It was years ago, when we were all still living at home. I was sitting on the arm of the couch when I heard the key turning in the lock and she walked in the front door holding a scrunched up brown paper bag. I could see the yellow tendrils of an evil logo creeping out ominously from beneath a fold of the bag.
“Em, you know you’re not meant to eat that,” I said, exasperated.
“But it had lettuce in it!” she replied.
“Not everything that has lettuce in it is good!” I quipped back.
“It had meat too? And other things, like vegetables. It’s healthy.”
“The bread is full of sugar.”
“What?” She glared at me as though I’d just told her she had purple hair and a mouse living in her eyebrows.
I paused and looked at her. Her hair was cut into a bob, soft brown wisps framed her face. Out of all four of us, she was the only one with eyes the colour of a calm late afternoon sky. A cacophony of striking grey and pale, pale blue overtones. If you looked closely the two colours scissored each other around her deep black pupils; opened wide, sourcing information, welcoming it, questioning, wanting.
I was tired. She stood there, demanding an explanation. How could a chicken and salad sandwich be an ok thing to eat, yet a roll with meat and salad from a junk food restaurant be bad?
The world loomed up around her, tricking her, manipulating her, teasing her at every turn. When she goes to buy a tub of yoghurt, and it says NO ADDED PRESERVATIVES, how can you explain that there are probably preservatives in there, yet they haven’t ‘added’ any extra? When it says LOW FAT how can you explain that it’s full of other crap in order to make it taste good sans fat? When it says GLUTEN FREE, who is going to take up the challenge of explaining that if it is food that is naturally gluten free, then it’s probably ok, but if it is gluten free food pretending to be something that has gluten in it, then it will be chock-a-block full of shit in order to make it taste like the gluten-full food it is imitating rather than the fake thing it is!?
It is hard enough for the rest of us to understand this, to process it. Why does the world insist on making it harder for her?