"Put Your Shoes On, We’re At Grandma’s."

CDP Headquarters.
(Me and the Missus crunch some numbers at CDP Headquarters.)

Yeah, I’ve got nothing today.

Because of this, I’m opening up the comment section to anything you want to talk about. 4th of July plans? Vacations? Stuffing corpses in your crawl space? Sound off, and I’ll be back with new stuff next week. If you’re feeling so inclined, come up with a good caption for this photo.

MONDAY:
10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I DIE.

Tin Roof Rusted.

I’m working on a lot of things right now, including the heavily-anticipated Post #400 (which will arrive in a couple weeks). To tide you over in the meantime, here are the last 20 Wikipedia articles I’ve read in my never-ending quest to become the most brilliantest man in the world. I try to take in about 50 new articles a week, concerning anything and everything interesting that I may or may not know about. Check out a few of them for yourself; you might learn something:

Yoko Ono
Simpsons Neologisms
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Synaesthesia
Asperger Syndrome
Thomas Pynchon
Salman Rushdie
J.D. Salinger
Jandek
The Shaggs
Azaria Chamberlain Disappearance
Passive Aggressive
Taos Hum
Ball Lightning
Warren Buffett
Philip Taylor Kramer
Beatles Butcher Cover
The Misfits
Spontaneous Human Combustion
Francis Bacon

What are you Wiki-ing? Sound off in the comments section and let us know.

I had a dream the other night that I was walking alone through a crowded mall. The overhead speakers were blasting the song “Love Shack” by The B-52’s, and everyone was dancing and singing to beat the band. Everywhere I looked, customers and patrons were shaking their asses while pushing strollers, sucking down Orange Julius’ and carrying armloads of bags. It appeared as if they were all having a great time.

Just then, a young man pushing a stroller whizzed past me. He was a white-gangsta’ wannabe, wearing impossibly baggy clothing, rocking a sideways baseball cap and sporting a huge medallion. He was also singing loudly and moving to “Love Shack,” all while violently wrenching around the stroller, which was carrying a newborn baby.

I was concerned for the infant, so I confronted the man. “Dude, be careful!” I said. “You’ve got a baby in there!”

The man stopped his song and dance, looked up and grabbed me by the collar. I could tell he was pretty angry as he pushed me up against the window of a Barnes & Noble.

Looking right into my eyes with all the seriousness and emotion in the world, he said:

“She’s sixteen years old.”

He then jerked my collar free and let me go. I woke up seconds later.

I’ve chosen to have myself voluntarily committed. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Give Me Some Skin.

Give me some skin.

To me, the start of summer only means one thing: 90 straight days of mind-blowing sunburns.

As an embarrassingly pale man, getting a sunburn is about as easy as beating Shaq in a game of ‘Horse.’ I needn’t be outside for more than a picosecond to instantly transform my baby-smooth exterior into a mass of pink, stingy nerve endings. From June 3, right up until September 10, I’m rendered freakish and unpleasant in the eyes of friends and neighbors; invitations to parties cease and desist. Nobody wants to see Old Creepy McBurnyface singing karaoke; it tends to bring down a room.

The term ‘tan’ is not in my vocabulary. This word means nothing to me; sort of like ‘zork’ and ‘scalene.’ Unless I liberally lubricate my pores with SPF-Nuclear Holocaust lotion, I’m screwed.

A few years ago, me and the Missus went to an outdoor concert. I asked her to put lotion on my face, making sure she knew how susceptible I was to UV rays. She did not take this warning seriously, and carelessly streaked a few drops of lube across my melon. When the show was over, it looked as if I wanted to highlight certain parts of my forehead that were more important than the others.

And now, an awful story from my childhood.

In the late 80’s to early 90’s, I helped out on my family’s dairy farm during the summer. One summer weekend in particular left me with the Queen Mother of all sunburns on my legs. I had been wearing shorts, and the result left me looking like I was wearing a permanent pair of red socks. from the knees to the ankles, I was charred beyond recognition.

I took care of my crimson legs for days on end, gently soaking and aloe-izing them before I went to bed each night. Even at such a young age, I was an expert at the art of third-degree burn treatment. I had experienced many a sunburn by that point in my life, but I knew that this one was different- even special, somehow. I didn’t realize why I felt that way until the big day finally came.

I woke up on a humid Sunday morning and swung my wok-fried stumps over the edge of the bed. That’s when I noticed the beginnings of a peel on each of my calves. Wide-eyed, with a skilled and steady hand, I proceeded to peel off my skin like an honest-to-goodness sock, producing two snake-like sheddings, each about a foot long. It took me about a half-hour, and they were absolutely beautiful. I held these giant hunks of flesh up for inspection, and everything suddenly became well worth the wait.

