Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Vegetarian who ate Organic Chicken

Sunflower was a vegetarian who ate organic chicken. She did not see any problem with this obvious contradiction, but her roommate, Jennifer, did: “But Sue, you can’t call yourself a vegetarian if you eat meat!”

Sunflower ignored Jennifer and continued slicing into a thigh.

“Oh, right,” Jennifer rolled her eyes when she realized her mistake, “Sunflower?”

Susan (or Sue) had changed her name to Sunflower in recent years and Jennifer was not yet accustomed to the change. Jennifer had known Susan, Sue or Sunflower – whatever the hell she wanted to be called – since childhood, so it was no wonder Jennifer was having a difficult time keeping the new name straight.

What made the situation more unpleasant than necessary, as far as Jennifer was concerned, was that Sunflower refused to answer to her birth name, Susan, and could be straight out hostile about being referred to as anything but Sunflower. This was particularly jarring for people she hadn’t seen in a while and didn’t even know she had changed her name.

However, now that Jennifer had addressed Sunflower in the correct manner, the older woman immediately came to life and cheerfully exclaimed, “Jen! I didn’t see you come in. Did you say something?”

But Sunflower knew perfectly well what was said and before Jennifer could repeat her initial question, the cheerfulness drained from Sunflower’s voice and she snapped, “It’s organic!” as if the word “organic” granted meat a pardon from not being a vegetable.

“And another thing! I don’t want YOU or any of your friends touching my organic chicken! If you touch any of my stuff I’ll call the police!”

Sunflower was quickly beginning to wilt under the strain of trying to be something she was not. But rather than consider her hypocrisy, Sunflower opted to angrily light one of her organic cigarettes and with as much dramatic flare as she could muster, stormed out of the kitchen, bumping into Judith along the way. “Judith!" she screamed, "you’re always in the way!!”

Judith was an antique armoire Sunflower had found at a flea market.

Sunflower named all her material possessions. Every person and object in the universe was on its own spiritual path to enlightenment, she claimed, and deserved a name that captured its true essence. But, as is the case with many people, Sunflower did not heed her own ideological rhetoric and no more resembled a sunny flower than she did a vegetarian or a non-smoker.  Jennifer decided it was probably best to keep her distance from this deranged woman she no longer knew with her peculiar, contradictory beliefs and misuse of the word "organic".

Nevertheless, it is difficult to keep one's distance when living in the same place, and as the days and weeks passed, Jennifer’s resentment grew each time she opened the fridge and saw the partially-eaten organic chicken that she had agreed she wouldn't touch. This resentment was stoked further every time Jennifer eyed Sunflower’s unwashed dishes sitting by the sink, or smelled the stench of organic cigarette butts left smoldering in ashtrays all over the house. Then there was the problem of Judith’s accumulating dust, which only added even more fury to Jennifer’s intensifying rage.

By the 4-week mark, Jennifer could stand it no longer. In a cleaning frenzy, she attacked the kitchen with a duster, Pine-Sol and dish soap. She threw the rotting chicken carcass and its container into a trash bag, noting that it wasn’t even organic. It was an ordinary rotisserie bird bought on sale at the independent supermarket.

Sunflower was furious when she later discovered what Jennifer had done and promptly called 911.

“I need to report a crime!” she shrilled into the phone, but stopped mid-sentence when she noticed Judith standing there, gleaming and dust-free.

Hyperventilating, still with the phone to her ear, she yelled at Jennifer in disbelief, ”What did you DO TO JUDITH?? YOU ASSAULTED her!! How DARE you!!!”

The police arrived shortly thereafter. They had received a call about an altercation involving a chicken, a sunflower, two victimized women named Judith and Jennifer, and one maniac named Susan.

In the mayhem that ensued, Sunflower, whose name as it turned out had not been legally changed, was taken away in handcuffs for assaulting both Judith and Jennifer over a housecleaning disagreement. Sunflower was not taken to prison, mind you – she was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.

Judith was not available for comment.

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