Monday, August 28, 2017

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 Susan, 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 had changed her name to Sunflower in recent months and Jennifer was not yet accustomed to the switch.  They had been life-long friends  or age-old foes depending on the season  and it's no easy feat for anyone, no matter how how well-meaning or open-minded, to weed out deeply ingrained biases or readjust deterministic linguistic habits.  

It was therefore understandable that Jennifer would have trouble keeping Susan's new name straight. 

Susan did not see it that way. 

Though a self-identified empath with an open third eye and a dogeared copy of The Celestine Prophesy on her nightstand, Susan was not, in practice, sensitive to the struggles of another or to viewpoints she herself did not share. 

As an unsympathetic empath, then, Susan tended to be openly hostile towards anyone who did not refer to her as Sunflower, even if the "ignorant" person genuinely did not know she had changed her name.

It would appear in the current context, however, that Susan was foregoing her usual hostility in exchange for another tried and true tactic of those with a superiority complex who can't handle having their illusions questioned or opinions challenged: Pretend the "offending" person does not exist.

Susan, though, having never really possessed the courage of her convictions, could not keep up the pretense for long. The second Jennifer addressed her in the desired way, she (Susan) immediately slammed down the cleaver she'd been using to delicately slice the chicken, assumed a tight smile, took a deep breath and cheerfully exclaimed, "Jen! I didn't see you come in! Did you say something?"

But of course Susan knew perfectly well what Jennifer had said and before Jennifer could repeat herself, the cheerfulness drained from Susan'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!", Sunflower continued, quickly working herself up into a rant, "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!”

Susan (or Sunflower) appeared to be wilting under the strain of trying to be something she was not. But rather than consider the roots of her hypocrisy or give Jennifer a chance to speak, Sunflower angrily lit one of her organic cigarettes and with a dramatic swoosh of her bohemian skirt, 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, object and thing in the universe, inorganic, organic or otherwise, was on its own spiritual path to enlightenment, she claimed, and deserved a name that captured its true essence. As for Sunflower and her chosen rechristening, like most ideologically-driven people, she did not heed her own rhetoric and no more resembled a sunny flower than she did a vegetarian or a non-smoker.

In view of this most recent manifestation of Sunflower's aggression and volatility, Jennifer realized that her "friend" might truly be dangerous and for the sake of safety, decided to do as Sunflower demanded and not touch anything that belonged to the crazy woman. Jennifer further decided then and there that she would keep her distance until she could find her own apartment.

Still, it's difficult to find your own apartment when there is a shortage of affordable housing.  It's also difficult to keep one's distance when living in the same space, and as the weeks passed and the stress of trying to remain civil to an uncivil person wore on, Jennifer’s resentment towards Sunflower grew. 

It grew each time she opened the fridge and noted the partially-picked at, soon to start rotting carcass of Sunflower's organic chicken. It grew every time she 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. It grew with each new layer of Judith’s accumulating dust and the resulting sneezing fit Jennifer invariably launched into every time she walked by the armoire. But it grew the strongest whenever she overheard Sunflower misuse the word "organic".

Eventually, Jennifer's simmering resentment intensified to such a degree that she could stand it no longer. In a cleaning frenzy, she attacked the kitchen with a mop, Pine-Sol and dish soap. She threw the 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 ENRAGED 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 housecleaning incident, a chicken, a sunflower, two victims named Judith and Jennifer, and one assailant wielding a sawed-off broomstick.

In the mayhem and confusion that ensued, Sunflower, whose name as it turned out had not been legally changed, was taken away in handcuffs for later psychiatric evaluation.  Jennifer was checked over for any injuries and though shaken was deemed fine. She said she was just happy she wouldn't have to live with Susan any more and did not want to pursue criminal charges.

Judith was not available for comment.