Half-and-Half

Do you find that you grow less lactose-tolerant as the years roll on? It seems astonishing to me that during my adolescence I would start the day with a large glass of milk accompanied by a milk-filled bowl of cereal and not need to spend all of first period doubled over in agony. The past is truly a foreign country. 

Mind you, I still consume dairy, particularly in cheese form. But I have to practice moderation. A splash of half-in-half in coffee is fine. Likewise for the occasional scoop of ice cream. But a glass of milk? Horrors. 

I think it’s God’s way of teaching me a lesson for laughing at my older sister’s McFlurry-induced gastrointestinal distress during a car trip to our grandparents’ house when we were teenagers. 

The doleful grimaces people make when they’re having poopy feelings have always struck me as funny, but on top of that, my sister had a way of suffering in silence. So after the family had finished our frozen treats from McDonald’s and returned to the road, my sister didn’t wail and bemoan her sad fate, as I would have done. She simply curled up in the back of the minivan, as if awaiting the sweet release of death.

When I realized what was going on back there, the pathos of her self-abnegation combined with her stomachache grimace made me laugh until I couldn’t breathe. 

It’s possible that I have a mean streak.

I wish I had the strength to give up dairy altogether, along with eggs, because then I’d be a vegan. That seems to me the least morally compromised dietary plan. 

But as my older sister discovered in her moments of unintentionally hilarious misery, I have several pronounced moral flaws. And so I’m merely a vegetarian. 

For a while, I tried making my diet fully free of animal products for one day each week. I called it Vegan Vednesday. The goal was to expand the program gradually to the rest of the days, but I never got beyond Wednesday. And eventually I stopped being vegan on that day, too.   

But I do hope to resume the project at some point. After all, it’s never too late to do the right thing. That’s why I keep putting it off. 

My grandparents—the ones we were driving to see when my sister’s digestive system ran afoul of that McFlurry—used to raise a few cows. The animals were ponderous and wary-seeming. All had big, brown, unknowable eyes like Javier Bardem.

I don’t know what became of these bovines once they were sufficiently fattened up. I assume my grandpa sold them off to become ground chuck. I guess they were right to be wary. 

Some of them must have been used to supply the farm-fresh milk that was always in an unlabeled jug in my grandparents’ refrigerator. I know the term “farm-fresh milk” sounds enticing, and so-called “raw milk” (which is not pasteurized, homogenized, or FDA-approved) has become popular among some in the all-natural foods movement. 

But when drinking the stuff, I found the texture too thick and the flavor too grassy (kind of herbal, kind of bitter). Imagine, if you will, the ejaculate of a man who has adopted an all-asparagus diet. Raw milk tastes a lot like that. 

If all dairy tasted the same way, I could have summoned the strength to go vegan a long time ago. 

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