I couldn’t let these go to waste. I had to do something with them. But what?

My attention focused to the small, black-and-white television I had in my room. The reception from this TV was horrible, and no matter which way I manipulated the rabbit ears, I got nothing but static and white noise. However, I did notice that the picture came in much better as long as I kept my hands on the antennas.

Scientifically speaking, I now know that the reason for this is because we humans give off a certain amount of electricity, which acts as kind of a booster for the TV antenna. As a child, all I knew was that I couldn’t hold onto the antenna and watch the tube at the same time. Perhaps I could fake the TV out somehow, by making it think I was holding onto the rabbit ears.

I think you know where I’m going with this.

Imagine the look on my Mom’s face when she walked into my room, only to see me watching a television with two giant balls of human skin affixed to the antennas.

I Want A Suburban Home.

Old and busted.
Old and Busted – Current location of CDP Headquarters.

New hotness.
New Hotness – Future location of CDP Headquarters.

We’re moving, you see. The date is September 1.

Location-wise, this place is less than a block away from our old one, which allows us to stay in our retirement community neighborhood and remain the youngest couple on the grid. I like that.

The decision to move was an absolute no-brainer. I’m not going to ramble on about the upgrades and whatnot, just assume that everything in the new place is probably bigger and better than everything in the old place. The damage? Less than $50 a month more than our old loft. Scandal!

And get this, full basement. I’m already shopping around for pool tables and tiki bars.

The place used to be inhabited by a retired widow who decided to up and move to a smaller place in her old age. She took amazing care of it; although we’ll have to spend hundreds to remove the ‘old lady’ smell from the carpeting. These particular locations seldom open up, so we jumped on the first chance to rent something that at least vaguely resembled an actual house.

We have a yard! A yard that I don’t have to mow!

New hotness.

This will be the view from my kitchen window. I’ve never had a kitchen window before.

Me and the Missus have a lot of work to do up until that point. We’ve already hired movers to haul over our bigger items, and we’re taking a week off of work to properly settle in thereafter. We’re shopping for a new bed, and are looking into creative ways to make the basement rock properly. I can assure you that once we’re all set up, I’ll throw the mother of all housewaming parties, and you won’t even have to bring gifts.

Until then, I’ll be watching The Burbs and carefully packing boxes.

New hotness.

What do you have to say about it? Sound off in the comments section, and enjoy your Monday.

Hot Enough For You?

An Inconvenient Truth.

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”Winston Churchill

Thank you, Al Gore. Thank you for showing us that Global Warming is not a political issue. Thank you for showing us that global warming is not a national issue. It is a planetary fact, and must be dealt with instantly. Thank you for criss-crossing the country and passionately educating people on the cause and effect. You have created a documentary that is vital, and I am urging people to check this out if they plan on taking in a movie over the next few weeks.

Thank you for scaring the poop directly from my pants.

You Are What I Eat.

Showin' The Ween.

I received a piece of negative e-mail yesterday, which I happen to get from time to time. Usually, I respond to said e-mails with such brilliant sarcasm and clever wit, the culprit in question is all but forced to write me back and apologize, sometimes even sending me small gifts or fruit. I like to deal with these disputes in private, because I would like you to think that all the readers of the CDP constantly agree with every teensy-weensy thing I have to say. Today, I’m forced to pull down the iron curtain of awesome.

Last week, I posted the wildly successful ‘CDP Guide To Vegetarianism.’ This received almost instant acclaim, earning me many e-mails of praise, an armload of ‘Bloggie’ awards and a cover shoot for Veggin’ Out magazine. I was pretty happy about the whole thing.

Then I got this e-mail from a fellow named ‘Litespeed.’ I’m only making this e-mail and response public because I think it concerns you guys a bit. Here is the full e-mail; I’ve edited nothing out:

Just so that you don’t believe we all fell off the proverbial turnip truck, you should read the allowable amounts of rat hairs and feces and insect parts in all your vegan products. I am not even going to get into the whole and complete dust mites in cereals and other grain products not to mention your pillows. These animal parts are consumed by you every single day.

So, what are you saying, that you are more pure because you only eat small animals and insects and animal parts? Is someone less pregnant who is only three days pregnant and not 3 months? If a woman takes only small amounts of money for sex is she less of a whore than one who does it less often and takes large amounts of money?

Man is an omnivore. That is fact. We have canine teeth. That is fact. On this planet and in our seas, we have many animal, insect, fish and even plants that consume other living creatures.

