Quitting meat — cold turkey

A few years ago, Rin hit me with something from which I’ve never fully recovered.

“I think I’m going to be a vegetarian,” she said.

I thought it was a phase. My wife who loved cheeseburgers, valued the perfect steak, ate bacon with abandon, demanded ham at Thanksgiving, and indulged in my pork steaks, decided to shun one of the four basic food groups — and cast aside a small, but terribly important, component of our relationship. We were carnivores!

In Rin’s defense, she never did take to fish or fowl — or what she would refer to simply as “bird.” No turkey. No chicken. But she always ate red meat.

So giving it up altogether was quite a shock to me.

What’s next? Cheering for the Cubs?

Without going into too much medical detail, she defended her actions by saying it made her feel better when she eliminated meat from her diet. I could go with that…for a week or so. I didn’t believe she’d be able to do it. Vegetables were never my wife’s thing. This was the woman who would order a salad — no tomatoes, no cucumbers, no celery, no broccoli. Just lettuce, some carrots if you got ’em, and some croutons. How could a woman, with no apparent interest in most veggies, all of a sudden shun meat and live on bowls of lettuce?

Well, she’s done it. She quit meat — cold turkey.

Again, in her defense, she hasn’t tried to convert me and the boys — although the middle child has been eating these little patties of nastiness called Boca burgers. As a family, we continue to go to places that serve meat. Rin has simply become Queen of the Side Items, especially at these great BBQ joints in Texas. And when she makes dinner at home, she’ll make lasagna — half meat, half cheese. She forgoes the taco meat and stuffs the tortillas with beans, rice and cheese. At KFC, she likes the cole slaw, green beans and mashed potatoes.

I’m really quite proud of her conviction. But it’s still really annoying, and I’m praying it’s just a phase. I could understand some of her actions if she’d never eaten meat before or if she was allergic. But, for example, she will frown and gag (it’s really fun when she does that) if green beans are cooked with pieces of bacon.

“There’s bacon in that.”

“You used to like bacon.”

“But I don’t anymore.”

“So you’re not going to eat them because they were cooked with some bacon?”

“Nope.”

“This sucks, Rin. Just eat them. It won’t hurt you.”

“I don’t care. I don’t want them and I don’t have to eat them.”

“Go to time out.”

Now, for any of you who actually think I could possibly send my wife to “time out,” you must know that I am joking. Seriously, people!

Moving on…

I must admit, before the negative comments start flying about my intolerance and being a bad husband, I’m a little too sensitive on this whole my-wife’s-a-vegetarian thing. I get embarrassed. I mean, like the story above, it’s a little bit of meat and shouldn’t make that much of a difference. Plus, I don’t like “scenes” — especially at restaurants. She sends food back if there’s a little bit of meat involved. I think: All that food going to waste because you can’t handle a little bit of something you used to like?

My Grandpa always tells the story about me when I was 5 years old. We were on vacation and eating a chicken dinner at our hotel. Grandpa didn’t care for the chicken. He said to me and Grandma,”When the waitress comes back, I’m going to tell her how bad this chicken is.” So, when the waitress returned, she said,”How is everything?” I piped up, as loud as I could: “The chicken is WONDERFUL!” You should have seen the look  from Grandpa.

When I brought up vegetarianism at work, a colleague summed it up like this: “Do you want to be a cow or a cheetah? One eats grass. One eats meat.”

Pause…Now, for any of you who just thought I called my wife a cow, you must know that is not the case. And if you know what I looked like (fat) compared to my wife (beautiful and skinny) you’d know that I use the above comment from a co-worker simply as an illustration of the topic, NOT as personification.

But I digress…

Like I stated earlier, this vegetarian business is my wife’s thing. My guess is that it’s more than a phase. Like she says, it’s not political — and she always stresses she’s NOT a vegan. That could be grounds for divorce. She’s actually taken it on in a tactful, non-invasive way. She’s not militant about it, but she’s determined. Maybe I just need to lighten up (cue: No duh, Ric!)

There are some benefits to her being a vegetarian:

* It saves on the budget

* If we’re at a banquet, I get two helpings of the rubber chicken.

* There is a lot of salad in the house, in case I need to diet.

* More meat for me!

So, I’ll live.

I know you were concerned.

The Jonathan Keegan illustration above can be found on the illustrator’s website