“Let me ask you. As a giraffe, how do you feel about food?”
“I am definitely for it.”
“No. I mean…”
“Hey, without food, it’s adios. You know what I’ve never understood, and by ‘I’, I mean ‘we’, and by ‘we’, I mean the entire animal population? Hunger strikes. ‘There is food available, but we’re mad about something, so we’re not going to eat it.’ That concept makes absolutely no sense to us. Animals don’t read, and there’s no television or video games. Other than sleeping and making more animals, the majority of each day is involved in an ‘our life depends on it’ search for sustenance. In the context of our situation, the idea of, ‘There’s food right in front of us, but we’re not going to eat it’? seems – respectfully – nuts.”
“You not getting my drift here. I’m not talking about food in terms of what’s required to remain alive. I’m talking about food as pleasure.”
“It’s a pleasure to remain alive.”
“Point taken. But what about the unimaginable range of choices, the myriad tastes, the exquisite interplay of flavors on your palate…”
“We only eat leaves. They taste like leaves. And since we only eat one thing, the ‘interplay of flavors’ thing is, understandably, not exactly on our radar screens.”
“Giraffes feel no inclination to experiment gustatorially?”
“No, if that means are we interested in trying different foods, and I think it does, following the gist of this conversation.”
“But you’re missing out on so much: The preparation, the sauces, the tongue-treating ecstasy of exquisite cuisine from around the world, prepared by celebrated chefs, gifted with that distinguishing mélange of training, touch, boldness and imagination.”
“Yeah, giraffes don’t care about any of that. For giraffes, the best thing about food: You find some. That’s ‘Number One.’ ‘Oh, good, there’s food, we can live until tomorrow.’ That’s a tremendous load off our minds. I know I’m belaboring this point, but it’s the essential thing, and can really not be overstated. Who knows? If that religion that says we come back as other things is correct, then, some day, you might come back as a giraffe, and knowing what I just told you, you’ll be ahead of the game. That’s interesting., ‘Ahead of the game’ in this context, is kind of a play on words. But it’s also terrific advice.
“The new giraffes, they’re sometimes complacent. You go, ‘Hey, Larry, let’s look for some leaves.’ They go, ‘Later. I just figured out how to bend my knees, so I can lie down.’ You go out later – foraging, as we call it, because there was this baby chimp once who couldn‘t pronounce ‘forest’ properly and everyone thought it was cute – anyway, you go out foraging, and there’s no leaves – because other giraffes got their first, or because it’s a bad year for leaves. Then you’re in trouble.
“You may have learned to bend your knees, but all that means is you won’t have to die standing up. Which – and I’m sure you’ll agree – comes a far ‘Second’ to not dying at all.”
“That’s a trans-species ‘no brainer.’ From a giraffe’s perspective – and I cannot stress this too strongly, I have seen this on bumper stickers and printed on t-shirts, that’s how important it is – 'Leaves ‘R Life.'
“And now you know that. So, should the happenstance occur that you come back as a giraffe – and, believe me, there are worse things to come back as, not mentioning any names, because it hurts their feelings – you’ve gotten a very helpful ‘Heads up!’”
“I take it then that giraffes have no innate concept of ‘fine dining.’”
“Here, in a nutshell is what giraffes think about food: You eat it, the nutrients go places to help parts of your body, and you poop the rest out. That’s all there is. Gourmet, shmourmet, we could not care less. And it’s not only the Long of Neck who feel that way, it’s all animals. Ask a lion, ‘How would you like your antelope?’, they’ll say, ‘Slow. They’re easier to catch.’ Ask a hippopotamus if he’d care to try rabbit, he’d go, ‘Why?’ Ask a fish if they ever get tired of worms, they’d nail you with their patented ‘fish eye’, and say, ‘That’s what we eat. That, and smaller fish, though, hopefully, they have recently eaten a worm. That’s the best. We call that a sandwich.’
“That’s how it is for us with food. We like it when it’s there, because when it’s not there, we’re dead. End of story. As for what others do around food – fetishizing, you might say, if you were in a negative frame of mind – it is best on this matter, as is our habit as giraffes, to remain silent. We are a lower species of animal. Having invented neither the Internet nor watermelon without seeds, it is not our place to disparage our genetic superiors. We just don’t get the whole ‘food thing.’ And we’ll leave it at that.
“Of course what do you expect from people who think a hunger strike makes any sense whatsoever. As our Jewish animal friends would say, you’d have to be meshugah. (As distinguished from the improper meshugeneh – which is the noun version of the word, rather than the – appropriate – adjectival.)”
“Well, thank you for your time. And in return, may I treat you to lunch at one of our most honored gourmet restaurants?”
“Do they serve leaves?”
“They can do you an exquisite endive salad with a raspberry vinaigrette.”
“It’s a delicious dressing that they drizzle over your ‘leaves.’”
“I like my leaves plain.”
“No problem. Maybe a tiny wedge of lemon.”
“Just leaves, okay!’