Thursday, April 19, 2007

Remembering Meat

I recall the texture of gristle. The nubs of white fat in the ground-up mash of hamburgers. The pulled-fat feel of striations in steak. The soft middle whites of otherwise crispy bacon. I remember my revulsion.

“Eat your steak,” my mother would tell me. “Gordon, tell her to eat her steak,” she commanded my father.

“Eat your steak,” my father would tell me.

Tears would drip from my eyes.

“I can’t,” I’d whine, a child shackled to a butcher-block kitchen table by a hunk of cartilage.

“Gordon,” my mother would say.

My struggle felt Greek in proportions. I would plead with my eyes with one of our two dogs: Please, Ellie. Please come let me pet your head and give me something to do other than not eat this meat.

“Leave the dog alone,” my mother would say.

Twenty years after I ingested my last meat on purpose (a hot dog at summer camp; a hippie/arts project founded in the 1940s as a war-effort farm and cannery), I can watch a man rip apart pork ribs with his teeth and be fine. Until I hear him crunch it.

That’s what happened last night, and that’s when I spoke out loud about how clearly I remember meat. It was the sound of gnashing in his mouth that flooded my brain with meat memories, and also memories of anger, yelling, suburban doom and desolation.

“I can’t crunch bones with my teeth quietly,” he said.

“That was the best sentence anyone’s said to me all week,” I said, going on to suggest ways to muffle the sounds of his chewing: Stuff cotton wool in his gums. Line his mouth with soundproofing of some kind.

Chew more quietly.

"No," he said.


Stay tuned for the next chapter of “Remembering Meat,” in which a little girl cries more and a grown woman examines “the yank of meat away from bone.” There may also be violence. And possibly fish.


At 8:30 PM, Blogger cy said...

you made my stomach turn and my heart ache with remembrance of growing up with massive amounts of meat cooked in epic proportions.

"you'll stay short if you don't eat meat!"

oh, but mum, i did eat that meat you forcibly piled a top my porcelain bowl. and i am all grown up now and i still am short.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger mcbickle said...

"all grown up now and i still am short." and my parents thought i would die. i haven't yet, and likely, it will not be from lack of meat product.

i escaped the mad cow outbreak of 1996 in england, and all it did was allow me to never, ever donate blood again. "but i didn't eat any meat when i was there," i say. "doesn't matter," they tell me. i guess i've saved some cows and not some people regardless. interesting.

is coffee meat?
can i please have some more then?

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Squarehead said...

Wow. My father was wounded in WWII.
He never eats ribs. In a field hospital on some Pacific island he lay awake listening to the doctors crack another man's ribs open in some attempt to save the guy's life. It didn't work. I had just enlisted when he told me that story, it made me feel kind of sick. This piece here, "Remembering Meat" kind of makes me feel the same way. Very well written. Pardon the expression but, also food for thought? (note the pathetic attempt at humor)

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like being a vege - it gives me a warm glow of moral superiority. Which clearly makes me a shallow and morally inept person. I can live with that.
AD xx

At 2:20 PM, Blogger mcbickle said...

it's all about accepting yourself, AD, green-blooded shallow veins and all. some of us like you that way.

what i really like about naming a post "remembering meat" is how many links to google ads i'm getting that just say things like: "Meat."

and sq: that is just nasty. although fascinating. rib-cracked-man /= rib-cracked meat, but somehow it does. (why is there no goddamned motherfucking symbol for "does not equal" on a keyboard?)

(sorry, temporary tourette's. so the Welder calls it. witness his texts to me the other day:

"so fucking nice out. fuck shit fuck mother-fuck gift wrapped bitch slap nice. fuck."

i had no idea what to respond with, so i wrote, "OK."

so he came back with: "It's temporary tourettes. nice."

and...fucking fin.)

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Squarehead said...

It's the fumes that eminate from the burning tip on the welding rods, that's what causes that. I think, well it sounds fucking shit good motherfucker. now what the hell? this shit is catchy.


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