If you take some moral ground argument or the position that animals are not dispatched humanely, I can buy that. They often are not. When wolves take down an animal or large cats do and they start eating it alive from the anus forward, it is inhumane. If God designed this earth and this was his intent, or he was a bumbling fool who kept trying and trying over the millennium and still has not got it right and it is beyond his meager abilities, well that is not going to be corrected by man who like all God’s creations is a real screwed up piece of work.

We are what we are. We eat sugar and it is bad for our teeth. We consume caffeine and it stimulates us to a heart attack and sleeplessness. You can really and truly make arguments against virtually anything. As they say in the legal community, it is quite easy to indict and convict a ham sandwich and sentence it to prison for life or have it executed. I know. You would choose the latter.

I say, stop your preaching. You lie when you say you are trying only to reach those who already want to be vegans. You are truthfully trying to get as many people to convert as you can. Well, why not? Catholics have been doing the same thing for centuries and look at the wonderful things they have accomplished doing that. Everyone wants others to do as they do. It is human. Only less developed animal life does not do this. Hmmmmm.

There you go. As far as negative e-mails go, this one was rather harmless and general. I’m more used to the ‘you suck’ and ‘you’re gay’ varieties, so it’s always nice to get something that was obviously labored on for some time. Again though, I brought this out in the open because ‘Litespeed’ calls out my reading audience. He thinks you can’t make decisions for yourselves. He thinks that you’ll do whatever I tell you to. He thinks that people cannot change their primal instincts, regardless of whether or not it’s for the better. To me, this is stunningly ignorant and closed-minded.

Here then, my response:

‘Litespeed,’

1. I never denied that there wasn’t rat hair, mites or feces in foods other than meat; I simply spotlighted meat because that was the focus of my post. It was, after all, called ‘The CDP Guide To Vegetarianism.’ There are plenty of people who don’t realize all the ass-nasty things they ingest every day, so I was just throwing that fact out a reminder. Believe me, there are folks out there that were surprised by that fact, although they are far less intelligent than you, I suppose.

I also noticed that you referred to vegetarian food as ‘your vegan products.’ They’re not mine, dude; they belong to everyone. You can even grab some for yourself at the local market. Don’t be afraid, they love you!

2. I never said I was ‘pure,’ nor did I say I was striving for purity. I’m far from it. I drink way too much alcohol to call myself a saint, and I like professional wrestling. I also made several comments concerning the fact that I don’t mind people who hunt for the purposes of feeding their family. I ate meat constantly as I grew up, and I have no problem if you want to keep on keeping on. I was speaking from personal opinion and experience, which is the only thing I honestly care about. Eating something by accident is far different than eating something on purpose. Why, just yesterday I was walking down the street when I slipped on some refuse and swallowed a pig. Boy, was my face red.

FYI, that thing about a woman being pregnant for three days versus three months; I totally agree with that. If a woman’s been pregnant for three months, then yes, she is more pregnant than a woman who’s been with child for three days. Do the math; no religion or politics required.

3. True, man is an omnivore. The CDP, however, is an herbivore. I also play the drums, so I’ve got a lot of things going for me.

True, we have canine teeth. We also have an appendix, a tailbone, a ring finger and a lot of other crap I never use. Just because we have the bombs doesn’t mean we have to drop them, and just because you have sharp teeth doesn’t mean you have to use them to tear through beef 24/7. I sometimes use them to open CD’s. CD’s by vegan rock bands.

4. I think you took my religious arguments a little too seriously. I’m not trying to change the world or right any wrongs, and I’m certainly not trying to correct God’s mistakes (I don’t have the time; have you ever seen a giraffe?). I’m a vegetarian, not a humanitarian or anything else that ends in -arian. I prefer to practice isolationism and every man for themself-ishness. I simply prefer animals because they don’t send me cumbersome e-mails that I have to pick apart. Your ideas on my ‘mission’ are far greater than anything I’ve ever set out to do, and I thank you for thinking so highly of me. I didn’t know I had that kind of effect on people.

5. Again, just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right to do so. I actually don’t take in caffiene, and I have absolutely no idea what you were talking about with your ‘ham sandwich’ joke. Leave the funny stuff to me.

6. Am I trying to change people to vegetarianism? Well, possibly, but I think you’re overestimating my reach and power over the common man. I’m not Ryan Seacrest, here. They can make their own decisions, just like you. You’re a big boy, and you can eat my share of meat if you choose; I’m not playing ball for my own reasons. Furthermore, there’s a difference between ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian;’ you should have looked into that before you wrote this e-mail up, it would have helped your case a bit. I’m not a vegan, I don’t plan on becoming a vegan, and I don’t even know if I like vegans.

