BOLOG? NA!: AN EXORCISM
As of yesterday I am no longer going to be able to eat bologna. Not because I’m concerned about my health, not because I’ve been looking over our budget and in these tight economic times bologna is simply not an expense we can afford, and not even because I don’t like it. My chief reason is because last night I found myself with a hankering for a good old-fashioned bologna sandwich, made the effort to drive to my local supermarket and purchase the necessary ingredients, came home and ate part of it, began to feel slightly off, and proceeded to spend the remainder of the evening vomiting a total of nine times into the toilet. I also crapped twice, which smelled not at all of earthy human fecal matter but like 100% pure bologna, which could only lead to more vomiting. Eventually I became delirious and began crying. It was a truly repugnant evening, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, except for perhaps the inventor of bologna.
I’m a pretty reckless guy when it comes to food, and I readily accept most bodily consequences when it comes to my “diet”. Recently I viewed a Louis C.K. stand-up routine that literally caused me to fall onto the floor with helpless, skull-clenching laughter, and I’d like to co-opt his description of his eating habits for my own: “I fill myself to capacity, and I blow it out my asshole”. Spastic defecation doesn’t bother me all that much. I can sit on the toilet and grunt my guts out all day. No problemo. Just give a magazine or the Nintendo DS, and I’m good for the duration. All right, there was one instance where I ate chicken fettucini alfredo at the Macaroni Grill and ending up having diarrhea for three days straight before actually going to the ER and undergoing a haphazard butt irrigation courtesy of a commendably calm Chinese man. That wasn’t cool. Both chicken fettucini and Macaroni Grill in general are on my Do Not Eat list due to that. But what I’m saying to you, foods, is that you have to do something really bad to me to get me to stop eating you, provided I think you taste good in the first place. I’m a reasonable man. I’m no stranger to the forgive and forget train of thought. I think Gandhi was a heck of a nice guy. All I ask, foods, is that you, I don’t know, not send me to the emergency room? Not make me puke NINE TIMES? Nine times, bologna! I counted that shit!
I really, really do not enjoy throwing up.
My hatred for throwing up far exceeds my fondness for bologna, though I must admit the lowly sandwich meat was good to me in youth. My brother Justin and I delighted in lending our otherwise pedestrian sandwiches a classy air by fashioning ersatz crudites of them, cutting one whitebread bologna or PB&J sandwich into eight little triangles and daintily consuming them, no doubt with extended pinkies. Justin dubbed them “fingers and thumbs”. For several years, well into high school, this was the only way I would eat a sandwich, fingers and thumbs style, and bologna was a frequent component of this dependable snack.
Manys the time I would open my parents’ fridge and, due to sloth or a lack of more pleasing alternatives, would simply extract a slice of bologna from its packaging and eat it sans bread or condiments, often folding the meat and biting holes in it to make a functional and genuinely frightening, if acne-providing, Friday the 13th Jason mask. I ate cold pieces of bologna all the time, and never came away disappointed, let alone dazed and caterwauling bile into a toilet.
If there happened to be shredded mozzarella cheese in the fridge, and quite often there was for some reason, I would get fancy and sprinkle some of that cheese in a line along the center of the bologna slice, apply a line of mustard atop the cheese, and roll it up into a nice little enchilada. Muy caliente! Makes me wanna dance the lambada, senoritas! I ate that garbage all the time and I damn well liked it. Never again.
Bologna that actually came from the deli and not prepackaged by Oscar Meyer was always preferable, because you got the privilege of peeling that outer layer of casing from around the bologna with your teeth, and then you had a pink stringy pig cord suitable for forming a gross bracelet out of or whipping your dining companion with before popping it in your mouth and whisking it away to its intended destination.
I’d remembered deli bologna as being the height of cold cut tastiness, and it was from the deli that I purchased my ill-fated compressed hog swimsuit areas last night. It didn’t taste how I remembered it, yet not in any way I could be called upon to describe. At once different and same, right and wrong. The remainder of the evening, blissfully, remains a blur. All that remains is a general sense of not enjoying my weekend, then shuddering in bed while my wife comforted me while simultaneously watching DVR’ed episodes of “The Bonnie Hunt Show”, which proved a relaxing background to lapse into a bologna-barf coma with. I feel confident had she been privy to last night’s discomfort, Bonnie Hunt would have considerately applied a cold cloth to my forehead and the back of my neck while cooing motherly sounds of sympathy and encouragement.
So it remains to be seen how this will affect my ability to eat hot dogs, let alone Vienna sausages (another occasional childhood snack I used to like sometimes), and pork products in general. Bologna, when you get down to brass tacks, is just a big flat circle of hot dog, though unlike franks bologna is rarely eaten hot, and never as far as I know with ketchup, mustard, and relish. But it shares with hot dogs that dank snap, that lazy zest, an irresistible stink of a taste that well complements the always pleasant act of eating outdoors. My feeling is that hot dogs and bologna are just different enough beasts that I think I’ll be able to suck down a dog or three before long, although I can tell you that I’m not going to want one anytime soon. My relationship with bacon or sausage shouldn’t be affected; despite hailing from the same source, neither taste like bologna, and stake their roots in an entirely different (and, let’s face it, superior) meal. Bologna is one of those foods that belongs squarely on your lunchtime plate. It is a lunchmeat. Perhaps the fact that I was attempting to eat it for supper was what caused all the problems. No, I’ve had it for supper before. This was a belated loss of innocence, or in any event a reminder that there are once-comforting experiences that can never, and should never, be reaccessed.
If and when I father one or more children, will I permit them to eat bologna? That’s a really good question, and one I’ve been wrestling with ever since I finished that last paragraph. I can only imagine that I will, mainly because I foresee myself being walked all over by even the least demanding of offspring, but it won’t be easy to keep my mouth shut about the inevitable eventual aftereffects. Is it better to devise a clear-cut bologna timeline for my child in the interest of sparing him or her from a similar ordeal, or to let the chips fall where they may and hope for my child either a lifetime of bologna-eating uninterupted by puking or an outright distaste for the cold cut? Neither potential outcome seems likely, given my genetic makeup.
I have a lot to learn, and the road to knowledge is long and strewn with unappealing obstacles. But something I now know for a fact is that I am never going to eat bologna again.
Adieu, old friend. And fuck off.