For a good portion of my life I couldn’t figure out why people liked steak.
I had nothing against meat, I liked meat just fine-
but in my parents’ house, in the summer months,
every Sunday evening we had steak for dinner.
We were to consider it a treat, a delicacy,
something to look forward to.
When I saw people eating steaks on television or in movies
it seemed like a good thing, and their eyes lit up when they spoke of it.
But when my father put the plate in front of me
the slab of meat was always gray and joyless.
It tasted like nothing and each leathery piece took an eternity to chew.
Our steaks were like that because that’s
how my mom imagined they were supposed to be.
My dad would bring in the platter from the backyard grill
and present it to my mom for inspection.
They’re not done, my mom would invariably say, look at all that blood!
It’s not blood, my dad would reply, it’s juice.
We can’t eat them like that, take them back and cook them until they’re done!
My dad would say something under his breath and then take the meat away
and bring it back a while later when there was no more juice or blood.
Then we’d all sit there at the table not saying much of anything.
We’d smother the meat in A1 Sauce and chew and chew and chew.
I’d put ketchup on mine, place it between two pieces of wonder bread
and pretend it was a hamburger.
My mother would scold me, she told me I didn’t know
how to appreciate good things.
At some point at a friend’s house, a restaurant, somewhere,
I had a steak in the manner they were meant to be consumed:
it was seared on the outside, but the thick cube of meat
was tender and juicy and red just beneath the surface.
I was startled at first; it was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
It tasted like all the colors of life and death and the blood and juice
dribbled down my chin and onto the plate, and I sopped it up
with a piece of bread and when it was gone I wanted more.
Things in general suddenly made a bit more sense to me,
and I wondered what else I had been missing out on.
It was then that a part of me first began to understand
that so much of life is spent simply recovering
the basic joys that others, through ignorance or malice,
are forever bent on stealing.