Okay.”  He paused and asked, “What’s a roast?  Is it meat?’
        “Yes, Evan, it is meat.”
        “What kind of meat is it?”
        “Well, it’s cow meat.”
        Silence was so thick you could have cut that with a knife.  Sometimes you could actually see Evan’s mind working; you could hear the wheels turning, just like my dad.  He was quiet and surveyed the world around him.  His face became perplexed, then enlightened.  All of a sudden, his voice started out calm and slowly rose in certainty, “You mean you eat meat?”
        “Yes, I eat meat.”
        “And meat is cow and meat is chicken?”
        “And cow and chicken are animals?”
        “And you EAT ANIMALS!?!”
        “Yes, Evan, I guess that’s one way of putting it; I eat animals.”
        His nose crinkled up, and he put his little hands together in front of his chest, and in no uncertain terms declared, “Mommie, that’s dis-dis-disgusting!”  I looked at him and he looked at me and then he said, “Mommie, did I hurt your feelings?”
        Then I washed my hands so I could bend down to sit on the floor next to him and talk.  “No, honey, you didn’t hurt my feelings.”  We hugged.  I told him, “A lot of people feel like you do.  Well, Aunt Ruthye for one.  You can talk to her about it when we see her in May if you want to.”
        “Okay, I will.”  Silence.  “So you eat the meat and what about the skin.  What do they do with the cow’s skin?”
        “They make it into shoes and clothes, and people wear it as clothing.  Some people won’t wear things made of animal skin.”
        “Mommie, where does cheese come from?” 
        “Milk.  And, Evan, no animals are killed to make a glass of milk or a piece of cheese.  Just for reference, they’re called byproducts.”
        He had the biggest sigh of relief and said, “Good!  I’ll take a glass of milk with cheese on the side, please…Hey, Emma, you want some…”
        This all comes from a boy whose limited menu (previous to this incident) included: 
1.      Only whole milk
2.      Selective juices
3.      Soda pop
4.      Medium or mild cheddar cheese
5.      Bananas
6.      Certain crackers
7.      Bread
8.      Mashed potatoes
9.      Bobbies (twin talk for Nutra Grain granola bars)
10.  Pancakes
11.  French toast
12.  Peanut butter & grape jelly sandwiches
13.  Cheerios
14.  Chocolate
15.  Ice cream

        So, the very next day, Evan, Emma and I were on our way to the grocery store.  I looked in my rear-view mirror, and Evan had that look of “deep-thought” upon his face.  At which point, I thought, this one is gonna’ be a doozy. 
        Emma asked, “Would you put number three on, please?”  (In layman’s terms that means the classical music station.  Emma liked classical; Evan liked rock-n-roll; Edie liked country.  Quite the diversification.) 
At any rate, Evan said, “You know what I want to do when I grow up, Mommie?”
Well, here it comes, I thought, but it turned out to be pretty harmless.  “What do you want to do?” 
“I want to get down underneath a cow and squeeze its breasts and get the milk out.”
         Then the sweet sound of that twin-bickering thing started.  It is one of those moments when I wish I had the tape recorder going (for posterity) so they could hear themselves and how they acted when they get older.  They still have their squabbling feasts, even on Facebook.

At any rate, Emma said, “I can’t believe it, Evan!  I thought you wanted to be a fireman.  You’ve always wanted to be a fireman, and NOW you want to be a FARMER?  Being a fireman, I thought, was much more better for you, Evan?"
Evan replied, “I don’t want to be a farmer, Emma!  I just said, ‘When I’m all-growned-up I just want to get down underneath the cow and squeeze the breasts, one time, just one time, and get the milk out, Emma!’  One time doesn’t make you a farmer does it, Mommie?”
There are sometimes when I really don’t want to get involved in their conversations unless I ultimately have to.  But this time I felt I had no choice.  “Well, true one time does not make you a farmer.  And it’s called milking a cow. And the breasts on a cow are called utters.  Please, don’t be upset with Emma.  She’s just trying to take care of you or something, I guess.”  Trying to change the subject or whatever I said, “Maybe Emma could milk the cow’s utters, too, someday.”
“Hey, I could one time!”
Evan said, “We wouldn’t be farmers, Emma.  Just milking the…the…the…the cow’s utters?”
“Yes, utters.”
Then Emma asked, “Evan, you still wanna’ be a fireman?”
“Yes, Emma.”  He paused…and then came the real whammy…in a real matter of fact way he said…“But I’m not going to eat the cow.”  And that was that, he glanced out the window with that look of deep thought again.
        Well, I told my parents these two stories.  So, two weeks later, Evan & Emma went to visit them in Michigan.  And my parents took them to…

their favorite petting zoo…at Kensington Park.

Where they go on hayrides.

And learn all sorts of new things…

like different ways to make maple syrup
(a staple product in their diet)…
And how to lead…



an animal out of its corral…

and, last but not least…

how to milk a cow, of course.

        Evan was a vegetarian for eleven years.  He eats everything but the kitchen sink.  It’s like my dad used to say, “Just wait until his taste buds explode, you’ll never get enough food in him.”