I’m a hypocrite. I’m a sinner.

There’s a shocker. I’m not even pretending to change that. I like me.

I don’t eat meat because it’s not good for my health, I hate the business behind it and I’m trying to avoid killing as many animals as I can, even though it’s bound to happen every once in a while. I’m doing this for me, and I also know it wasn’t the easiest decision I’ve ever made. I figured it would be a decision a lot of others considered making, so I wanted to put something into the blogosphere that was slightly less preachy and more real-world as far as the circumstances go.

I’ve succeeded, because people have applauded my efforts, and I pissed you off.

Sincerely,
The CDP.

In conclusion, I don’t really see what this guy’s point was. I think he was trying to tell me to stop the preaching and accept that fact that people will do what they were bred to do. Okay, then. Not the best advice in the world, but it’s a feather in my cap.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments section or e-mail me at communistdance@yahoo.com.

Cotton Anniversary.

06-19-04

As of today, me and the Missus have been married for two years.

730 days.
17,520 hours.
1,051,200 minutes.
63,072,000 seconds.

We’ve been a couple for almost seven years.

2555 days.
61,320 hours.
3,679,200 minutes.
220,752,000 seconds.

In the near-seven years we’ve been an item, there have been only two days where we didn’t see each other.

2 days.
48 hours.
2880 minutes.
172,800 seconds.

While I don’t remember these two days personally, the Missus assures me that they exist. I guess we got into a bit of fight sometime during high school, and I skipped school for two days because I was afraid to face her or something. Sounds about right, and I’m certain that it was my fault. Regardless, we ran out of interesting things to tell each other in 2001. Nowadays, we just sit around and talk about things that other people have done in their lives; usually celebrities and professional athletes.

Every time another one of these relationship milestones comes and goes, her parents always remark at how amazed they are. Mainly due to the fact that the Missus’ attention span doesn’t allow her to keep suitors or interests longer than a few weeks. I’m aware of this, so I’m always thinking of new ways to keep the marriage fresh. Here are some ideas that have worked well for me in the past; try them out for yourself sometime:

1. Every few weeks, I’ll get home from work early and break something that’s special to her. This can be something like a family heirloom, or perhaps an expensive dress. When she comes home, I have her walk around and hunt for the item in question, while informing her if she’s ‘hot’ or ‘cold.’ She used to cry, but now has grown quite accustomed to the fun and unpredictable nature of it.

2. You have to get out of the house and do something as a couple at least once every two weeks. It’s best to do something collaborative, where you can put your heads together and work as a team. For this, we usually head out to a small border town and kidnap a stranger. We don’t kill them or anything, we just scare the whiz out of them and dump them off at a bus station. Just try to keep from making out after an adrenaline rush like that.

3. I sometimes go to work naked. Now, the Missus really doesn’t know I do this, but she can see it in my swagger when I return home.

When you spend every waking moment with someone, it becomes more and more difficult not to simply take them for granted. Some days, it’s quite easy to regard a significant other as someone who’s just always around, much like a couch or house plant. In order to combat this, I suggest fighting for no reason. The second you start to feel like your husband or wife is non-existant, just do something so monumentally stupid that they have no choice but to bust your chops for the next four days. It keeps things fresh, and there’s never a dull moment.

In the end, I’m just really glad that the Missus allows me to be her house plant. Happy Cotton Anniversary, Celia. I love you more than toast.

Click here to be shot two years back in time to our wedding day. Click here to be shot back just one, to our first anniversary. Sound off in the comments section, and tell me how proud you are of the two of us.

Stop Playing My Songs.

Lulu Eightball.

Lulu Eightball is, in my correct opinion, the funniest female-written cartoon on the planet. Emily Flake is a genius, and I emplore you to check out her previous comics and enjoy them heartily. They’re sometimes a wee bit profane and the humor is black as night, but chances are that if you enjoy the CDP, you’ll appreciate the humor of Lulu Eightball.

CDP Post #400 is just around the corner, and I’ll be collecting various quotes and sound bites from the last 200 posts in honor of this event. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Monday’s my second wedding anniversary with the Missus. I think I have to buy her something that contains cotton.

Sound off in the comments section and have a good weekend.

Air, Earth, Water & Fire.

Feed and pet the deer!

You know, there comes a time in every man’s life when he just has to slow down and feed the deer.

Feed and pet the deer!

The Wisconsin Dells Deer Park is a great place to repay your debts to the animal kingdom, specifically animals of the deer variety. It’s like a purification ritual; we go once a year, and this time we brought my mom and sister.

