It’s been 5,908 days since I have eaten a fruit or vegetable.
This isn’t a joke. This talent may not be superhero-worthy, but that’s likely because the Justice League clearly hasn’t gotten around to my application yet.
Mind you, 5,908 is a fairly exact number. The proof is in a picture from my third birthday party. It’s pretty classic, as photos go — a child holding a banana, mouth wide open, probably smiling but possibly crying. The jury is still out on that one.
Another awkward confession — the majority of my life before 16 is extremely hazy. So what I know about childhood, I’ve learned by watching a few Gerber commercials and Discovery Channel documentaries. I tend to think that kids might not even like eating fruits or vegetables.
Shocking, I know. For some reason — on the eighth day — God created phrases like “here comes the choo-choo train” and “open up for the airplane.” It’s kind of interesting that we are supposed to open our mouths for motorized vehicles. There must be some sort of hidden meaning there. As a history major, I’m inclined to think this has something to do with capitalism and the Industrial Revolution, but my friend studying psychology swears that Freud would make some sort of phallic analysis. I’ll spare you all the jokes.
Apparently I came to some brilliant realization after my third birthday party and joined my peers by resisting the oppressive fruits and vegetables. What separates me from the pack — or the berry bunch, if you will — is that I never caved to the pressure.
To this day, when I see salad I can feel my stomach shrink up like a raisin in the sun. Luckily Langston Hughes isn’t around; just a lot of chopped vegetables next to an imaginary Pillsbury Doughboy, willing me not to make his past nutritional mistakes. I never listen. But I always rub his belly.
These days I avoid fruits and veggies at any cost. I’ve boiled my diet down to five main food groups: bagels, cheese, eggs, tortillas and cheese, again. New federal guidelines may force an end to my streak before it hits 6,000 due to my love of pizza. However, I am confident the rule was only changed because someone in our big government was jealous of Herman Cain’s pizza-infused smile.
This isn’t information I readily share, because when I tell people, their quizzical reactions are more predictable than my Facebook newsfeed before a football game. They always ask,”Why?”
My first reaction is to shake them and scream, “Just because!” I don’t do this, of course. The tipping point was probably when my grandmother took out a restraining order on me.
There must be some sort of double standard at play. How come Gushers and Fruit by the Foot don’t count? The word “fruit” is literally in the title. Where is big government when I actually need it?
In reality, the answer to the predictable question is actually quite simple. Fruits and veggies freak me out. Imagine if you picked the earwax flavored jellybeans like Dumbledore did or if a serial killer kidnapped you and locked you in his basement (and then gave you the jellybean).
In a world where most of my food can be processed to taste better, how can I enjoy anything natural? Fruits are sticky, and vegetables are dirty. Not my cup of tea. But give me a little sour cream and a few cheese quesadillas and I’m in heaven.
I love nature just as much as the next person – probably even more. I just don’t want to eat it. I’d rather enjoy it on a full stomach of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and a bag of Doritos.
Seventeen years without fruits or vegetables hasn’t been so bad. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the world. For example, I’ve deduced that either scurvy does not exist or that I would have made a damn good pirate back in the day.
I realize that this entire column has been hard to swallow. For many of you, fruits and veggies are simply parts of your day. For me, though, it’s a struggle to even write about them.
But in the end, this is me. Each of us has these strange things we seek to hide from the rest of the world. I encourage you all to not hide from the weird quirks that make you who you are.
Tomorrow will be my 5,909th day without eating any fruits or vegetables, but hey, who’s counting?
Yonah Lieberman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @YonahLieberman.