They were just a bit too crunchy for our liking. I think the term that would eventually get coined was “granola head.” But for now, we used crunchy. Every topic soon descended into a discussion of how macrobiotics, brown rice, oats, proper addition of citrus, and kale would work to prevent all the political ills of the world; and keep you young into your eighties.
It wasn’t that I disagreed with some of their dietary intensity; I usually enjoyed eating at their place. Clare and Jules were great cooks, and in terms of diet and the environment, much of their philosophy made sense. But their continual talk about it as if it were a universal solvent for all problems bothered me. Of course, a good diet and gardening would not solve all issues without much other help. But, in our get-togethers, all discussions landed back at this juncture.
The monomania led to a backing off from social gatherings. We ghosted them. Calls went unanswered, and we avoided a favorite coffeehouse that they frequented. Finally, in the middle of summer, a bundle of kale was found on the doorstep with a note attached: ” We miss you!!!”
A couple of years passed. We had relaxed our vigilance and returned to old haunts. Then there they were at our table. Hoping for the best, we greeted them and invited them to sit and join us. At first, it seemed as though they had learned restraint, then noticing that my index finger was bandaged, a flood of advice on healing gushed forth. It appeared that they had spent the last two years at various institutes. They had transitioned through Vedic, Magento-dynamism, and naturopathic traditions in a record-breaking progression and were now practitioners.
As gently as we could, we excused ourselves; we had tickets and couldn’t miss the show. Lovely seeing you again!
A few years passed. We were older, more settled, and less likely to spend time in old haunts. But for an anniversary, we went to the restaurant where we had met, just for nostalgia’s sake. As we were indulging in an “Oh, no, we really shouldn’t” dessert, our least favorite couple popped up. Begging the server for a check, we planned a rapid exit strategy only to be trapped at the door. Clare and Jules had not aged well and they sensed we were not eager to see them. Mixing just a bit of spite into my greeting, I asked them how their High Colonic Purges and crisp kale juice cocktail regime was going. Seeming not to take offense, Clare glowed as she informed me that they had been freed from the wheel of shame after finding the true love and blessings of following the Reverend Tollofsson. Jules smiled as he pressed a brochure into my hands and asked, ” are you free on Wednesday? We have a sacred literature study session! This week it’s the Innuma Elish.”
We smiled and said another time would have to do; we were both scheduled for colonoscopies and couldn’t cancel the dates. Silently we vowed to stay clear of any of our former haunts in the future.
At this point, enough years have passed that we tend to look back on the events of our youth as mere source material for blog posts. Sadly though, the other day on NPR, I was listening to a show on counter-culture types who had joined right-wing causes like Q-anon. At one point, they were interviewing Jules.
I sighed, turned the radio off, and continued on my way to the lumber yard. So much intensity. So many searches for the truth and so much wasted effort.
Sometimes you need to be still, shut up and do one thing well.