As a consequence of being immersed in Christian morals and politics, there comes a time in the life of every American Jew when you just have to throw in the towel and say, "Fuck it, I'm going to embrace this Jesus business and use it to my advantage." And voila, we get to celebrate theologically irrelevant things like Mardi Gras, paid leave for Christmas, and candy sales the day after Easter.
Yet along with the festive we have the morose, and so my Dear Readers, we find that Lent is again upon us.
Every year for the past however many years, I've tried to give something up for Lent. Since moving to New Orleans, I've found this practice to be a useful post-Carnival detox method. But some Lents (Lentos?) I am more successful than others. One year I gave up driving, which went well mostly because I bike 80% of the time anyway. Another time I gave up gossip, which went horribly: "If I hadn't given up gossip for Lent," I would whisper conspiratorially to a friend, "I'd tell you about what happened between A and B and why C is really really mad about it!"
What can I say - I'm a bad Christian.
I've heard that you're supposed to give up something that symbolizes a sacrifice. Most of my friends who are doing it are giving up things like cigarettes, meat, or Facebook, but I'm a nonsmoking vegetarian with a Media Empire to manage. So here we are at this year's creative Lenten challenge: no eating out in restaurants.
Dear Readers, you may already know that I do not like cooking, nor do I really care very much about food in general, unless it's offensively spicy. I have written about my disdain for the internet pornography that masquerades as food blogs, and indeed dislike that literary culture so intensely that it actually pains me to present to you my new Shtetl Chic feature: "Lenten Challenge: 40 Days of Feasting with Indifference."
Every day I will document my travails in home cookery, except for Wednesday, when I was still recovering from Mardi Gras and was thusly unable to leave my bed until 2pm, at which point I burned [ed: pan-seared?] cauliflower and ate it with carrots and hot sauce. Fancy, I know.
Anyway, yesterday was more successful because they fed me at work, and also I tapped into my pre-scheduled Valentines Day exception to the Lenten rule:
I had to attend a First Aid training at my job, and though I was promised a free lunch, I came laden with snacks, fearing (rightly, as it turned out) the inevitable ham&cheese sammy. But Readers, it pays to have friends in high places, and I was able to convince the house chef to hook me up with a veggie burger that managed to be both chewy AND soggy at the same time [ed: versatile!]. The experience of eating it was diminished [ed: enhanced?] somewhat by the photos of "Sucking Chest Wounds" that the First Aid trainer failed to obscure during mealtime, but hey, beggars can't be choosers.
All was not lost, however, as Valentines dinnertime rapidly approached. We had originally planned to go to the Waffle House in Waveland, Mississippi (because nothing says Valentines Day like the Waffle House in Waveland, Mississippi - no really, it was my idea to go), but we went to Lost Love Lounge instead and ordered everything vegetarian on the menu, which suited my purposes just fine.
So I have survived two days of my Lenten Challenge for this year, and I feel much closer to the spiritual enlightenment I will surely achieve by Easter, a day I will forever henceforth associate with take-out.