There’s an old joke about vegetarians that goes like this …
Q: How can you tell if someone is a vegetarian.
A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.
This joke also works for Jehovah’s Witnesses, runners, and people trying to quit smoking, although the crazed look of desperation in the hopeful non-smoker’s eyes is also a dead giveaway. I almost became that person while at the grocery store. No, not the Jehovah’s Witness, runner or non-smoker, but the one who will tell people out of the blue that they don’t eat meat.
I’m not really a vegetarian, but more of a pescatarian, meaning I will eat seafood, which always feels wrong since we keep pet fish. Whenever I feed them, I wonder if they are concerned that I may be fattening them up for a future meal. I kind of wish I was a Presbyterian, so that when I take a walk I would be a Presbyterian pescatarian pedestrian. I’m a big fan of alliteration.
Anyway, I was strolling through the grocery store when I happened upon one of the free food tasting giveaways scattered throughout the store. Keep in mind that in the past, I used to eat the equivalent of one whole meal per weekend at the grocery store at these food tastings. This food kiosk that I happened upon was giving away micro-size Italian beef sandwiches, which is kind of an essential food item here in the greater Chicagoland area. I was somewhat obliged by local law to have a taste.
As I approached the kiosk, I saw the tray being extended in my direction and I heard the invitation to try one of their tasty sandwiches. I could feel the words rising up from my diaphragm like the bile that rises from my stomach whenever I think of Washington politics. All I needed to say was “No thank you,” but I could feel there were a lot more words coming like “Oh, no thanks, because you see, I don’t eat meat, for both health and humane reasons.” But I fought the urge. As I passed the kiosk, I faked a cough and although I know some words came out, I don’t think they identified me as a pescatarian … or Jehovah’s Witness, runner or reformed smoker. In the future, I think I need to stick to the bakery aisle with the free cookies.