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One of These Things Is Not Like the Other....


Labor Day weekend is the last weekend of summer here. School usually starts the Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day, so it's kind of the last hurrah of schedule free summer days. We didn't have too terribly much planned for the weekend this year, though, apart from visiting Tim's folks in Lancaster. We were supposed to go Saturday, but Daniel got a fever so we stayed home instead.

We got a last minute invitation to go to the birthday party of the son of our neighbors across the street who was turning one, so Emily and I went over, being neighborly and all that. We kind of snuck out while Daniel was playing Mario Kart with our 9 year old neighbor so that he wouldn't catch on to what was happening. I didn't want a scene. So we snuck across the street like fugitives darting across the Switzerland border in a bad WWII movie. (Don't you love similies?)

I'm fairly moderate in things in my life. You can call that lukewarm or balanced, I guess, depending on your take on things. Am I Republican or Democrat? I don't know...I kind of like both in different ways. I'm kind of a middle-of-the road Christian, too: I believe there is absolute Truth revealed in the Bible, but I also believe that there is a lot of wiggle room on how people can live out their Christian lives. I have friends who believe that living a Christian life means wearing dresses if you're a girl and homeschooling and voting staunch Republican, and I have other friends who think it's fine to have a female pastor and be feminist and drink the occasional beer. I try not to be in the same place these people at the same time: it could get ugly. All I know is that they all believe that they are sinners in need of grace from a forgiving God, and that grace is in the form of Jesus. Everything else is disputable gravy, as far as I'm concerned.

This party, however, threw all feelings of being moderate out the window.

It quickly became apparent when Emily and I arrived that we weren't like the other people there. I knew I was one of the Others to this group of people, committing one of the worst sins imaginable to them. Did it have to do with race? Religion? Politics? No, none of these things.

I was a Meat Eater.

I knew that Bettiel and her family were vegetarians. And I knew that my other neighbor who went was a vegetarian. I didn't know EVERYONE there was going to be a vegetarian. I was fascinated by them. They were all so happy to be around others of their Kind, fellow plant muching animal loving people. They exchanged notes on recipes and how to make your kids want to be vegetarian too. (The answer is to just play on their natural love of animals.) I sat in silence most of the time, watching. The Sesame Street song kept going through my head: "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not the same...."

But my favorite people there, hands down, was this family from Northeast Philly. I knew they were different the minute I met them. They had three children who came bouncing in with chubby cheeks and long, bouncy curls. Their names were Oddyssey, Meridian, and Devo, and I naturally assumed they were girls. The oldest was only 4, so they had that kind of androgenous baby face that could go either way, and with those curls and their names, I just assumed. But, no, they were all boys. Then I learned the mother's name: Arcadia. So I looked at them with their long hair and strange names, and it hit me. I was meeting Hippies! True blue actual hippies of the 21st century! I was immediately fascinated, and I tried to find out all I could about them.

They were perfect. Apart from their names and hair, they weren't content to be simply vegetarian: they were vegan. They almost flipped out when Devo put some cheese in his mouth. I thought he was lactose intolerant or something because of the ferocity of their reaction, but then I realized that no, they were just REALLY vegan.

They also drove the next best thing to a VW bus. I knew it was theirs because the licence plate said VEGANS. But even if it hadn't, I would have known it was theirs. In my mind it had a flashing neon sign over it that said "Hippie Van!" It was brown and kind of shabby in the typically cool-hippy way, like they were conceding to the need to get around but were not that happy about having to buy into America's consumer culture. Lilke a VW bus. I really wanted to get a picture of it for the blog, but I was afraid they'd catch me. They also said that their children had never watched TV or a movie. And that "never" wasn't hyperbole. They meant "never."

I asked Arcadia where they had met my neighbors, and she told me that they had met at a Ron Paul rally. I thought, of COURSE you did! It was absolutely, beautifully perfect. If the hippies had a candidate, Ron Paul would be it. What was even better was that they had gone to this rally on July 12. July 12 - way after there was any hope at all that Ron Paul would become any sort of candidate. This was a rally for the die hards. And the rally was in DC. They had gone out of their way, driven 2 1/2 hours with three kids in a run down hippy van, to attend this Ron Paul rally. Oh, I about died of bliss. She said that they had become instant friends when they met there, because it's not often that they meet people they have so much in common with. No, I though, I bet they don't.

The effect of all this, though, was that I felt like the most buttoned-up conservative in history compared to all these people. I felt like I might as well jump on the Newt Gingrich fan club bus or something, because there was no way I could compete with vegan Ron Paul supporters who drove a hippy van and had names like that.

The only downer in the whole scenario was the husband's name: Keith. Apparently he wasn't born into hippidom, he'd married into it. I couldn't help feeling he needed to change his name. It reminded me of the movie "Hoodwinked" when the evil bunny is telling his henchmen what to do. Things like, "Gunther, get the dynamite," or whatever. They all have really good henchmen names until he gets to the last one and says, "And Keith...go change your name. It's not scary and it embarrasses me to say it! 'Oh, KEITH, I'm so scared. Oooo.'" It's really funny. I tried to share this with Arcadia, about the movie, but she didn't have any idea what I was talking about since, of course, they don't watch movies. She did understand my point, though, and said that she always felt like she had barely started saying Keith's name before it was done. Like it needed extra syllables.

But, I absolutely loved this family. They were so perfect I couldn't have made them up. If I had made them up they would have seemed like too much of a stereotype. I feel like I need to put them in a book or something. I ended up going home hungry (since I was afraid that if I took any of the food I wouldn't like it and would be forced to eat it all so I wouldn't look rude. I played it safe and said I had already eaten.) But it was all worth it just to meet Arcadia, Oddyssey, Meridian, and Devo. Oh...and Keith.

Oh, we did end up going to TIm's folks on Sunday after church. I had some pictures taken, just so that I could have an excuse to write about the weekend with the vegans. So, here they are.

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Tim's dad explaining to Emily about the cateterization he had in his heart.
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