Operation: Enduring Tofu chronicles the saga which began nineteen years ago when I became a vegetarian because I met this cute girl named Robin who was one. I’ve been attempting to contact her as I re-evaluate this decision in my life. You can see how the story unfolded here:
Chapter I: The Legend of Shiny – An Introduction
Chapter II: Acquired Memories
Chapter III: The Celery Stalk
Intermission: a short video (not by me)
Chapter IV: The Name Game
Chapter V: First Contact
Chapter VI – The Call
Getting in touch with Robin Sparkles by phone was much, much more difficult than I thought it would ever be.
Since we last spoke on the phone weeks ago for just a moment, things have been busy for her as well as for me. Work was busy for both of us. And she was dealing with some unexpected home repairs as well as a busy schedule with her family. I was going to give it about three weeks before contacting her again. After all — I didn’t want to be a nuisance and make this a dreadful experience for her. At least super-dreadful…
I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I received a phone message from her. She was spending the weekend in New York City with a friend of hers, away from her husband and kids. And this friend was Debbie — another participant of our teen tour nineteen years ago! The timing was wonderful – I could talk to both of them and catch up! I was told to call any time; I left a voicemail message on her cel phone at the beginning of the weekend.
I didn’t get a call back.
But I did get an email at the end of the weekend:
Sorry I missed you yesterday! Deb and I didn’t get back from dinner until after midnight. We had a great weekend and I told her about your project. I think she’d be happy to talk to you too if you’re interested. She thought it sounded like a really interesting project.
I was wondering, I know its not ideal, but since we keep playing phone tag, would it be helpful to get our conversation going through email?
Yikes. Now, don’t get me wrong — I have no problem with Debbie. She and I had a great time on the trip nearly two decades ago. But my crush wasn’t on her (although apparently she, too, was a vegetarian). As much as I valued our friendship long ago, she didn’t quite have the same impact on the way I lived my life (or at least what food I ate). I hadn’t been specific about “the project” to Robin, but it would become quite apparent that it was really all about her.
And I was thinking that I might have to resort to just doing this over email. If we couldn’t get in touch by phone, that might be the only option. I wouldn’t get the instant gratification one would get over the phone. I really wanted the true, knee-jerk reaction once she heard what I had to say, but I guess I would need to give her time to respond.
Or, perhaps, think me creepy enough to not write back.
But all of this changed last week! After playing email tag again, she called! And I was home! She had a good 30 minutes to talk before she was to pick up her kid at a camp activity. We were going to chat!
I began by disclosing what I had meant by the “writing project” I had been working on. I mentioned that I was a blogger with a limited, yet dedicated audience. And that I was writing a series about my recollection of my youth. And that I had a story from our summer in 1989 which I remembered well, and I wanted to see if she remembered it the same way.
And I told her the whole story: “Robin, When I started that summer, meeting 44 other teens with whom I would be spending the next six weeks, I wasn’t yet a vegetarian. I was leaning in that direction because meat wasn’t a huge staple in my life. But as soon as I saw this one girl and discovered that she was a vegetarian, I realized that it was my calling as well — if only to have something in common with her so she would pay more attention to me. And that girl was you.
“And although my master plan of having this girl fall madly in love with me that summer didn’t even come close to manifesting itself, we were still friends on the bus. And I remained a vegetarian — so much so, in fact, that when I met the woman I would eventually marry seven years later — an omnivore who loved eating meat — I continued my vegetarianism, not changing for her.
“And you’ve since become part of the folklore of my life, Robin: when people ask why I became a vegetarian, I talk about Robin Sparkles and the summer of 1989. When the opportunity arises to make fun of me about how easily I was swayed by the women in my life, all anyone has to do is bring up that fateful summer I became a vegetarian.
“And that’s why I wanted to talk with you, Robin. I wanted to make you aware of all of this. Of how I had a major crush on you which has taken me on a unique dietary journey. And how, throughout all this time, you’ve been a part of my life in this manner.”
“So — any initial thoughts?”
And there was a long, long pause.
To be continued…