I know why dinosaurs are extinct. Forget the Ice Age. Forget meteorites falling to earth and crushing them. Forget every theory you’ve ever heard.
Their extinction was two-fold: starvation and heartbreak. And this is how I know…
Recently, Cowboy’s medical tests revealed gut issues that we hadn’t seen in many years. One of the culprits was his having consumed too many inflammatory fats, and not enough anti-inflammatory foods. Translation: too much meat, and not enough things like spinach and kale.
Kale. When was that invented? I never heard of kale when I was growing up. Celery, lettuce of various varieties, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens – we were a very green family. But kale came on the scene several years ago, and quickly took first place in the Health-Craze Vegetable Everyone’s Talking About. All over Facebook, leaf-eaters were posting recipes, including kale smoothies and kale chips. I shuddered, thinking, How can you put “kale” and “chip” in the same sentence? But, apparently, kale chips are all the rage. If I go to a party, and someone puts a bowl of dip in front of me with a side of kale, I’ll have a little rage of my own.
But, I’ll do anything for Cowboy’s health. Within two hours of reviewing his test results with the doctor, my refrigerator looked like a winter food supply for Bugs Bunny. We had carrots. We had bell peppers. We had celery, spinach, and yes, we had kale – frozen and fresh. And all organic. Because that’s our goal in life: everything organic. Poor Flash; he had a hard time catching on, in spite of my reminders every time he went to the store. When I’d told him I was expanding our organic horizon beyond just meat, he was concerned.
“Everything organic?” he asked. “That’s so expensive. How will we do that?”
“Well, if we’re not buying junk food, we’ll have more money for the healthy stuff.”
His face reflected what my heart was feeling: A life without junk food is hardly worth living.
“We can do this,” I exclaimed, lying to both of us.
The next time Flash came home from the store with produce, I asked, “Is it organic?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. He didn’t know. How could he not know? More importantly, why didn’t he check?
“Flash, it all has to be organic. If it’s not, it has been sprayed with chemicals.”
“They are oranges. They have thick skin.”
“But I don’t, Flash. This translates as not caring about our health.”
He rolled his eyes, as I made a dirty-produce pile for us to return to the store. And by “us,” I mean Flash. There was no way I could return yet another load of toxin-laden food to the store; they’d been gracious enough to let me return the first batch, when I’d made the same mistake Flash made. But, because Flash hates making returns, and I was incredibly busy with Cowboy, I gave some of the produce away to a low-maintenance eater. The cheap celery that nobody wanted went to that vegetable garden in the sky. Now, Flash and I are reformed shoppers, and abide by the if-it’s-sprayed-it-stays-away rule.
Two weeks ago, I came home from work to a wonderful aroma. It permeated every square inch of the house.
“What did you fix for dinner tonight?” I asked the Master Chef.
“Some grilled chicken and kale.”
“That doesn’t smell like chicken, Flash.” I couldn’t imagine it being the kale. But, indeed, it was that weird green stuff sautéed with onions. I took one bite, and fell in love. My taste buds freaked out, as I said, “That’s fantastic, babe. How did you do that?”
“I cooked it in some coconut oil.” And that, dear reader, is his secret. When Flash uses oil, it’s enough to keep a car going for three months or 3,000 miles. No wonder it was great; it had mega-calories added. But that was ok. Whatever it took for Cowboy to eat more greens.
But by Day 6 of The New, Improved Lindquist Diet, I was depressed. I can’t do this, I thought. How are we going to survive?
I called Flash at work. “I’m starving,” I said.
“Starving? We could feed a heard of rabbits.”
“I need meat.”
“Oh, me too!” he wailed.
Growing up, Mom often cooked all-vegetable dinners, and they were great. But somehow, over the years, I’d grown more meat-dependent. As had Cowboy; he’d eaten so much beef on a regular basis, I expected him to moo any day. As for Flash, a meal without meat is simply an appetizer. Unless it’s a salad; Flash is the Best Salad Maker in the World.
So, I’d been trying to cook more meatless meals, supplementing Cowboy’s diet with the protein power the doctor suggested. But I was a desperate woman. And a hungry woman. So I did what every mature and responsible mother would do.
“Let’s go out to eat tonight,” I suggested.
“Oh, thank God,” Flash agreed.
Because, you know, if you go to a restaurant to eat, you can’t control whether or not your food is organic. The doctor said to check sources, but that would take hours of calling restaurants or a questionnaire to hand to every waiter on every visit. I was too famished for that.
We came home happy and full that night.
“Okay, no more going out to eat for awhile,” I proclaimed.