Feed and pet the deer!

Please consider this an apology for all the times I ate venison and shot at you as a child. Sorry, buddy.

Feed and pet the deer!

The reason these deer are so tame is because the owners pump soft-rock radio throughout the park. Seriously, it’s Peter Cetera round-the-clock at the Deer Park.

Feed and pet the deer!

They sell boxes of crackers for a dollar each to feed to the deer. They were Keebler Rye Crisp crackers, so I made sure to help myself to a bite or two as well.

Feed and pet the deer!

Apart from the deer, they also house Elk, Caribou, Emu(s), Bison, Zebu and Lemurs. One of the lemurs stole my watch and sold it off a minute later. Jerk.

You have found the secret message! What will you win?

It was the best day ever.

The quest for the golden putter.

It should also be noted that I went mini-golfing as well, shooting a perfect par 41 for the course. That’s an average of 2.27 strokes per hole, which I assume is pretty good.

Take that, woman who raised me!

Then I destroyed my mom at a game of air-hockey. I rocked so hard, the puck had a vapor trail behind it. Check it out:

I'm so dope, the puck gets blisters.

Sound off in the comments section and let me know what you were up to while I was feeding the deer. CDP Post #400 is right around the corner, so pick out your best party hat.

The CDP’s Guide To Vegetarianism.

Here Comes The Preachy-Preach.

Hello. My name is the CDP, and I’m a vegetarian.

Hold on, don’t leave! We’ve got to talk; me and you. It’s important. It’s about the age-old debate between carnivores and herbivores. You know, if the dinosaurs would have just sat down and talked about their differences like rational beasts, they might still be around today. Hell, we might have even had a Brontosaurus as President. Sweet.

I offer today’s post as a public service to carnivores, vegans and everyone in between. By shedding some insight into what shapes people’s beliefs, you have a better understanding of what shapes the world around you, and what causes people to make certain life choices. Also, I fancy talking about myself, and I’m quite skilled at it.

First off, there are some things you need to know about me:

Moo Snoot.

1. I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years now. After trying and failing a few times, I finally gave up meat for good when I found myself sitting alone in a Culvers booth, sneaking in a bacon cheeseburger while my wife was at school. This troubled me, as I was now faced with the truth that I felt guilty about eating meat, so much to the point of actually hiding it from the Missus. I didn’t give up meat because of the Missus, mind you. I gave it up for many reasons I’ll explain later, culminating with the depressing Culvers epiphany.

2. I’m not trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t convert, because it would make us herbivores much less of a novelty; therefore, much less cool.

3. I loathe hippies; cannot stand them one damn bit. I don’t do drugs, I don’t own tie-dye and I don’t participate in any marches, regardless of the cause. If you are standing in between me and what I want, chances are that I don’t like you.

4. I hate PETA with a blistering passion. Their marketing campaigns and tactics have done nothing but turn people off of a vegetarian lifestyle, and caused a lot of meat-eaters to get a very negative view of vegetarians. They should be using their donated money towards better things than naked protests at circuses and throwing paint on supermodels. Screw you, PETA; you’re ruining it for everybody.

5. I grew up in a meat-eating household. My dad was (and still is) an avid hunter, trapper and fisherman. I’ve been hunting on many occasions, and participated in the murdering, cleaning and gutting of many deer and small mammals. In my youth, I killed many pigeons and vermin for the fun of it. I also spent most of my childhood on a dairy farm, which cares about cows only as a source of revenue and profit. I’ve seen some nasty things concerning these animals, but I don’t look at any of those things as ethically wrong. Business is business, and dairy farmers are only doing the job they were raised to do. I’m just trying to hammer the point home that the meat-eating and country lifestyle are not lost on me; that was my life for 19 years.

6. I’m not anti-meat, nor am I anti-hunting. I’m not an idiot; I know that steak tastes good, and many people refuse to deprive themselves of such a luxury. Fair enough. I also refuse to deprive myself of a lot of things that I enjoy, but some people find evil and wrong (such as television, gambling, alcohol consumption, death metal and snuff films).

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, I also know that deer hunting is an almost vital and necessary tool in controlling and re-populating forest areas. However, when deer hunting, I believe that your kill should be used for something other than sport; I.E., you should eat the meat or donate it to food pantries. If you have the balls to kill, clean and serve an animal to your family, you deserve to eat it, and we all wouldn’t be here today if that wasn’t the case.

