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I Wanted A Raise:
and All I Got Were These Pink Crocs

I’ve had it with soy.

Soy milk, soy beans, soy chocolate, soy hamburgers, soy tofu, soy laxatives. Soy Vey! It’s not you, soy, it’s me, and I think that we should see other legumes /vegetable by-products and bachelorettes/ frazzled producers. Thanks for all the memories, p.s., I hate you.

       Jane Kathryn Simmons        Page

             
             

I could be on great terms with soy… I could even be caught having a pint with the occasional bean sprout, eggplant, flax seed, wheat grass, veggie burger or tofu lump. (Okay, that last one’s a lie. I can’t eat food that’s served in a semi-soft white cube—it feels too much like a Kubrick film in my mouth). But living in Boulder, one of the healthiest cities in the United States, has split my brain like a non-fat coconut, pitted my medulla with a Ginsu knife like an organic avocado, and left me lying in the Brussels Sprouts BoGo bin to die.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against being healthy. Boulder’s firm determination to eat well, play outside and live long, happy lives filled with black Labradors and running shorts is a pretty decent idea of having a good time. But if one chooses to live by extreme caloric moderation, one also becomes extremely vulnerable to a social-life-threatening disease called KnowItAll-ism. Symptoms include extreme preaching, exaggerated finger pointing, and all too often, a very incorrect but hilarious run-through of scientific evidence.

While living in Boulder, I have been informed under no uncertain circumstances that the turkey sandwiches I make will kill me (yellow mustard is the Devil’s Jaundice; all bagged lettuce is rancid with e.coli), the pollen allergies I have are actually a manifestation of wheat entering my blood and pillaging my village, and the hummus I eat with baby carrots is rotting with unnamable, unspeakable chemical additives (first ingredient: chick. Second ingredient: peas).

Once, while standing in front of the microwave at work, I was tackled at full-speed by a co-worker. “What are you doing?!” he gasped, wiping organic sweat from his forehead. After an eternity of ellipses, I explained that I was heating up my lunch. His eyes widened, and then filled with sympathetic tears. “Don’t you know that the gamma rays will enter your brain and practically make you radioactive?” he whispered, horrified.

In the city of fat-free, sugar-free, preservative-free, gluten-free, meat-free, dairy-free, taste-free, fun-free, and willy-free, there is one church whose beacon shines brightest above the rest, casting a glow of immortality and inflated prices over our fair, mountain-studded land. I will change its name to protect the innocent and call this religious institution something clever, like Whole Foods.

Whole Foods really is a religion in Boulder. And much like the trendy Catholic church in my hometown that offers a bi-weekly transvestite bingo night, this institution also has a little sumpin’ for everyone. Hippies, Yuppies, Soccer Moms and Trustafarians crowd into its pleasantly lit pews on Sunday, Friday, and Saturday to be humbled by the divine righteousness of produce. They take communion from the bulk bins of cereal and dried fruit (“Communion”—a doctrine that says thy might have thee a free lunch if thine hands art stealthy enough), they order $250 worth of vegan cruelty-free veal (perhaps made from a rutabaga youth strapped to a wooden stake in the garden), and sometimes a few stragglers simply raise a hand as an act of Witnessing— or as an act of claiming their order of Tempeh bacon from the twenty-plus person lines.

I’m going to take our Gourd’s name in vain here and go as far as venturing that the marketing directors of Whole Foods are goddamned geniuses. Upon entering the Temple, I must venture far, far away from the store’s sole entrance to get to the promised land, which is guarded by a fleet of Mom ‘n Pop cash registers. The worn wood floor panels lead me to the chocolate cakes (I allow myself to eat these in one sitting because fat particles don’t exist in this magical land of health).

After eating an entire chocolate cake, I usually find myself lying against a table of various squid parts, unbuttoning the belly-section of my shirt and weeping tears of salt-free joy. Unable to rock my body into a standing position, a Team Member (yes, really—“employees” don’t exist between these gilded walls) gently helps me up off the floor, wipes the frosting from my mouth, picks a few stray crumbs from my eyebrows and steers me toward the beverages (“One must always hydrate and stretch after working out,” she tells me with a voice like a carb-free angel). I select a bottle of SmartWater and stumble back into the crowded aisles. All those years drinking RegularWater at home... I could’ve aced my SATs, I could’ve BEEN somebody! O’ SmartWater, take me to your Litre! (sorry... sorry. It’s been a long day at work.)

There are no clocks. There are no loud noises. There are no recognizable trans fats. Tiny carts wheel their way around me like sheep grazing in a vast Swiss meadow. Even after paying, a newspaper-filled countertop forms the shape of a magical rainbow toward a row of masseuses beckoning me toward halo-shaped massage chairs. Who could leave this sacred place?

It’s been several hours, but I finally make my way out into the dark night, still smiling as I stumble through a sea of hybrids and Vespas. I have lost weight already—at least two and a half pounds straight from my wallet. I have dined on Healthy Food. I have sipped from the Fountain of Youth. But once I return home, the sturdy paper bag a pierced and dreadlocked Team Employee hooked me up with always bears disappointment. The chicken looks like chicken... the carrots suspiciously resemble carrots.

Where are the magical leprechauns, promising me flat abs and a lifetime without wrinkles?

Which part of my bagels are gluten-free?

Where are the unicorns frolicking in the silver waterfalls?

Across from my apartment, a man dressed in teal spandex rappels down the side of his building after a Free Trade coffee-filled day at his software development job. Above him, his golden retriever clips a carabiner to his collar and begins the same ascent, eagerly anticipating a sausage-flavored WeightWatchers dog biscuit.

From the floor below me, the smell of vegetarian Chick’n Nuggets wafts up from the pottery kiln used for cooking by the Bludy-Stake family (their children, Medium and Rare, only make noise when they’re playing Grand Theft Auto on their hemp PlayStations).

This is the loneliest part of my day... when I gaze out into the city around me and wonder why am I so alone? Like Thoreau, who fled to his beloved Walden to breathe nature in and exhale oppression out, this is the time when I quiet my mind, stand silhouetted against the burnt umber sunset in my doorway, and let the wind gently toss my hair.

The Team Employees would tell me to liberate my mind and feel this moment.

I feel this wind. I feel these thoughts.

Immediately afterwards, I will also feel the speed dial to the pizza place.

Jane Kathryn

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