Below are the words I've written for day 14 of 1000 Words of Summer.
We cheerfully ate the rest of our dinner as a couple on a couples' / vegan / yoga retreat should. My plan was working. I was soaking up all the good vegan karma, and Larry was tasting the delicious vegan food. I could already feel my soul being enriched. We even held hands on our walk back to our room. And I didn't even feel chilly. The barbeque tofu spice was heating me from the inside. I'd have to make that recipe at home, but... damn, I forgot to ask the waiter for the recipe. Even after Larry tipped him a fifty, at my request. And of course, I didn't ask for the Chili Bread Bowl recipe either.
As if reading my mind, Larry said, "I'll take you up on that offer to make that chili recipe for me."
"Really? That's awesome! I mean, I still need to get the recipe, but surely they'll give it to a guest. And wait until you hear what the chili is made of. You'll never guess."
"Oh, I know what it's made of. I remember eating chili that tasted just like that as a kid. It was my favorite food growing up. Before I went off to college, I wrote down the recipe -- never thought more about it until now, though. But I bet I still have it in a box somewhere."
"I don't think your recipe will be exactly the same as the one the Om Bowl uses." I took a deep breath and squeezed Larry's hand. "The 'meat' part is different."
Larry laughed. "Oh, I already knew that. I could tell as soon as I started chewing. They're a vegan restaurant, so they don't care about meat. So they used a cheap, off-market brand. I'll be getting some good quality meat for you to make the chili." Larry squeezed my hand in return. "And thank you for offering to make the chili for me. That's nice of you, especially since you're a... you know... vegan."
I sighed. Larry still didn't know what "vegan" meant. Not even close. But was he kidding me? On our couples' retreat? "Honey, do you really think they used an off-brand meat in the chili? This is a five-star restaurant we're talking about."
"Yep, They sure did. But, you know, they vegan. So they don't know any better."
"What?" I jerked my hand away from Larry's and turned to face him. "What do you mean by that? You think vegans don't know the difference between good quality and bad; and that a vegan restaurant would even consider bringing any kind of meat into their kitchen?!"
Larry looked stunned. I almost felt sorry for him. But then he said, "Yeah, that's what I meant. Why are you so upset all of a sudden? All I said was that vegans don't care about meat. They don't care about it, so they don't know the difference between good meat and bad meat."
"Argh!" I clenched my fists. "Vegans know the difference -- all meat is bad!" I turned and stormed down the sidewalk.
"Honey, please." Larry caught up to me. "I don't know why you're upset. We were having such a good time." He was right. He didn't know this was a vegan retreat. To him, it was a couples' retreat.
"I'm sorry, hon." I grabbed his hand. "I was just... having a flashback of an animal abuse video I saw the other day. You know how I get. PTSD." So much for open honesty on our "couples" retreat. We walked the rest of the way to our room in silence.
While Larry took a shower, I slipped into my PJs and got into bed. I flipped through the retreat's brochures: All Skill-Levels Yoga, Guided Meditation, Reiki and Massage, Aligning the Chakras, and Guided Nature Walks. I set the chakra brochure aside; maybe I could talk Larry into going with me. We both could use a good chakra alignment. Then I saw a slip of paper which had been tucked into one of the brochures: Clear Creek Farm and Animal Rescue. Bingo! And it was within walking distance -- only about a mile away. Larry and I would spend all day tomorrow at the sanctuary. He would cuddle with the cows and play with the pigs. He would learn their names look into their eyes, and see their personalities. Then at the end of the day, when he was full of good animal vibes, I would tell him that the chili he ate at the Om Bowl was vegan. And that what he had planned on putting in the chili I would make at home was the flesh from one of his animal friends. And then he would finally make the connection, and he would know what the word "vegan" meant.
Then Larry stepped out of the bathroom clutching his stomach. "I don't think that chili agreed with me after all," he said. Must've been that off-brand meat. My stomach's been cramping ever since we got back to the room.
"Oh... sorry, honey." Damn. What if he was allergic to soy? I don't think he's ever had soy before -- at least not this much all at once.
He opened his duffel and pulled out some Tums. "I packed this, just in case. You never know what weird things vegan places put in their food."
"What do you mean?"
He popped a couple wafers in his mouth and chewed. "At the Om Bowl... you can tell just by the smell in there. They use all kinds of weird spice to disguise the fact that there's no meat in their food. To try to make up for it. Their chili is good -- besides the meat, of course -- but I could smell the spice in all the other food in the place." He sat on the bed. "It was a bit overpowering. I almost sneezed a few times."
"I thought it smelled like heaven." I handed the slip of paper to him. "Maybe this will take your mind off your tummy. A couples' animal sanctuary experience. Tomorrow, we can pack a lunch and spend all day there."