7. When I was a teenager, I experimented with different diets to see how they would affect my health. One week, I ate nothing but chocolate-themed items. Another week, I only took in things that were the color green. Yet another week, I ate nothing but foods containing meat (it damn near killed me). In my blue-haired punk days, I spoke against vegetarianism, boasting my position at the top of the food chain.

Clearly, I’m not your stereotypical vegetarian. So, why don’t I eat meat?

Chick Box.

Well, for vegetarians, there are three main reasons why you avoid meat. They are:

1. Moral/Ethical
2. Health
3. Religion

I consider myself a little of all three.

Morally, I no longer place humans above animals in the dominant chain. This is either because I’ve grown to love and appreciate animals more, or my disdain for human life is growing stronger. Show me a cow that’s minding his or her own business, and I’ll show you something that’s not bothering me. I now know that you don’t need to eat meat to live a healthy life, and I’m not down with the concept of mass murder, human, chicken or otherwise. The treatments, business and sanitation procedures involved in the process of getting a hamburger to my plate is about as corrupted as a stream of Barry Bonds’ urine, and I refuse to be a part of it.

I care for and respect animals, and I’ve done enough bad things in my life without having more guilt on my conscience. More important than my love for animals, however, is my disdain for greedy people. For me, avoiding corporations like ConAgra foods is the same as me avoiding a Wal-Mart. If you’re against what someone does, you disassociate with them, and that’s what I do to protest.

As a side note, I always find it funny when I see some punk or anti-establishment person smoking a cigarette. Here’s this person who refuses to be a cog in the corporate machine, yet he’s puffing on a product manufactured by one of the largest and most vile conglomerates on the planet. In my opinion, you might as well be wearing Nike shoes and spooning with Sam Walton’s corpse, because you’re an idiot.

Health-wise, eating meat isn’t all that great for your body. We all know that, but we don’t really like to bring it up. True, things like fish and poultry are far healthier and beneficial than red meat, but it’s not like we’re comparing apples to lard, here; it’s all filler. Eating red meat causes heart disease, slows your body down and clogs damn near everything in your chest. Vegetarians are far less-likely to get heart disease, certain cancers and many other serious illnesses. Now, I don’t have the exact numbers and percentages on hand, but please look them up if you think I’m way off. I’m not.

Religion-wise, I’m not down with murder; plain and simple. When I look at my cats, I see animals that are pretty much without sin. I don’t see cats cutting me off in traffic. I don’t see puppies taking forever in line at the bank. I also believe that Heaven isn’t just for humans, and you’re going to have some pretty awkward afterlife moments when you run into all those animals you killed.

I know what you’re thinking. “But we don’t eat cats and dogs! Everyone knows that’s wrong!” Obviously, that’s not true for the rest of the planet. The animals we choose to civilize are the same animals that other ethnicities dine on, and vice versa. Who are we to pick and choose what animals deserve to be spared and which ones require worship? Sure, you may think that eating a cow is more ethically sound than eating a cat, but the billion-plus population of India would tell you otherwise.

We see this all the time in the media, as well. Whenever there’s a story where a domesticated animal dies, people put more emotional stock into it than if it were a human life. Meanwhile, millions of other animals are being fed to the woodchipper without so much as a whimper from the dog and cat loving Americans.

Finally, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that my wife was a factor in the equation. She wasn’t a big factor, but certainly someone who made me realize how big of a hypocrite I was being to myself. She’s got this knack for making me feel crappy about myself, which in tune instigates a huge change inside of me for the better. I’d have divorced her a long time ago if she wasn’t totally right most of the time. She’s been a vegetarian for longer than me, and she was responsible in opening my eyes to all of the things you don’t see when it comes to getting a hamburger. I’m not one to be easily manipulated, but when someone dangles the honest and raw truth in your face, it’s hard to contest it.

I mean, I knew that it was wrong; I could feel it deep down inside, but I kept shutting it up for fear I would have to…you know… do something about it (much like a lot of meat-eaters on the verge of changing). It was that lonely night at Culvers that changed me for good. I came to the obvious realization that I wasn’t being honest with myself, and needed to mature to the point of making difficult decisions for the greater good of living with some honor.

So I went home and committed ritual seppuku. Gutted myself like a fish and died, right then and there.

Now, I know that a lot of my readers are meat-eaters, and perhaps some of you are considering making the Big Switch. Here then, a starters guide to vegetarianism: How to start, why to start, what to eat and how to deal with your relatives.

Fresh Off The Wing.

1. You don’t need meat to live.

This is the big thing people need to know. It seems foolish that anyone would actually think this, but sometimes it needs to be spelled out to remind you. Meat is a food group, yes, but it’s not vital. There is nothing in meat that you can’t get in other foods (or, at the very least, supplements). That being said, don’t obey the food groups. Anything institutionalized by the government in the 50’s and never updated cannot be what’s best for you.

