Around 26 years ago, I woke up and went downstairs to join my two older brothers for breakfast. The meal varied day to day depending on what mom made and what my brothers hadn’t consumed the entirety of. On this day, the menu contained bacon. Sweet glorious bacon that my first older brother cooked up. He had a very close relationship with it. Eggs was the most adventurous my mom would get for us in the morning.
I’m not sure why mom chose this day as opposed the countless others, but she did. Out of nowhere came some words that would change the rest of my life to this day. Four words. “You shouldn’t eat pork”. This was directed at all three of us, but it really only sunk in with my oldest brother and I. My other brother was quite a rebel in those days and looked at the request as if he’d be severing a thumb.
I’ve had this conversation many times over with people. One question that always comes up is “You didn’t ask why?” It’s simple. Because my mom asked me not to. “What if she asked you to jump of a bridge?” She wouldn’t. “Why not?” Because she likes me.
If you had half descent parents, you probably understand the relationship of give and take. As kids, all we do is take. And yet my folks were always happy to provide what we needed, when we needed it. So for what seemed like such a small request to the crazy amounts I’ve received in return, I didn’t question it. But here’s the thing. 26 years later… I’m questioning it.
I’m fairly confident that if I started to eat pork tomorrow, my mom wouldn’t stop loving me. Over the past few years, she’s commented that I can eat whatever I’d like. It wasn’t until recently that I really needed to think why I kept this up. It also doesn’t help that I’m addicted to the food channel and seeing all these specials on amazing smoked, cured, processed pork products, some of which were kissed by fairies and others brined in unicorn tears.
After a few days of thinking about it (not a few days straight… that would be a bit obsessive), I realized what the biggest reason was. Reg… my oldest brother who passed away almost 11 years ago. And who along with me, didn’t eat pork at my mom’s request. It’s hard not to want to mimic your older brother when you’re 11. When you’re 37, it’s hard to break old habits. Maybe out of fear of losing a connection we had, maybe to pay tribute, certainly not to keep the memory alive. I do that by wearing a necklace with an R on it and every so often drinking a crap beer he liked.
So where am I know? What decision have I made? Sorry to be anti-climactic, but I’ve haven’t. I’m still in debate.