Tofu_weiner_180I became a vegetarian when I graduated from college and moved in with roommates who were vegetarians. They taught me how to cook, there was no meat in the house, and I realized that I’d never cared much for meat. The vegetarianism lasted two decades. Now, I’m a recovering vegetarian.

Vegetarianism took me to the herbal side of grocery shopping. I frequented the “health food stores” and “natural food markets” to find the best of what I would eat. (This was before the giant corporations, such as Whole Foods, stomped all the mom and pops to death.)

So, long story short: I’m standing at the checkout at Northwest Natural Foods about to pay. Some fellow bursts through the sunny doors and asks urgently, somewhat breathlessly,

“Do you have any vegetarian weiners?”

Though he was surely addressing this neither to me nor to the other customers behind me, I leapt into the line of fire and said the first thing that came to mind which, of course, was…

I’ve got your vegetarian weiner…
right here.”

I thought this was funny because you are what you eat, and, well, since I was a vegetarian, then, all my parts must be vegetarian. I didn’t actually point to my privates, my own, er, vegetarian weiner. I didn’t have to. My dramatic, smiling expressiveness made perfectly clear where I had stocked my vegetarian weiner and where this hungry shopper would have to grab it from the meat(less) department.

The uproarious laughter didn’t happen. Quite to the contrary, in fact. I looked around for some sort of congratulations from my vegetarian “family” — heavily pierced clerks, pale customers — only to see their very earnest faces, somewhat crushed by the man who clearly knows no decency (that’s me). In the doorway stood another man, a vegetarian man whose only crime was to crave a vegetarian weiner enough to rush into a vegetarian safe house — only to find the opposite of vegetarian safety. He was met by some sort of vegetarian predator, whose appetite and mouth knew no bounds.

[Alisa read this post and reminds me: “I remember that you returned to the car with the groceries where I was waiting with Helen who was about four at the time. You were clearly verklempt. Helen said, ‘What happened, Dad?’ You told us and we laughed but we asked, “Why would you say such a thing? What are you trying to tell us?”]