But I needed something sweet. All my pre-Easter candy was gone. When Easter came, I ate my dark chocolate Hershey’s bar that I’d put in my own basket, and a few of the caramel-pecan-chocolate candies the Bunny left me. But after biting off the top my chocolate bunny’s ears the day after Easter, in a moment of strength, I threw away the rest of my loot from the big furry sugar-pusher.
The next day, I regretted my move, but stayed resilient while reminding Flash to eat his candy sparingly. The third day after Easter, I stole only one little square of Flash’s Hershey’s bar that I’d hid from myself in his sock drawer. I maintained for a little while, with the occasional help from a low-sugar cookie.
Meanwhile, I was limiting Cowboy’s sugar, serving plenty of fibrous vegetables, and feeling good about that. I am the poster child for Do as I Say, Not as I Do, but I’d been eating more vegetables too, hoping they’d cancel out the sugar intake from the past few months. Okay, from the past few years.
But living in a state of less meat, especially beef, and less sugar, my depression worsened.
And that, my friend, leads me to my explanation of what caused the first wave of dinosaur extinction. Since the majority of dinos were vegetarians, it’s only reasonable to deduce that they starved to death; living creatures can be meatless for only so long. Just look at pictures of them; have you ever seen a smiling dinosaur? Of course not. They’re not happy, they’re hangry. Combined with the fact they had no sugar-laden treats, those famished dinosaurs simply gave up on eating, shoving their plates across their tables, with looks of disdain on their faces. Dinosaurs everywhere were dropping dead from lack of appetizing meals. Oh sure, God made them vegetarians, but a little experimentation with other food types never hurt anyone. Apparently, the veggie dinosaurs were dogmatic in their culinary ways. And they paid the ultimate price. As will I, if I continue to live without more beef for much longer. But my friend Lola seems to be surviving without bovine delights; she’s an extreme leaf-eater, a Veggie Freak, a Seagan - the only meat she eats is seafood. I don’t know how she’s still standing.
The second wave of dinosaur extinction came when the meat eaters saw all their vegetarian friends dropping dead. It’s hard enough to lose one friend; losing entire species was too much for their little tender hearts to take. Without chocolate to boost their spirits, they went to bed heartbroken, and never woke up.
And so, while I’m trying to figure out how to not die off in the midst of Cowboy’s improving health, I’m turning back to my old sweetheart, sugar.
After I left work last Monday, I decided to swing by Kroger. Just a little ice cream won’t hurt. They have that dairy-free, coffee-flavored ice cream, I told myself. For the most part, I’m dairy-free, as is Cowboy. Our list of food requirements is longer than a coffee order at Starbucks.
I walked quickly to the frozen foods section, and found the impossible: an organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, coffee ice cream. It was a starvation miracle – perfection in a plastic tub.
Then, my eyes spied the ultimate. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. I’d had the dairy-free version before, and it was amazing. I searched every shelf for it. I saw the regular kind, but knew I’d pay the price for that the next day with allergy symptoms. About to walk away, I glanced down and found an itty bitty four-ounce container of the regular Cherry Garcia. That much wouldn’t hurt, I told myself. Small amounts are fine.
Dare I? Poor Flash was at home. Unsuspecting. As I gazed at Ben and Jerry, temptation got the best of me. I reached in, and gave in to the lust of my taste buds. Quickly, I sprinted to the paper and plastic goods aisle, and grabbed a box of plastic spoons, so I could indulge in the car.
Flash will never know, I thought. He thinks I’m working late.
It was everything I’d dreamed it would be. After indulging in Ben and Jerry, all four ounces, I had a third of the coffee ice cream, then drove home.
Entering the house, I kissed Flash on top of his head, so he wouldn’t smell Ben and Jerry on my lips. Whew. All was well. I went to sleep with visions of frozen chocolate-covered cherries in my head. And I had no remorse. After all, Flash had his box of Honey Nut Cheerios, contraband in our house, hidden in the garage. Well, it was only half a box. He said I’d eaten the entire first box, so I bought a second one for him, but I had only a couple of bowls from that box. I hadn’t had oats in years, and Cowboy can’t eat them, so I had to make up for about eight years of no Cheerios.
I feel better now. We’re still eating tons of veggies, Cowboy is gaining much-needed weight, and I’m trying to adjust to our greener life. But now, with my sugar need fulfilled, I may begin craving steak soon. Or a burger. Or ground beef. Or beef tips.
But I’ll find a way to continue to exist. One night, on a dark ride home from work, I’ll find the object of my desire in a take-out order from paradise. I’ll come into the house smiling, with no regrets, as I kiss Flash on the head, to hide the smell of beef on my breath.
Whatever it takes to survive this all-out militant Veggie Mission.