Time to Settle Accounts
January 3, 2012: The first carrot.
New Jack and I were in the kitchen unloading our respective groceries and continuing a discussion we’d started in the car about why if God did exist it would have such a fragile emotional structure as to care about whether or not we believed in it, but really I was thinking about the baby carrots I’d just bought and trying to psych myself into being ready to eat one. I have only been out of the country twice, both when I was fifteen – and one of those was a canoe trip in Canada – and last year I began to wonder if part of my reservation for international travel was my food problem. If that was the case, then something as simple as, say, a baby carrot was preventing me from seeing something as majestic as, say, the Great Wall.
Now it was time, and though I’d originally considered filming the spectacle, titling it “a 30-year-old eats his first carrot” and hoping for some sort of viral brilliance, I’d ultimately decided against it. The scene would either be dull and anti-climactic or too awful for permanent documentation.
I opened the small package of baby carrots and removed one. “Well,” New Jack said, “the problem with your argument is the precondition that God should somehow be an emotional creature and yet not be emotionally fragile.” The carrot was hard and smooth and did not much smell like anything. I set my tongue against it and then dug my teeth just the slightest bit into its body. “You can’t say how someone can or cannot be emotional.”
“Okay!” I shouted, and I put the carrot between my teeth and snapped off half. I started to chew. It didn’t taste bad, yet clearly my psychological state was so damaged after 30 non-carrot years and only two vegetables – and one of those, baby spinach, was blended in a smoothie – that my eyes began to water. I tensed up. A gag reflex kicked in and I panicked.
“Jesus, are you going to spit that up?” Jack asked. I hopped about in a circle in the kitchen and then dashed to the bathroom and dry heaved, spitting every last bit of carrot into the toilet. I returned, breathing heavily.
“How was it?”
“Not terrible,” I said. “Just an initial shock.” After a few more minutes of discussion I shouted “Do it god damnit!” and I tossed the other half of the carrot into my mouth and tried again. My goal this time was swallowing. I chewed the carrot down to a fine grain. I started swallowing, and as the carrot moved down my throat my body jerked and convulsed again and I ran back to the bathroom to spit out what was left.
I felt tired and beat up, but not defeated. This had been a good first attempt, and I went back to my computer and played some online chess as New Jack returned to his room to eat dinner.
But then I flipped to facebook and saw a quote posted by a guy in my high school class. “At the age of thirty,” it began “a man ought to have control over himself, know the exact reckoning of his faults and virtues, recognize his limit, foresee his weaknesses – be what he is.” I sighed, and sat silent for three minutes. I googled the quote and found it was Camus. I shared the post on facebook and thanked my old classmate. I went back to the kitchen, opened the fridge, took the bag of carrots out of the fridge, removed a second carrot and poured a glass of water. I bit half the carrot and chewed it up. When I started to gag I drank some water and washed it down. My eyes watered again and I put the other half in my mouth and chewed and chewed, drinking the water, drinking it down. I rinsed my glass and went back to my computer to play another game of chess.
NEXT: Negotiating. (1.4.12)
PREVIOUS: Keep it to yourself. (1.2.12)
On this date, 2011: Which came first — the chicken or the egg? Or god?