Case in point; I’m doing just fine. I’ve been off of meat for almost 5 years, and I’m in the best shape of my life. I look and feel better, I’ve participated in distance running and greatly expanded the amount of healthy things I put into my body. When I ate meat, I was sluggish and needed caffeine to function (I’ve actually been away from caffeine longer than I’ve been away from meat). I got sick more and needed more sleep to feel rested. I had slight asthma problems and couldn’t breathe deeply. That’s all changed now, and it’s not because I’m a tremendously healthy eater.

Remember, this is just my own personal story and results, but it’s all true. Except for that ritual suicide thing.

2. Stop looking away.

Most meat-eaters don’t want to know how their food is prepared. They don’t want to know how it gets to their plate, pressed into a nice circle with fake grill-marks on the patty. They don’t want to know because they do know it’s a nasty process, and if they did know they’d have to do something about it. People are ignorant and lazy in general (we all are), and feel that if something is out of sight, it’s out of mind. Never mind the slaughterhouse kill-floors, never mind the holocaust-style feed lots, never mind the legal allowable amount of feces contained in the burger you’re eating. Hell, if you knew all that, you’d probably spoil your appetite.

Yum!

Quick Tidbit: If you took all the farmland that was being used to simply house the cows we eat, we could grow enough vegetables and crops there to feed almost everyone on the damn planet. Imagine that. If you truly want Bono to shut up once and for all, stop eating beef.

Did you know that the burger you ate last night wasn’t just one cow? Nope, it was essentially scooped from a conglomerate vat of usable cow meat, and when you eat a burger at McDonalds, you could in theory be taking in the meat of over 50 cows. Trust me, not all of them were healthy and clean when they got killed in the rendering plant. In fact, I bet that a few of them were rather unpleasant looking.

Also, there are legal standards as to how much animal feces and rat hair can be contained in your food, and trust me, it’s not zero percent. I’m not trying to freak you out with scare tactics or anything, it’s just the truth. Believe me when I tell you that when you eat a hamburger from a fast-food chain, you’re taking in feces, among other things you wouldn’t even see on Fear Factor.

People tend to ignore things when they bother them or make them feel bad. It’s the same reason we turn the channel when a commercial comes on for the Christian Children’s Fund. It’s the same reason nobody watches the Jerry Lewis Telethon. As long as you stay uninformed about what you eat, you don’t have to question what your morals and ethics are, and everything stays normal for another day. Why change? It’s much easier to stay in the dark about it.

You’re probably getting agitated and annoyed right about now. Antsy. Squirmy. You probably want to stop reading. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s how I felt at Culvers. It sucks.

3. There’s plenty of food out there.

Oh, man. “What do you eat?” I get this all the time. My answer? “What don’t I eat?” Listen, meat is just a small percentage of what you should be putting into your body, so if you eat meat exclusively, you’ve got bigger problems than what I can help you with. Remember, I tried that diet and almost went belly-up at age 17.

For just about any meat product you can think of, there is a soy and veggie alternative that tastes really good. Trust me, I’m a notoriously picky eater, and I’d tell you if something tasted like crap. Companies like Boca, Gardenburger and Morningstar Farms make meatless equivalents of practically everything that’s in your freezer right now (depending on if you have human body parts in your freezer, which is entirely possible, I suppose). Here’s what’s been in mine over the years:

Gardenburger Chicken Patties
Morningstar Farms Breaded Chicken Breast
Morningstar Farms Sausage Patties
Boca Sausage Links
Boca Chicken Nuggets
Boca Lasagna
Gardenburger Burgers
Gardenburger Ribs
Morningstar Farms Meatballs
Morningstar Farms Hot Dogs
Morningstar Farms Corn Dogs
Morningstar Farms Sloppy Joe Mix
Morningstar Farms Veggie Burgers
Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Tomato and Basil Pizza Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Fajita Burgers Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Philly Cheese Steak Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Cheddar Burger
Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lovers Burger
Morningstar Farms Bacon

These are just 20 of the many meatless products you can use to transition into vegetarianism. I can assure you that all of these products taste quite good, look and smell just like the real deal. Only these are full of soy and proteins, they don’t harm animals and they contain all the healthy parts of real meat, without the bad stuff. They can be microwaved, grilled or put in the oven, used as a side or a main course. My freezer is chock-full of these things on any given day.

Quick Tidbit: Critics will tell you that veggie and soy substitutes are higher-priced than raw meats. In my shopping, I’ve noticed little to no change, seriously. Furthermore, if you could instantly improve your health and ethical mindset for pennies a day, wouldn’t you do it?

