Updated: Jan 3, 2019
I am not in the habit of judging people. Although some of my friends swear by the many joys and pleasures of questioning other people's choices, status, and upbringing, it's not my cup of tea.
But I do get judged a lot.
One time we felt like having some vegetarian food so we went to this place in the Upper West Side that serves authentic Buddhist fare. It was quite intimidating even from the outside as the place had maximum Zen. Super minimalist. The interior, chairs and tables were all white and there weren't a lot of decorations on display or hanging on walls. It looked like a place that served nirvana on a skillet.
"We better know what we're doing," I said to Sheryl as we prepared to enter. "Just order the tofu and fake chicken and we'll be fine," she said.
So we entered.
But as soon as we got in and closed the door behind us, the receptionist came over and greeted us with her all-knowing Buddha smile. Very discreet like Mona Lisa's on downers. She wore a white flowing linen robe and a fresh daisies pinned on her hair. And then she said:
"I am very sorry but we don't serve meat here."
We looked at her in disbelief. How did she know that we weren't vegetarians? We don't wear our love for burgers on our sleeves, do we? Was I wearing my Peter Lugger custom shirt?
We thought there must have been something in us that reeked of animal blood. Our auras must have been tainted by the slaughtered souls of beasts that we've ingested and digested since we we learned how to gnaw muscles, tendons, and innards. We must have exuded really bad karma for her to make that assumption. And It wasn't our waistline either. After all, wasn't the Buddha in XXL territory as well?
So we were judged, profiled, and deemed unfit to receive the peace that the restaurant offered. We were people not worthy to partake in the blissful banquet reserved only for the enlightened.
Good thing there was a Gray's Papaya right next door.
Another time, we went to a restaurant in Chinatown that is well-known for their Hong Kong style BBQ items. You know, the magnificent stuff: roast duck, roast goose, roast chicken, roast pig, pork ribs, soy sauce chicken, liver, intestines, squid and more.
After waiting in line for an hour, we finally got a table and were seated.
As we giddily scanned the glorious menu with glossy pictures of caramelized fat and crispy pork skins, a waiter came over with his Bic pen and little notebook. He looked at me intently for a good 20 seconds and then all of a sudden shook his head vigorously.
"Why don't you try our vegetables?" He said.