Share Play, Daddy (But Hold the Meat)

We made a little sandbox for Lennie. It’s just a big shallow rubbermade container filled with 50 pounds of sand. Now it’s filled with more like 49 pounds, as Lennie has dumped a bit out. She’s got a little shovel and rake and a bucket and some yogurt containers that she uses to move the sand around. The night we set it up, I was sitting in one of our foldy chairs nearby watching her play, and she came up to me and said “Share play, Daddy.” She’s asked M to share play a few times as well. What a wonderful synthesis of concepts this is. She knows sharing, and she knows playing, but she doesn’t know how to say “play with me” (which makes sense, because the connective tissue of that sentence is the abstract and almost meaningless “with”). So she combines two verbs she does know to communicate what she wants. It’s a great little innovation that I’m very proud of.

In other news, we’re thinking we’re going to try to lay off meat for a little while. More and more lately, meat has just grossed me out. Because good grilling weather is approaching again, I’ll feel like grabbing some nice big steaks, but when I go to the meat aisle and look at the glistening cold red slabs of flesh, I’m completely turned off by the idea. (The fact that the meat industry in America is terrible — that, for example, we have lower standards for domestic meat than countries we export to do, that we’ll feed our own people meat of a much lower grade than other countries will buy from us — doesn’t help.) Chicken hasn’t been bothering me as much, and we’ve eaten a fair amount of fish lately.

Partially in response to my being a little grossed out by meat and partially to get out of the food rut I’m in wherein I don’t feel like learning new recipes but am also tired of eating the same old things all the time, I sort of wanted to force a change on myself. I’m a slave to routine and the familiar, so making myself mix things up from time to time is good for me and will probably eventually keep me from turning into a recluse with ridiculously long fingernails who roams around the house with tissue boxes on his feet. So the other night, I made myself look up and decide to prepare some new recipes. Last night, I tried some black bean and artichoke burritos that were pretty good. I also picked up some tofu and am going to see if I can learn to like it (it’s never been my favorite). This is sort of an experiment, and I may decide I can’t live without meat and wind up going back to being an omnivore. For the moment, though, we’re going to try to avoid meat, and red meat in particular.

I should note that this isn’t part of some liberal hand-wringing for the poor animals or anything. It’s not a moral or an ethical issue. We’ve got teeth that are designed for tearing meat, for crying out loud (ugh, I’m teetering on the brink of the naturalistic fallacy there, I know). That said, I have thought for years that it was sort of bizarre that we decided at some point to chase small animals around to eat. I picture Og and Oog sitting by a fire. Suddenly, a rabbit darts out of the brush, and Og scratches his prodigious jutting forehead says to Oog, “see that cute little bunny? If you were to catch it, we could put it on this here fire and eat it.” To which Oog replies, “WTF? Last week it was ‘hey, jam this bone through your septum.’ Now this?” Maybe it didn’t play out quite like that, but the decision that it might be a good idea to chase around and consume other animals does seem a little bizarre to me.

My motivation for giving meat a rest is mostly just the gross-out factor, though. There’ve been times in my life during which I’ve gotten much of my nutrition from cold Chef Boy Ardee. During each of these phases, I’ve eventually grown sick and tired of the orange gelatinous tube of food and have laid off for a while. Now it’s meat’s turn.

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