Irreverence with Sass to go
My friend Tricia walks her dogs Buddy and Sadie at the park. These walks are not only good for her dogs, but also good for the other people who are also walking their dogs, because being a dedicated, ethical vegan animal rights activist, she uses every opportunity to bring the plight of animals to the attention of anyone who will listen to her (and even to those who really don't want to listen to her). As a result, she's had many a verbal adventure, some of which you can read in her own blook, Tricia Times.
This story is not about one of those verbal adventures. Rather, it is a lesson in the skilful dispensation of information.
A while ago, Tricia met a couple in the dog park. The man was a radiologist which means he specialized in using radiation to diagnose and treat disease as opposed to being someone who spends his time fixing or listening to radios. His wife, on the otherhand, was a talkologist which essentially means she talked a lot. The subject of her attention at this time happened to be herself.
It seems that she was a maker of soaps and lotions that would shame any product that Oil of Olay could produce. In those commercials, the woman uses the catch slogan "How old do you think I am?", but in this one that Tricia was politely enduring, there was no such question. Instead there was a recurring refrain that played to the following tune "I am 60 and I don't look it at all, because I make and use my own soap and lotion". Tricia did agree with her for she estimated her visual age at about 66, but did not offer to discuss these calculations.
The person continued with a dissertation of the importance of getting mammograms and pap smears. When this had finished, Tricia used the lull to reveal that she does not do any of that stuff. She was immediately and severely reprimanded with words to the effect that "When you get to my age, you'll regret being so reckless" and "You young women should really take your health seriously". Poor Tricia, what could she say to such well-intentioned advice?
Well, she didn't really get a chance to say anything, because capitalizing on the elevated position acquired by virtue of being an elder, the woman intended on pursuing her advantage. "How old are you?" came the inevitable and probing question.
Cornered, Tricia had no option but to tell her what she wanted to know. "I'll be 61 in November" came the reply. This proved to be too much for the radiologist who burst out laughing either because he didn't believe Tricia or because he was delighted that someone had made the copyright on his wife's refrain rather invalid.
Still hoping to salvage something, the woman asked Tricia what her birthday was and upon learning it turned to her husband with the indignant words "a sassy and irreverent scorpio" (though she grudgingly admitted she thought Tricia was much younger).
So, since the gates of sass and irreverence had now been opened up, Tricia took the opportunity to tell her two listeners that she was vegan. A vegan avoids using products taken from animals. For example, a vegan will not consume meat, milk or eggs because these items are taken forcibly from sentient beings (nor will a vegan wear leather or fur, of course). The woman appeared to have some idea of what the term meant, for she questioned Tricia as to why she would give up meat for her health, yet not go to doctors for mammograms and pap smears.
Tricia's answer was that she did not become vegan for health reasons, but because she refused to contribute to the cruelty inflicted by humans upon animals. Perhaps, it was the ancient Greek Plutarch who came to speak through her:
"But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy."
She told them that good health was a natural result of being vegan for not only is your conscience clean, your body is free from animal proteins that it just can't process properly. Echoing the McCartneys' words regarding what people would do if slaughterhouses had glass walls, Tricia added, "If you knew what goes on in factory farms and slaughterhouses, you'd become vegan too".
It is difficult to argue against this. People can bury their conscience in the deep recesses of their minds, but they cannot eliminate it.
I think Tricia may have helped this lady reach down into those recesses to at least look for that conscience, for she gave Tricia her email address. While I have little doubt that she hopes she may be able to look younger by following Tricia's vegan example, I also think she longs to regain that time in her youth when kindness and compassion were the spirits that guided her.