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Fish Without Heads

Marge Lurie

After the Poem "Divorced Fathers and Pizza Crusts" by Mark Halliday

The connection between jilted lovers and granola is understandable. The jilted lover does not cook with enthusiasm. In fact, she's likely to empty out her entire fridge, ruthlessly dumping any foodstuff that could in any way be associated with the departed lover. Butter might seem neutral enough. She used butter before she met her ex. And presumably, if clogged arteries were not a concern, she could continue using it well into her later years. But now the stick of butter reminds her of him. Something that could, if untended, go rancid right before her very eyes. She throws out all the butter she owns. And all the vegetables and garlic she might have sauteed in the butter. And all the bread she might have toasted and served with butter. And all the peanut butter, because peanut butter is, in a sense, a kind of butter. And she throws out all the ravioli because it's there. And all the meat, because she wants to make a change of some sort -- now that change has found her -- and getting rid of the meat seems like a place to start.

Once her fridge is immaculate, she takes herself to the Fairway. It's unclear to her what exactly vegetarians eat.  All day, every day. But breakfast, at least, seems non-controversial enough. She cruises the granola aisle, studying each of the possible variants. Pecan. Cinnamon raisin. Original. Unoriginal. Organic. With and without cranberries. After carefully weighing the pros and cons, she settles on the unoriginal original walnut raisin. She shyly picks her head up to see if there are any handsome granola-lovers in the vicinity with whom to make small talk. Who knows what else they might have in common with a launching pad like granola to jumpstart things?

In the fruit aisle of the Fairway, she crafts her next personals ad. Aging female with granola fetish seeks an age-appropriate single guy. Period. But then she begins to embellish. It would help if he were employed, and had all his limbs.  Fat is icky.  Dumb is deadly. The list goes on and on, she realizes. It is too painful to want anything, in truth. And so she picks a peach from the fruit aisle, though in her past life, before she was a vegetarian, she hated peaches. It is possible that she's been wrong about peaches.

At the register, she sees a handsome man with two different kinds of granola in his cart, original and something else she can't quite make out. She feels him looking at her looking at his selections and averts her gaze. Does he smile, or does she just imagine it? Without her glasses it's impossible to tell. She collects her change, and heads for the Number 1 train.

Tomorrow, she may rethink everything. She may go back to the Fairway to check out the fish. The tuna steaks and the swordfish and the salmon. Fish without heads. Maybe the next day she'll buy a rack of lamb. She may want to sink her teeth into things again. It's possible. But for the moment, she's a vegetarian heading downtown on the Number 1.

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