Today, during one of my meetings, I was discussing privilege, especially White privileges and its impact on educational advocacy. (What, doesn’t everyone discuss that?). I said, “Well, I know I have male privilege. There are lots of advantages I have because I’m a guy.” “Yeah, you do have male privilege,” said my companion, a feisty 50-year-old woman, “and cute-male privilege, too.” Wha? Really? Cute-male privilege? Aw, shucks, I said, winking at her with my one eye that doesn’t twitch. Needless to say, she’s my new favorite person.
This weekend, it snowed on St. Patrick’s day, and I watched from my window as the snow fell on the cherry blossoms and daffodils. It was sublime and poetic. And by sublime and poetic, I mean it was annoying. The cherry blossoms are now frost-bitten and the plum-blossoms, so vibrant before, now look craptacular.
On Sunday, we invited an organic vegan family over: Harriet, her husband Jim, and their little eight-year-old boy, Daniel. Of course, these are all fake names, so that you won’t send them anonymous hate mail to tell them off for not having a TV and depriving their son of pop culture. Seriously, no TV for Daniel. Poor kid has to make ceramics or weld a coat rack or something, I don’t know, whatever it is that kids who don’t watch TV do for fun.
Anyway, they usually invite us over for dinner, cooking up awesome food, food so healthy and organic that you feel your cells regenerating with each bite. This time, I felt bad that they were always cooking, so I said, “Hey, why don’t you come over to our place and we’ll cook instead,” which was a really bad idea, like that one time I was like, “Hey, maybe I should go into social work…”
“OK,” they said, “we’ll bring a salad!”
Crap, we thought, we didn’t know how to cook organic stuff! We generally avoid organics whenever possible. They’re expensive, and they quickly decompose. I like my broccoli to cost 99 cents a pound and be perfectly green after 4 weeks in the fridge, and still taste delicious, minus the migraines afterward. We looked up some recipes that looked easy enough, and I went shopping while Jameelah stayed at home and put away Raid, Windex, Chlorox wipes, turpentine, paint thinner, and our asbestos sculpture.
At the market, I was trying to intellectualize every purchase. “Sure, this can of cannelli beans is $2.89, and I need 4 of them, and while the non-organic beans are only 79 cents a can, just think, I can live a second longer for every organic bean I eat.” The tiny jar of tomato paste, of which we only needed two tablespoons, was $3. Organic bread, $5 a loaf. 2 organic yellow onions, $7 total. Organic scallions, $2.50, times 2. “Yes, these will be so good for us,” I thought, “it will counter the all the processed food we ate yesterday.” I bought organic sea salt, organic quinoa, organic garlic, 1/4pound of organic cashews in the bulk section for $5, a can of organic chickpeas for $3, a can of organic tomatoes for $4. An eggplant for $4, 2 zuchinnis for $3. So…healthy…and…good for the environment…
At home, we started panicking. We couldn’t find organic arrowroot powder! What about black pepper? I forgot the organic black pepper, and the organic silken tofu, we were doomed! They would be able to sniff it out, and we would be marked as terrible, insensitive hosts. Little Daniel might have an allergic reaction, being organic all his life!
At 5:45pm, they showed up, 15 minutes early, frazzling us both, since we looked like crap. But being college-style, I didn’t care, and came to greet them with hands smelling like $7 of organic onions.
“Here, have a drink,” I said, “it’s my chocolate milkshake martini.” Harriet stared at it. “What’s in it? Is it vegan?” It turns out that Harriet and Jim are pretty easygoing. They liked our food, and appreciated that we tried to make everything organic. They brought a huge salad that had 20 different kinds of organic vegetables, fruit, and nuts in it, mixed with a soy-yogurt-with-probiotics-and-tarragon dressing. The whole salad probably cost $80 dollars to make. “Half of our income goes to food,” they said, “but we think it’s worth it.”
“Yum,” we said, “have some of this moussaka,” which is some sort of lasagna-like dish comprising layers of potatoes, eggplant, zucchinis, covered in tomato sauce and topped with a layer of cashew-silken-tofu mixture and baked.
“It’s delicious,” they said, and I cringed, feeling like we were feeding them poison with the non-organic tofu. It’s like Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” watching little Daniel eat the moussaka. What if his system is not used to nonorganic stuff? What if it makes him ill? He might never weld another coat rack again! He was very well-behaved, happily eating all his food without complaints, and with each bite of the moussaka, my guilt grew and I wanted to smack his fork away, yelling, “Don’t eat it! You have so much to live for!” But then I realized he didn’t have TV.
Afterward, we played several Mensa-approved card games designed to improve people’s IQ. All in all, we actually had a great time. “Let’s do this again soon,” they said, and we said “absolutely.” As soon as they left, I broke out a package of Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, which are basically corn chips flavored with chemicals. Definitely not organic, but so damn good.
(Who wants the rest of our organic tomato paste? Too late. It decomposed in the fridge).