A Raw Foody in a Hostile World

This past week I strayed from my raw food diet, and I’m really feeling the aftermath today, July 22nd. I do not identify myself as a ‘raw foodist’ or a ‘raw foody’ but I’ve experienced how hard the world can be for someone who is.

First, last Monday, July 16th, I visited a client who owns a pizza restaurant. Business is booming for him and he wanted to treat me and my friend to a large pizza with any toppings we wanted. I politely refused his generous offer and he was visibly bothered (so was my friend who thinks I’m some kind of hippie-freak for eating a mostly raw food diet). He, the restaurant owner, is Greek. I don’t know if his being Greek had anything to do with his upset over my refusal of his food. But he’s Greek anyway.

Now I had the generous Greek restaurant owner and my friend, a hungry Black man, silently glaring at me as if I slapped their Mothers with kneaded pizza dough. Man! The world can be a hostile place when you choose to eat raw!

There was no way out. I had to relent. ‘Ok, let’s do it,’ I said. Smiles and cheers broke out (no exaggeration!) and they were my friends again.

I did insist on the veggie-lover’s deluxe and would not compromise on that one. My friend, the once-angry, still hungry Black man, eyed me suspiciously but went along if only we could at least add extra cheese. Cool, no problem.

We ate. I ain’t gonna lie – that pizza was slap-your-Mama-in-the-face-GOOD!!! I refused to cave in to the guilt knocking at the door of my once-Catholic mind. Open that door and you get sin all over your Soul! No way!

We ate. The Greek restaurant owner was busy but made time to sit with us. He kept slapping me on the back and ejaculating laughs through his thick Greek accent as he recounted stories of life in Greece. He said something about me visiting him and taking his boat out on the Mediterranean. I told him I can’t swim. He laughed some more, spitting on my pizza as he did. I don’t like spit on my pizza. I severed the spat-upon piece from my slice. The Greek did not seem to care. He didn’t say anything, anyway. Pizza is acceptable every great once in a while when you eat raw, at least in my book it is.  But bodily fluids never are, unless you film movies in the San Fernando Valley. You know, the kind of movies with no scripts and where filming wraps up in one day….or one hour.

Visions of being on a boat in the Mediterranean swam through my mind. But if I have to eat food carrying his spit then I’ll pass. Or I can take a bag lunch.

Anyway, my friend couldn’t care less about the conversation. He ate and smiled. He has nice white teeth, straight and strong. The kind I always wished I had. My teeth are uneven and have spaces between them that scream for braces. But a dentist once told my Mother, when I was about 12 or 13 yrs. old, that I didn’t need braces and that, in fact, the spaces were preferable because it was easier to floss and get the food particles out from between them. I never floss to this day; and to this day I still hate that dentist.

Later in the week I went to the airport to pick up the CEO of the company where I work in my lingering day job as I explode my coaching and writing work. The day job is business-to-business sales and I’m one of the best they got and I know that. So do they. So they wanted me to spend the day with the CEO.

I picked him up at the airport and the pre-introduction was awkward. Spotting him upon my approach, I pulled over at a curb as he stood about 6 feet from it and about 15 feet in front of where I pulled over. Apparently, he wanted me to pull my vehicle up to exactly where he stood so that all he had to do was reach out his manicured fingers to pull the handle and get in. I didn’t get the memo on that. So I pulled away from the curb and started toward him as he headed toward me at the same time, waving me off with an abrupt wave that signaled annoyance.

His head was completely shaved, like mine. He wore a sharp suit and a nice tie. I don’t wear ties. In fact, I can’t stand ties. They look goofy. I like suits though. But I don’t own a suit either.

He put his briefcase in the back of my SUV and sat in the passenger seat. We did the usual, expected exchange of names. Then he immediately got on a conference call. He pretty much ignored me the whole way to the office, about a 45 minute drive thru heavy traffic. My visions of wowing this guy and getting the instant promotion to vice president over other slaves didn’t exactly pan out. I wasn’t discouraged though. I knew we’d have the whole day together and that my chance would come. I would show him that a consumer of raw food can be just as ambitious and driven as any bloodthirsty carnivore.

He finally gave me some of his time and attention a bit later in the day as we drove away from the office after a divisional sales meeting which was pretty cool, actually. Anyway, I found out he was from the Bronx, like me. Gun Hill Road, in fact. Same area as J-Lo, aka, the pretty judge on American Idol. No wait, that’s Steven Tyler. Anyway, I think J-Lo is from Gun Hill Road in the Bronx….or is it Castle Hill Avenue? I get those 2 Hills mixed up. Oh well, they ain’t exactly Beverly Hills, I know that.

He schooled me on what it takes to get ahead with the company and that he heard good things about me. Hmmm, was this where I would get the promotion and the six-figure salary and company credit card?? Nah, didn’t happen. But I got some free consulting from a CEO. I can’t buy smoothies with that though.

