Lenten Series #2: I’ll Know More By Easter

I’ll just say it. God, I miss meat.

I’m a few weeks into my Lenten commitment to abstain from meat for 40 miserable days, and I can’t bear the piety any longer. I miss meat.

Right now I want a stuffed Juicy Lucy burger from Scotty’s Brewhouse over on Main Street. It’s a double patty with cheddar cheese wedged in the middle. Normally, I try not to eat one of these more than once a month because they’re decadent and self-indulgent. God only knows how many calories and fat grams energize that lovely sandwich. When I do have one, I savor the gooey cheese and hot grease that usually spurts all over my fingers when I sink my teeth into that first bite. When the cheese oozes out, I try to gather it all together so as to avoid losing any of its compliment to the dense heat of that red meat.

Oh Jesus. I miss meat. I miss it so much right now that I think I could write a poem, an ode, a sweet hymn to the comfort I would have in just one single bite.

A few days into Lent, after I’d made my public declaration via blog, my husband Sam ordered a pizza and buffalo chicken nuggets from a local pizza joint. Normally when he orders this combination, I’m in the habit of taking one of the nuggets and dipping it in blue cheese before he sees me. In other words, I sneak one before he can get to it. It’s a greedy kind of gulping as if I need to get the first bite (similar to my need to get the last word during an argument). I usually swallow it down before he’s even seen that I’ve taken a piece. Later, he offers me some once he’s sat down to eat them. I oblige, take one, knowing I’ve already stolen a chunk for my own avaricious edification.

This time was no different. I opened the box, the buffalo sauce a near-visible cloud enveloping my head. I hooked a chunk between my thumb and forefinger and shoveled it in, the heat of the buffalo sauce barely registering before I snarfed it down.

Ah. Buffalo sauce. It is good.

Then I grabbed a plate to load with cheesy pizza and  thought, “This no-meat thing isn’t so bad. I can still eat cheesy pizza.” And then I stopped. I’d just eaten a piece of meat without even thinking. Without even realizing it. I started laughing, astonished. I looked at Sam.

“Do you know what I just did?” I asked.

“No. What?”

“I just ate a chicken nugget without even thinking about it!”

He laughed at me, too. Then he told me about a blog post from someone who was writing about his own Lenten experiences. The man had given up sweets, but found himself mindlessly treading the same path he did every morning to the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru for his morning donut and coffee. It wasn’t until he’d taken his first bite that he realized what he was doing. His first thought was to give up the entire Lenten enterprise. Instead, he calmly put the donut back in its bag and threw it away as he drove out of the parking lot, laughing at himself the whole time.

It was pretty funny–my buffalo chicken nugget debacle. But, at the same time, not so funny. Pretty sobering, in fact. Since then, I’ve alternately laughed about it and recognized why I need my Lenten discipline.

Man-o-man. I really do miss meat. I won’t be eating that Juicy Lucy today. But I sure do want one.

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