Friday, December 21, 2007

Telling Stories

The following is a story I enjoy telling whenever vegetarianism, meatball subs, or the Mellow Mushroom pizza restaurant come up in conversation:

"A co-worker told me that she was at dinner with a vegetarian friend, and he ordered a hamburger. She was really startled, and asked why he'd be ordering meat. He confessed that he'd given up his hardcore-vegetarian lifestyle forever.

'What happened?' she asked.

'Man . . . ' he replied, 'it was those meatball subs.'

At the time, this guy was working as a cook at Mellow Mushroom. 'I was making a meatball sub the other day, and when I took it out of the oven it just smelled so good. I don't know, I just had to take a bite out of it. And before I knew it, I'd eaten the whole thing and had to make a new one for the customer. And from that point on, it was over. Meat is GOOD."

I think it's a great story.

The only problem is that, as I found out recently, it's almost a complete lie.

It wasn't a meatball sub*, it was a chicken club. And he wasn't taking the sandwich out of the oven, he was just cutting up some chicken to put into it. And he only decided to eat a small piece of the chicken, just a piece, not the whole thing.

Somehow, in retelling the story, I managed to change almost everything about it. And I guess that's forgivable. People embellish stories all the time without meaning to.

But the terrible part is that I fully intend to continue telling MY version of this story with all the lies in it.

It's just better that way. No one wants to think that a vegetarian got turned to omnivority by a little piece of chicken. No one hears the true version and thinks, "Wow, yeah, small pieces of chicken ARE good. I could go for a small piece of chicken right now!"

But a meatball sub? Now that's the kind of thing that lures you to the culinary dark side. No meat-eater would have a problem with meatball subs acting as a mascot for our dietary choice.

And that's why, in my version, he HAS to eat the entire sandwich. We can't have him eat a little of a meatball sub, herald of all animal consumption, and say, "Eh. Alright. I guess I'm ok with meat." No, he has to be so overwhelmed that he finishes the whole thing.

This gives me an insight into every urban legend, successful politician, or Moist von Lipwig in the world. Each person authors their own little story of the world, and a lot of the time, the story isn't particularly interesting. And if someone else comes along telling a better story, people will believe that instead, even if they know it's full of lies.

*But I was so convinced that it was, I made sure to get one the next time I went there.

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