I haven't eaten meat since March. I'd like to say I've developed a greater appreciation for the subtle nuances of tofu, or that soy-rizo really is as good as its spicy Mexican counterpart, but the reality is this: I sometimes smell bacon when there is no bacon.
I'll be driving down the street with my windows down, or walking to the bathroom at work, or shopping at Target, and from out of nowhere the savory smell of crispy-fried pig strips will seduce me into a fit of drooling. At first I worried I might be having a stroke, but the other possibility seemed more likely: my body needed meat.
So when my friend I. invited my boyfriend and me to a barbecue contest in Louisburg, Kansas, last weekend, I said fuck it; I'm gonna eat all the goddamn meat I can, just for one day.
I went prepared with an empty stomach, but I didn't know what I was getting myself into. After arriving in Louisburg we drove through several quiet blocks of old homes before an ambulance and several fire trucks marked the site of the gathering.
"Yep, that seems about right," my boyfriend said, "for a bunch of fat people eating meat."
The thing about fat people and meat, though: they know how to do it right. There were probably 25 tables set up, and for $5 they let you in and set you loose. I marched right up to the first table and held out my plate.
"This is our homemade sausage," a woman said, plunking down a piece of tube meat that left a greasy snail trail as it slid across my plate. "We've won a lot of awards with it."
And the moment the sausage touched my tongue fireworks went off in my brain as I remembered that meat is, in fact, fucking delicious. I jetted from one table to the next, shoveling pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, baked beans and chocolate-covered bacon in my face with reckless abandon. At one point I realized I could definitely outrun everyone there, so if I wanted I could make off with the entire plate of bacon chocolate and nibble it in the bushes like a diabetic squirrel with high blood pressure.
Exhausted and sweating, I did eventually run out of steam, and my meat euphoria lasted another hour or so before it turned into something hateful writhing in my guts. It was, perhaps, bad vegetarian karma coming back to bite me for assuming that vegetarianism has a "pause" button. And perhaps my intestinal punishment was justified, but the smell of phantom bacon is still something I'm too weak to ignore.