To distract myself one morning when I was particularly down, I sat up in bed and asked my husband to read to me from the Vegetarian Times magazine that I’ve been getting since September. It brought back memories, recent memories, of lively dinner table conversations.
Florentina and I, the vegetarians of the family who had read books like: Food Politics; Food Revolution; Animal, Vegetable Miracle; Skinny Bitch and others, often jumped on our high horses and recited a long list of all the evils of a meat diet, meat producers, agribusiness, dairy industry and on and on.
But Andrew loved his meat, and beans, he said, didn’t agree with him; as for tofu, the texture was too slimy. Still, in July we had all gone to see Food Inc.
“It would mean a lot to me Andrew, if you came to see this movie with us, and if you could could talk Robert into coming too.” He studied the pleading- bargaining look on my face for a moment, then he agreed to come.
I knew that that approach would work. He had used it on me a couple of weeks earlier.
“Mummy,” he had said coming into the kitchen. ” I am going to get a motorbike. And it would mean a lot to me if you could give me your blessing.”
When he first talked about getting a mototorbike, I was horrified. I did everything I could to dissuade him. I told him that motorbikes are dangerous, I told him that I didn’t approve. Better to save up for a car, much more useful. But he wanted a motorbike. I hated the idea, I was terrified that he might get hurt, or worse.
But I saw how he smiled when he talked about it, when he explained how bike drivers are like a family. They have a sign language with which they communicate with one another when they pass each other on the road. He told me how honorable bikers are and if they see a fellow rider is in trouble on the road they stop to help. I was moved by his genuine and powerful portrayal of this extended family on wheels.
It was then that I told him, that when I was even a few years younger than him, I had driven a bike. It was a friend’s Kawasaki. My friend must been out of his mind to let me drive it, because straddled across the bike, my feet couldn’t reach the ground and we had to drive in a sort of tandem. I changed the gears and everything else, and he held us upright whenever we had to stop.
“But that was then,” I told him. ”And I am not going to do it again. And it was dangerous.”
Andrew looked at me wide eyed and chuckled and I knew that I had scored a few brownie points in his estimation. And yes, I did give him my ”seal of approval” about getting a bike, and when he found the right one on Craig’s list I drove him to pick it up.
I watched him inspect it, test it, negotiate the price and finally shake hands with the seller. He was so happy. I prayed that he’d always be safe. He looked as dashing in his riding gear as he did in his fencing clothes with his mask under his arm, saluting with his foil before a bout. I often thought of him as one of the knights at King Arthur’s round table.
He named his bike Loki, after the Norse God of Fire. But now Loki is sitting in the drive, like a horse waiting for his knight to come ride away in the wind and sun.
As for me, darling Andrew, I would give up asking you to come to the Veggie Pride Parade in Manhattan dressed up as a carrot. Not only that, but I am ready to light up the B-B-Q and cook you a nice juicy porterhouse steak or any steak of your choice.
After all, I didn’t become vegetarian until a year ago.
And…….We love you Andrew.