By Christopher Tydeman
“So how was your turkey for Thanksgiving?” asked the cashier with cheery eyes and honest curiosity.
“Oh, I’m a vegan, so no turkey.” I replied, a part of me couldn’t believe I outed that. But it was true and it felt good to say.
“So did you have Tofurky?” She asked. That would have been my same question just six months ago.
“No. I actually had veggie dogs with vegan macaroni salad.” A part of me just wanted to crawl out of the store inconspicuously and put a paper bag on his head.
This ‘voice’ which I recognized as a part of me named Simon said, “So, let me get this straight. You told her you were a vegan AND you didn’t really have a Thanksgiving meal?”
“Because that is the truth. What is wrong with you?” I asked him, inside my head, of course!
“Could you out yourself as any weirder?”
“But it was true. Why is that weird?”
“A manly man could have heard you and then what?”
“He would have heard that I was a vegan who had veggie dogs on Thanksgiving.”
“Where is this going? And are you losing oxygen with that paper bag you have on your head?”
“Christopher, men don’t admit they are vegan, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s a thing. You know…a guy thing.”
“Oh…yes, the guy thing. Right. I forgot. Wait…what’s the guy thing again?”
“You are seriously going to give me a rash. Thanksgiving is a time to let your inner cave man out, man. Make that sound that Tim Allen made on his TV show….ar, ar, ar! Even if you don’t, you just pretend to. On the down low. You know…hush, hush.”
“I see what this is about. I went across social masculine norms. Okay, I feel you. So you want me to lie to be accepted.”
“Thank you for understanding.”
“That was actually rhetorical.”
“Simon, I am not going to pretend to be something I am not just to fit in with your perception of everyone else’s perception.”
“I’ll give you twenty dollars.”
“Simon, you don’t have money. What is under this concern, Simon?”
“I guess I am afraid you will be laughed at or judged by other men as not being a man because you chose not to eat animals and other animal by-products. Like you are weird or from another planet.”
“What if they are weird and from another planet to be eating animals?”
“Uh…I don’t know how to answer that.”
“Do you know how many vegan males there are in the world?”
“Simon, You know that isn’t true. More than you or I can possibly know. What if that number grew to ten thousand or ten million?”
“Then I would feel more comfortable.”
“I guess I would feel more a part of a larger crowd. Safety in numbers, I suppose.”
“I feel your need for safety and acceptance, Simon. That is understandable considering years of social and familial conditioning. It’s not healing overnight. But it is important for me to be who I am for reasons that are mine which are emotional, spiritual, and physical.”
“I feel where you are coming from. I have some work to do with this. I actually love the food we have been eating. It is just this perception piece. In a way, it feels cool to be a little different. Like the cashier seems genuinely interested in what a vegan eats.”
“You are intriguing to people, Simon. That is another way to feel into it.”
“Hmmm…okay. I can feel some coolness in this.”
After this internal dialogue had been going on, the cashier and I talked a bit about what I eat. She ended by saying, “Well, I think it would be a process for me. You are a brave man.”
“Did you hear that, Simon?” I asked him as we were headed for the car.
Christopher Tydeman has been embracing the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life off and on since August, 2010. He is a SoulFullHeart facilitator-in-training, author on this blog, and he hosted the SoulFullHeart Experience Radio Show. For more information about the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life, visit soulfullheart.com.