Lately, I’ve been fostering a morbid curiosity about things that I know I won’t like. I’m not sure when it started, but it may have a base in my vegetarianism. About ten years ago, I became a vegetarian. I made the decision in part because of some vaguely formed morality, but mostly for a girl. I stuck with, and continue to stick with it, almost entirely out of an existential compulsion. I don’t eat meat, because I’m a vegetarian. I’m a vegetarian, because I don’t eat meat.
Such a simple justification is really quite liberating. I worry about the implications of food only when I feel like it. I don’t mind people eating meat around me, and as long as my food isn’t composed of blood and sinews, I’ll happily stuff it in my maw. Most importantly, when people want to go out to eat, I have no qualms with whatever their choice is. I can usually find something on the menu. If anything, it makes ordering easier. I have fewer choices.
Of course, it can occasionally get frustrating. It is sometimes amazing at the complete lack of vegetarian choices on menus. I’ve realized that I just think of food differently than most people. Obviously meat is a non-essential element to a meal for me. It’s like any other ingredient. Some people don’t like lima beans. They don’t order things with lima beans. I don’t like meat. I don’t order things with meat.
That analogy falls apart in many restaurants, though. People that don’t like lima beans aren’t in a lot of danger of encountering a menu filled with lima bean dishes. They probably will never have to ask, “Excuse me, does this soup have a lima bean base?” They probably don’t have a lot of friends that say, “Man, I would really love to get a big bowl of lima beans. Do you want to go to Limey’s House of Lima Beans? Oh wait… that’s right.”
Early on in my vegetarianism, I went to Perkins in central Wisconsin and realized that I didn’t really have a lot to choose from. Even the salads were based around heaping helpings of ham or chicken. There was naught for the likes of me. Sure, I could order a dish and ask them to hold the meat, but that dish was designed with the meat as a fundamental element. Not only would I be paying for something that I wasn’t getting, but usually I would be removing the central feature of the plate. I was initially annoyed with these situations.
Eventually, however, it became sort of an adventure. What scraps could I gather up to make some sort of meal? Sometimes in meatcentric places there’s a half hearted entrée, but a lot of times I’m stuck with a curious selection of appetizers. But you’d be surprised at how satisfying a meal of cheese sticks is. Ten years on, I’m beginning to enjoy the excursions into unfamiliar territory. When a friend apologetically tells me he has an enormous hankering for a juicy steak, I’m starting to relish the opportunity to see exactly how screwed I would be in a steakhouse. Will there be some hidden concession to the odd vegetarian that ventures in, or will I be stuck with a Bloomin’ Onion.
And recently, I’ve realized that this curiosity extends to other inappropriate demographics. Is there something for me at a sports bar, even though I’m apathetic towards athletics? Am I missing out by snubbing the latest talking and dancing dog movie? Can I read Dan Brown and Dean Koontz and get anything out of them? If I let the barbarian hordes enter my self-constructed Ivory Tower, would I have a wonderful dinner with them?
No. Probably not. But maybe you, dear reader, can get some amusement out of my confusion. In this blog I’ll detail my excursions into entertainment that seemingly has nothing to offer me. I’ll eat at steakhouses and sports bars. I’ll watch movies by Michael Bay and Tyler Perry. I’ll read Twilight and Left Behind. Maybe I’ll find some dregs of flavor for my tastes. Maybe it’ll be like the time that I requested vegetarian at a wedding and got a grilled cheese sandwich.