This has been weighing on me recently and I have to confess something: I ate a garden burger.
I’m not proud of it. I do my best to avoid soy like barefoot runners avoid their true feelings. In fact, I live life by hard and fast rules and one of them is If my dinner never had a face, then it ain’t got no taste. But in a moment of weakness, I gave in and ate a veggie burger. I don’t really have a good excuse either which is why it’s taken me so long to admit this.
I spent the day watching four soccer matches (which involves all of us parents standing along the sideline pretending that we want anyone else’s kid to do well - yeah, right), then exhaustedly stumbled into the arena’s in-house restaurant and next thing you know I was saying “I’ll have the garden burger”. I knew immediately that I’d never live it down. There were audible astonished gasps from the next table. I might as well have ordered a plate full of salted puppy livers – extra large order – because even if I don’t eat them all at least they look cool piled high on a plate. Also, fuck the puppies.
Who orders a garden burger? I bet the kitchen was scrambling trying to fill that order. They probably just chucked some diced carrots into some rotted, unseasoned beef and sent it out. Who’s going to know the difference? Hippies don’t normally hang out at a soccer complex.*
In a few minutes, the light beige, vegetable bespeckled patty appeared in front me. I don’t know who was snickering but I definitely heard snickers. And don’t think I didn’t notice how the waitress set it down in front of me with a smirk and a carefully worded introduction, “Here’s your gaaar-den burger.”
I didn’t look around but I’m pretty sure everyone was staring at me and taking side bets as to whether or not I’d eat it. You know, a “fifty bucks the Smails kid picks his nose” type situation. But here’s another unfortunate hard and fast rule I live by: Never admit you’re wrong or did something uncool. If I’m walking down a sidewalk and stumble over a raised portion of concrete, I keep jogging right after I regain my balance just to show everyone that I really did want to run right now. Not an accident; I didn’t trip. If I mistakenly consume a spoonful of French dressing from a bowl before realizing it wasn’t tomato soup, I keep eating until I’ve finished the entire bowl. That way, no one knows for sure if it was a mistake or not or if it actually was tomato soup.
So I ate the garden burger. I even forced a defiant, triumphant smile to show all of the others - who I wouldn’t make eye contact with - that I really WANTED a veggie burger, don’t regret ordering it, and it was delicious, and aren’t you the fool for not ordering one for yourself! The truth is, it didn’t really taste like…anything. It was like being a POW and receiving a blob of unidentifiable gooey sustenance on a plate that you need in order to survive. You just joylessly eat it. That’s how I consumed the veggie burger. The MMMM’s and tummy patting YUMMY’s were for everyone else.
A little bit of me died that day though. It’s like when you go to chew your fingernail and realize that there was the tiniest amount of booger shard still on your finger from the nosescaping job 30 seconds before that and that booger shard is now in your mouth. There’s no walking it back. That. Just. Happened. You live with it and move on.
I like to eat healthy but only on my terms. That means, for every carrot or broccoli or Activia yogurt I consume, there’s a fudge stripe cookie or handful of jelly beans brought in to balance the equation. If nutrition is a teeter-totter rotating between Nutritious and Non-nutritious, you want to try to balance the plank without either side touching the ground. Don’t be an extremist.
It should have been enough to get a regular hamburger without cheese. Instead, I tried to go a step further and threw off my equilibrium. That night, I missed out on the lump in the gut a nice, greasy slab of beef creates. I missed out on the bloating and the inability to poop for the next 24-36 hours. Instead, I felt light, carefree and fresh just like the ladies canoeing in their white dresses and white parasols in a tampon commercial. My bowel movement was fast and furious the next morning.
I missed out on the entire uncomfortable way a burger makes its way through the gastro-intestinal system all for what? For WHAT?!?
I’m sorry that I ate a garden burger. I’m sorry to everyone that had to watch me eat this abomination. Mostly, I’m now sorry that I’ve told you about it.
I don’t even have the heart to mention that I also got a water to drink.
*Unless they are playing which, truth be told, they ARE judging by the number of pony tailed men in the place.