I wasn't alarmed when, as president, George H.W. Bush publicly disclosed his dislike for broccoli. In fact, the news—it was a slow day, I suppose—came as a relief. After all, this was the world leader who selected Dan Quayle as his VP. Passing on the broccoli was just another poor choice that spoke to his character. (I lived in Texas for eleven years. I was SUPPOSED to be a Bush-man. There was no point arguing about the economy with the neighbours; broccoli was so much easier.)
Do veggies have the power to separate and divide? I still have a profile on a gay dating site, one of the blander ones, with penis and butt shots prohibited. This week I received a message from a newbie who actually lives reasonably close: in Vancouver, instead of Halifax and Toronto like other recent messengers. We've only exchanged a couple of brief emails so far, but he did pose an interesting question. My profile states that I am a vegetarian; his indicates he's a vegan. He asked if my being a vegetarian created problems in dating and if I thought people passed over profiles that dared include a V word.
And all this time I thought people were clicking past me because of the purple shirt. (My Barry Manilow reference in the title of my profile also seemed more problematic. But I felt "Ready to Take a Chance Again" summed up my stance far better than "I Want Your Sex".)
Does my choice to be a vegetarian deter people? (When I lived in Texas, the answer would have been obvious. I can still hear the waitress saying, "So what are you...a veg?!" In her regional dictionary, veg was synonymous with freak. This is the place where cattle ranchers sued our beloved Oprah, people.) In a way, it would be easy to conclude that the entire reason I'm single has to do with my diet. ("You're a really swell guy. It seems like you've got it all. But that tofu thing..." Come on! I buy tofu three times a year and usually end up throwing it out a month after the expiration date. Maybe I'll get to that stir-fry or that approximation of cheesecake next year.)
In my profile, I'm clear. Being a vegetarian is my choice. It's not a deal breaker. The only things I can't handle are watching people gnaw on ribs, tear apart a lobster or feast on a fish with the eyes intact. Even then, I cope. I keep the menus at the table and set up a little fort around me, blocking my downward vision. Or I find a spot on the wall just to the right of my eating companion's ear (which, I'd never noticed before, is sprouting an untamed thicket of hair).
So it's not a deal breaker for me, but is it for the carnivores/omnivores out there? In the real world, I don't think so. My best friend and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum with food choices. He refuses to step foot in a vegetarian restaurant. Indian restaurants, where I also have many choices, are not an option. There have been times when we've traveled together when we get tables for one at different restaurants. (This is especially true in Calgary where I've found many places without a single food option for me on the menu.) When we get together in Vancouver, it's for coffee or tennis. Once the percussive tummy symphony begins in either of us, we wave goodbye until next time.
Dietary differences are navigable. I've even managed to peacefully coexist on a week's vacation with a guy on the Atkins Diet. I once flirted for six months with a guy at the gym before we finally went on a date. His severe food allergies restricted him from garlic, onions and anything with gluten. He ordered a steak and asked to forgo the vegetables (cooked in garlic). Hey, I thought. Opposites attract. Even Paula Abdul and the dancing cat say so. Food didn't get in our way. No, I'm told it was that darned circuit party and some guy from Chicago with a dainty water bottle and tight undies who killed what would have blossomed into something blissful.
Ah, who am I kidding? What's love without a little gluten?
Internet dating sites aren't like the real world. They are speed dating mechanisms with two dozen "matches" coming at you twice a week. I always feel like I'm part of the cast of "Seinfeld" when I search online. (Remember? No reason was too petty for Jerry or George or Elaine to dismiss someone.) Vegetarian? VEGETARIAN?! Alien! Wacko!
I suppose I could delete the vegetarian tidbit. Save it for that first dinner, assuming we even clear the coffee date screen. But I figure if it's that big of an issue for someone else, why go through a couple of weeks of emails and a promising conversation over biscotti? The reason I mention it in the profile is in the off-chance that there actually is a single gay vegetarian out there in BC. Wouldn't that be a bonus?! Shared meals! A barbecue grill without fleshy remnants!
I just hope he doesn't love tofu. Or like AC/DC. Or have a thing for "Garfield" comics. Some differences really are insurmountable.