Dining out with the Health Fascist can go one of two ways. If it’s in a vegetarian restaurant staffed by waiters dressed in hemp and serving tray bakes of braised cauliflower, then we’re OK. If it’s a normal, mainstream eatery, the kind of place you or I might like to go to, then there could be fireworks.
Let me take you through a typical evening at the latter class of establishment. It begins like a scene from Goodfellas, with the handing out of the menus. The Health Fascist takes hers and studies it intently. But don’t be fooled: she hasn’t even started looking at the food – she’s checking to see if it says “printed on paper from sustainable sources”. Then the wait-person approaches to tell us about the specials. She ends her pleasant recital with the words: “Let me know if you have any questions.” Oh, the innocence of it. I want to put an arm round her, to lead her away now, before it’s too late, to tell her that there are easier, safer ways to earn money for a J1 trip to the States.
Questions? The Health Fascist has more questions than Patricia Dillon at the Mahon Tribunal.
If it’s fish, she wants to know whether it’s farmed or wild. Is it from a sustainable fishery? When and where was it caught? Was it line caught, or trawled in a net? Is it an endangered species? She doesn’t quite ask for the trawler’s licence number, but that’s probably because she didn’t think of it. If it’s chicken, she wants to know about antibiotics and water injections, and corn feed. She only eats organic chicken, of course, and would preferably like to see a photo of the bird’s mother. She doesn’t eat red meat, so she is usually silent when I am ordering. I go for steak because it’s the only time I am allowed near anything that grows horns. Sometimes, after I’ve ordered the rib-eye medium-rare, she will say something about cancer of the colon, but I’ve learned to filter that out. When the wait-person has fielded all the questions and taken the orders, she and I will exchange looks. There will be a silent transfer of mutual sympathy.Her look will say: do you have to live with that all the time? And my look will say: sorry you had to go through that. She’s a lovely person really.
In the interest of wedded bliss, the author wishes to remain anonymous…for now.