Harpies: Give My Steak A Break

by Claudius J West

Harpy form World of WarcraftThe theme of our post, today, is the frustration that comes from people telling me what to eat. I’ll bet a dollar that at some point in your life you’ve felt the same.

Hey, if I’m choosing to take a momentary leap off the good-food wagon for an indulgence, I’d appreciate not getting a pitchfork shoved into me in an attempt to haul me back onboard.

In a roundabout way, it reminds me of Phineus, a Greek king. Phineus pissed off the gods by revealing too much of the future to his fellow mortals. A whiz at foreseeing “the future” but kinda dumb about his own future.

Zeus gave Phineus a choice of punishments: either be killed or be blinded. Phineus reckoned being blinded was better than being dead, but the way he put it was that he “wouldn’t mind never seeing the sun again.”

Naturally, this pissed off Helios, the sun-god. (Greek gods: a bunch of temperamental babies with low impulse control and a wide streak of cruelty toward non-gods.)

Helios sent  harpies (monsters that look like bird-women) to plague poor Phineus by snatching up his food every time he was about to dine, defiling and despoiling whatever they didn’t carry away.

(What is meant by “defiling” and “despoiling” is that they pooped like pigeons on a monument. I have to imagine those were giant, women-with-wings sized poops. In the days before Saran Wrap or freshness-seals, that kind of aerial attack anywhere near the potato salad meant a picnic catastrophe.)

(You might wonder why Phineus couldn’t have eaten indoors with the windows closed, or have set up anti-Harpy nets, or have ordered some dudes with bows and arrows  and baseball bats to guard him while he ate—he was, after all, a king.)

(Then again, probably better that he didn’t. If you want to really piss the gods off, beat them at their own game. Technicalities will not save you.)

Which is to say that if I want to indulge in a dietary naughtiness every now and then, I don’t want my special indulgence metaphorically pooped on by well-meaning but controlling people of my close acquaintance, thank you very much. ( . . . grumble, grumble, food Gestapo tactics, grumble.)

Has it ever happened to you that a person with your best interests at heart, who, at the  moment, has more will-power than you, reminds you of your terrible hypocrisy for even thinking about eating that crap, and how you are damaging your health by eating that crap, and how that crap is, in reality, a luge ride straight to Fat-City and eternal damnation? They only say it because they love you.

The choice is to obey them and forebear, or all happiness will drain out of your life, forever.

Here’s the deal: I’ve been putting food in my mouth for a long time. The food goes into a dark, wet place that, if my manners are correct, no one sees. Intimate things happen between the food and my tongue and my teeth and the whole swallowing process. It’s nobody else’s business. Flavor is just a part of the experience.

cute harpy

Be a sweet harpy, like this one.

Like I said: it’s intimate. That’s probably one of the big reasons it’s so hard for us to change our eating habits. Eating gives us intense pleasures, but purely personal pleasures. Sure, we can “share” a meal, break bread together and even dip out of the same bowl, but what happens once the food gets inside us is personal. For someone else, no matter how well-intentioned, to try to control that relationship doesn’t work for me.

I wonder if it’s the way smokers feel when their friends and loved ones implore them not to smoke?

Naw. Smokers deserve it.

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