Finally, lunch time came around and the CEO was treating. My Manager was riding with us, in the back seat. The CEO spoke to him the entire time we were in the vehicle. I was just the driver. So, I thought, this is what it’s like when you get hand-picked to hang with the CEO. You stay invisible and you don’t talk. Still waiting for my chance to impress the big boss.

Of all places, they picked a Brazilian restaurant! In case you don’t know about Brazilian restaurants, they’re blood-fests. It’s man-food for real men served by beautiful, voluptuous women. It’s like Hooters but with more meat, the cooked kind and the kind with flirtatious smiles.

We sat down and opted for the all-you-can-eat buffet. The CEO, being the uber alpha male at the top of the food chain, had his plate of food before I could even get my things settled into the seat next to me. I looked at his plate – there was sirloin, lamb, chicken. All meat, nothing else. I stared at his plate with a mixture of admiration and Pepto Bismol.

I asked him, ‘Are you on the Atkins Diet?’

‘Not at all. I eat only protein to keep me going all day. This is the diet of success, Sariyd. If you wanna get anywhere in life you gotta eat meat.’

I swear he looked like an Ork as he spoke! A picture ran through my mind of the Ork yelling for ‘man-flesh’ ready to eat the hobbits.

I made my way to the food station. Rice, red beans, black beans, sweet plantain, fried potatoes, chicken, chicken, more chicken, shredded beef, shredded pork. And behind me was what looked like a bar except that they had meat cooking on spits over open fires – chicken, beef, pork, lamb, sirloin steak.

I peeked back at the table and the CEO was looking right at me. Damn! What do I do?? If I don’t eat any meat then it would be like telling the CEO to shove this job up his ass! And if I eat the meat I just might tell him to shove the job up his ass. The taste of blood can do that to a man!

What about my principles? Wait, what principles? I eat mostly raw food for chrissakes! It’s not like I swore an oath to defend the Constitution! Besides, this has to be part of the plan, the big vision, right? Eat the meat, get the promotion, the 6-figure salary, the Visa, and the right to torture other slaves on the corporate rack, right??? Isn’t this the American Dream????

The ‘meat-tender’ looked at me with that eager look of a guy who knows he’s about to sell you an overpriced Ford Pinto. Not good. I was buying anyway, gas tank and all.

‘Some chicken and some lamb,’ I said as beads of cold sweat collected on my forehead. I peeked back at the CEO. Our eyes met again. This time he was grinning, sweating, blood dripping onto his nice tie. Welcome to your future, Sariyd.

I joined them at the table. I heard grunts, burps and occasional words like, ‘good’, ‘more’, and ‘bathroom’. I didn’t know Orks knew what bathrooms were.

I started with the rice and beans and the sweet plantain. It was good…cooked, I know, but tasty and, for me, homey. It reminded me of my Mother’s rice and beans except hers was much better. I avoided the chicken and lamb for as long as I could.

Then the Ork said, ‘What’s the matter, Sariyd, don’t like meat?’

‘Sure I do. I’m working my way to it, that’s all. Saving the best for last.’

‘You know what happens to people who save the best for last? They never get it, Sariyd! Take it while you can, man! Take it now!’

His lips were painted with blood and grease as he gave his motivational speech. I wanted to slap him over and over with a drumstick while screaming, ‘What’s the frequency, Kenneth!!??’

I ate my plate of food and was able to shut down my thoughts and awareness while slowing down my breathing. I was like a freakin’ yogi, man! Nothin’ like a blood-covered, sell-out session to bring you to transcendent consciousness!

Next thing I knew, my plate was empty of food. Only chunks of greasy fat remained to be thrown out with the trash and my pride with it.

We left the restaurant and walked right into a torrential downpour. The gods were displeased! I invited their wrath by dining with an Ork!

The rest of the day was a blur. The fat of putrefying flesh coated my eardrums as the CEO droned on about projections for the Boston territory, scaling the business, and battling enemies for territory. I gave up on the idea of the promotion and all the rest of that crap. I just wanted to go home and take an enema.

I finally dropped off the CEO at the airport but not before he spoke to me about becoming a Sales Team Leader and then Manager to develop territory for the company. I responded agreeably and we shook hands. His bald head bounced as he walked. From behind, Orks look just like Humans, I thought.

So here we are, it’s Sunday and I feel like crap. My energy is low, my body feels 400 pounds heavier, and my outlook is dimmed. Then I hear Solomon laugh and I realize how blessed I am so I join him for some good Father-Son play and laugh.

Last week I indulged in pizza, rice, beans, and flesh and today I am experiencing the consequences of those choices (which I do not regret, by the way). A couple of days of raw food, water, exercise and trips to the bathroom will take care of that.

And somewhere in the underground waters, the ones assigned to carry our waste and filth, travel the remains of last week’s carnage…..and with them go the happily-discarded dreams of corporate success and trips to the Mediterranean.

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