Besides absconding with my soul mate curly fries, primal makes my wallet circle sad faces on feelings charts. Gay Panda is fortunate that in a time of economic strife, the Panda Household is doing all right. I can’t go out and buy a mansion, or walk down the street cackling and shuffling hundred–dollar bills to make people envious. The limo that passed you today on the freeway did not have Gay Panda in it. But I don’t scrimp to get through the month, and if I see a snazzy shirt in a store, I buy it. I could not do so three days in a row, but this is far from qualifying as a life of deprivation.
Yet primal makes my wallet sad, and I make it worse by shopping at Whole Foods. When I first went there, I hated it. The color scheme was anemic. The brands were foreign and it seemed so corporate hippie. Now when I go to Safeway, I’m overwhelmed. The products are so loud, dazzling reds and bright blues, block print and splashy graphics and free prizes*. I feel under siege and out of breath by the choices, the towering displays and Today Only Sales. Food at Whole Foods is food. Food at Safeway is an extreme sport, and I just want to leave. My only hesitation is at the meat counter, where what organic they have is a little cheaper.
If I didn’t need to control my spending at all, I would buy only antibiotic-free, pasture-centered, farmer-hugged meats. Lady Friend keeps me on the gay-and-narrow in produce, but I don’t need encouragement in the meat department. A friend got me a subscription to PETA, and I found the magazines both likeable and ludicrous. Of course I don’t think animals should be confined to a small cage, pumped full of hormones, fed the wrong diet, and slaughtered by Chucky. But I won’t anthropomorphize my chickens. Avada Kedavra does not sing and dance in chorus with Imperio and Cruciatus when my back is turned; I doubt that Wingardium Leviosa contemplates philosophy by the setting sun. They lead good chicken lives of bugs and grass, and one day, I’ll eat them.
Demanding that ALL my meat be antibiotic-free, pastured-centered, and farmer-hugged would make my grocery bill hit the roof. Is it better to eat some organic and some conventional, or buy what I can of organic and skip conventional? But I’m not going to eat tofu for protein. How is it ethical to support conventional? Yet we pick and choose our ethics. It wasn’t like I walked to Whole Foods. I drove my car there, supporting the oil industry. When I bought that snazzy shirt, I did not trace down its origins to make sure that it did not generate under the tears of an abused sweatshop orphan.
Since I do not have the space to raise sheep or the desire to make my own clothes, and I don’t slaughter my own cows or walk everywhere, I compromise. The Goth Teen Panda who sulks about in my heart says that I have sold out my soul, and Adult Panda cringes, and then tells it to put on Nine Inch Nails and write some broody poetry about Angst and shut up. Sometimes my dollar goes to good things. Other times, it doesn’t. Goth Teen Panda is an absolutist, and would insist that Adult Panda could have redirected the snazzy shirt money to the organic ground beef. Adult Panda does not need to spend $20 on Netflix every month, or purchase bubbly water, or have an Internet connection. Adult Panda chose to install AC when Goth Teen Panda would have cooled by the glow of superiority.
Goth Teen Panda: So you’ve chosen to consign a LIVING, BREATHING creature to the misery of a feedlot, so that you can drink San Pellegrino and watch MST3K.
Adult Panda: Yes.
Goth Teen Panda: I can’t believe we’re the same person. You SUCK.
Adult Panda: Yes.