My “little” sister is named Kathleen. She is not actually younger than me, she’s 5 years older as a matter of fact. Our father used to refer to her as my “little” sister as a way of differentiating her from my other older sister Carrie. It was also his sly way of implying that she acts like a brat. He was correct. Kathleen has been a vegetarian since her early 20s and then became a full blown vegan sometime in her 30s (i believe). Always the animal rights activist, she has been a longtime supporter of PETA, which is the acronym for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA was having their 35th anniversary gala here in Los Angeles so she got tickets to the event and said she would bring me as her hostage/guest. She decided she would stay at my apartment for a few days after the gala so that we could do some sight seeing here in sunny SoCal! Sounds fun right?
To say Kathleen is Type A would be an insult to the rigid, impatient, dictatorial Type A’s of the world. She is truly in a league of her own. As any proper host would do, I did some light housecleaning around the apartment to prepare for her stay. Knowing that she would bitch and moan about the place regardless, I didn’t exactly knock myself out. What’s the point, right? I had hastily agreed to be a “four day vegan” while she was in town. I was already regretting the decision as I was beginning to miss my beloved Quarter Pounder with Cheese from Burger King before my temporary meat hiatus had even begun. As she was about to board her plane I get a text from her asking “What color is the hillbilly truck that you’re picking me up from at the airport?” She hadn’t even set foot in Cali yet, but the insults were already flying! “The truck is tan. What color is the broom you’ll be flying in on?” was my snappy retort.
After picking her up at the airport, she immediately began a rant about the truck. “How many miles to the gallon does THIS get? Two or three?” While I am the first to admit that my truck is a gas guzzler, it is not that bad . I tried to change the subject to the upcoming escapades of the trip. “Won’t it be fun to see Paul McCartney sing at the PETA gala?,” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Sir Paul was a trailblazer by being one of the very few celebs at the time who were vegetarians and he was being honored this year by PETA for doing so.
When we arrived back at my apartment, the barrage of criticisms began:
“There’s too much clutter in here, do you really need this much furniture?”
“You have stuff on the bed. How do you sleep on a bed with STUFF on it!!??”
“There’s mold and filth EVERYWHERE!!” she gasped in horror when entering my bathroom. “I refuse to even set foot on that bath mat. We need to get all new bath stuff tomorrow after you clean EVERYTHING right now.”
“I felt safer in Africa among the Ebola than I do in my brother’s bathroom” was one of her Facebook posts during her stay with me. Such is the capacity for her loveliness.
Though I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian, I was looking forward to attending the event nonetheless. It was a black tie event and for one of the first times since my High School Senior Prom, I was going to be wearing a tuxedo. It was midnight blue and if I dare say, made me look James Bond-esque. We took a bunch of pictures before leaving. Even this was a battle.
“You only need to take ONE picture. You don’t need to take 10 for God sake!” she snarled.
Clearly she has never spent much time around Millenials. You can never have too many photos nor spend enough time art directing each one of them. Like Clint Eastwood, Kathleen believed in one take only!
When we arrived at the gala in Hollywood, it was as star studded as I had hoped it would be. We stood adjacent to the red carpet to see a number of animal loving celebs arriving such as Pamela Andersen (who co-hosted) along with Alicia Silverstone, Anjelica Huston, Seth Green, William H. Macy, Fred Willard, James Cromwell and Kesha. Though Pam is no longer quite the Baywatch beauty of the 90’s, she still retains some of her enviable assets. And by that I mean her rack! I can only assume no animals are harmed in the production of breast implants. I merrily posed for a pic alongside a guy dressed like a cow holding a sign that said “Animals are not ours to experiment on.”
PETA really knows how to put on a show. There was a stunning assortment of items up for silent auction from companies whose products are made without animal products. After dining on a lavish buffet (which was completely meatless natch!) a number of celebs were given awards for their commitment to pro-animal activism. Most eye-opening for me was the number of celebs who I had’t been aware were such ardent supporters of animal rights, such as Maggie Q, Mike White, George Lopez, and Jason Biggs (who gave a hilarious monologue that ripped Sea World apart for their Orca killer whale shows).
The festivities weren’t all glitter and laughs though. Some video footage of animal mistreatment around the world was shown. I winced in horror at the sight of chickens piled one atop each other in overcrowded coops. The sight of foxes being removed of their fur was truly spine chilling.
After the awards, Sir Paul gave an amazing concert that lasted an hour and a half. In addition to some new material, he sang most of the hits he is known for. I gotta hand it to the guy. At 73 years old, he was still jumping around the stage like a guy in his 20s! Maybe there’s something to be said for going meatless. Most of the crowd swayed in unison while he belted out “Hey Jude.”
On the drive home my sister asked the question that I knew was inevitable. “Are you going to become a vegetarian now?”
“You know, I think I could really consider doing it” I said, half-heartedly. As much as I would love to embrace a life of tofu, vegetables and faux-hamburgers, I know myself too well. Passing by the IN-N-Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard I could practically hear the Double Doubles with cheese calling my name.
“We love you Greg. And we miss you already,” the burgers called out to me. Perhaps I would baby-step my way into the whole vegetarian thing for the time being.