Also, Tofu sucks. Whoever started the smear campaign that said vegetarians only eat tofu and rice was an ass. I’ve had it on about a dozen occasions, and I’ve probably been impressed once. It’s all in the preparation and can pretty much taste like whatever you’re making it with, but don’t think you have to eat it to survive. Nope. Not even a little bit.

You don’t need to eat salads and green vegetables every day, either. Personally, I still don’t like green vegetables all that much. Obviously, with all these vegetarian substitutes, your diet doesn’t need to change very much at all. If you want a burger, you can eat a veggie burger. If you want tacos, you can use the shredded veggie hamburger as a base, and it tastes exactly the same. Same goes for ribs, chicken, sausage and bacon. Don’t be afraid to make the switch because you’re afraid you won’t have anything to eat; you can eat everything you’re eating now. In fact, your diet will expand to include things you never realized you enjoyed. Like beer.

Boca=

4. What’s the best way to do it? What do I tell Mom?

If you finally want to get off the meat wagon and make the Big Switch, I would recommend doing it in stages, taking baby steps. For starters, rid yourself of the meats that you eat the least. For example, if you only eat fish once a month, drop that first. You won’t miss it too much, and you’ll still have other meat items to chow down on. After a couple weeks of that, drop another type of meat. Then another, until you’re done. While you’re doing this, continue to substitute what you’re getting rid of with their vegetarian equivalents. After a month or two of this, you’ll realize how easy it was, how smooth the transition was, how much you don’t miss real meat, and kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

That’s another thing. You won’t miss it. Really, you won’t. You think you will, but you won’t.

In recent years, I’ve seen celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Julia Stiles talk about falling off the vegetarian wagon and going back to meat, describing the transition as ‘orgasmic.’ Not only does this set a horrible example for those trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it also paints these people as weak, moral-less losers who only gave up meat because it was trendy in the 90’s. It’s not like you’re giving up meth or anything. You won’t be convulsing on the floor or begging people on the street for bacon, I swear it.

Honestly, the most annoying part about being a vegetarian is the conversations you have with ignorant people who should know better (which is sort of why I’m doing this post). Normally, I don’t bring this up unless I absolutely have to, and 8 times out of 10 I get some sort of crap for it. These people think they are clever to wave a steak in front of your face and ask you if you’re jealous, not knowing that they’re about the brazillionth damn person to do that to you. The trick is to keep your cool, answer their questions without exposing them for the shallow turd they are, and make them realize that not all vegetarians are pansy, bleeding-heart fools. Pity them, for meat has driven them mad and rendered them sterile.

(It should be noted that I’m in no way calling meat-eaters idiots. It’s when you start mocking non-meat-eaters when you start looking foolish. In fact, whenever you start mocking anything you don’t understand, you run the risk of exposing yourself as a fraud.)

5. Don’t preach.

Okay, so this entire post has been preaching. However, like I stated before, I don’t care if you switch or not, I’m just helping out those who want to switch.

If and when you decide to go vegetarian, don’t go around flaunting it over anyone’s head. They will resent you and take you off the Christmas card list, and you’ll deserve it. You don’t want to come off like an angry young man or woman at a pride parade, sporting a sign that says “We’re here, we’re meatless, get used to it!” because that will only turn people off to the cause and make them squirmy. Be classy about it, try to only bring it up when asked or when discussed in conversation. It’s not like you have to keep a secret or anything, just don’t be annoying.

Quick Tidbit: In my five years as a vegetarian, I’ve been able to find a decent meal at every restaurant I’ve eaten at, with the exception of one. This includes literally hundreds of eateries, including steakhouses. Darn near every burger joint on the planet offers a veggie burger substitute, and you can order just about everything to be cooked to your specifications (potato skins without bacon, pasta dishes minus chicken, etc.). When those around me choose where to eat, I never fret and neither should you; you’ll find something good.

In conclusion, I think this post has been a long time coming. If you’re already a vegetarian, I hope that this reaffirmed your cause. For those on the fence, I hope that this convinced you to make the dive. For those of you who continue to support the meat-eating lifestyle, good for you. Seriously. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s good for you, but make sure to always listen to your brain and heart before you listen to your stomach.

Questions? Concerns? Arguments? Anything I left out? Sound off in the comments section, or e-mail me at communistdance@yahoo.com. I’ll be leaving this up for a few days, because I think it’s sort of interesting and I want as many people to read it as possible. If you have something to day, please say it; either in the comments section or via e-mail. Peace.