Off of the Grill and Into the Mouth: Refusal of the Call

One of my favorite actors of recent years is the hunky, genre-hopping Ryan Gosling. In September 2011, Gosling strapped into the category of car movies with Drive. He played a Hollywood stuntman turned getaway driver who gets involved in a job gone awry.


The film has some of the craziest driving scenes having used real, practical stunts throughout. But, in spite of the action scenes, the best part of the movie focuses around Ryan Gosling’s character.  His journey and the human interactions subvert the car/crime genre. You think you’re just going in for one thing, but you come out having experienced something completely different but equally enjoyable.


The third step in the Hero’s Journey is the “Refusal of the Call” which explores the hero’s initial fears in stepping out of the Ordinary World. Luke Skywalker showed his blatant refusal of the call by Obi-Wan in A New Hope when he said, “Listen, I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like the Empire, I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.” The comfort and conformity of his life still outweighed his conflict with his present situation.


I think I covered enough in my last two posts, A Call to Adventure and Hungry Hungry Hypocrite, why I’d refused previously and what’s brought me to my current acceptance of this journey.

So, akin to Drive, I’d like to subvert the conventional exploration of the Refusal of the Call in favor of exploring my recent refusal of the temptation from a weekend cookout and picnic, hence the titular allusion to the Hobbit chapter “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

As kids living out in the country and taking a bus to and from school everyday, we had to keep ourselves occupied. So we play stupid games and create silly fantasies of the future or dramatic, impossible scenarios. One common scenario was to be stuck on a desert island. What would you bring? Who would you bring? What would you…eat?

For me, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only eat one food for the rest of my life, without hesitation, I choose the hamburger, that master of disguise, the medium-rare chunk of beef resting between two golden brown hand-warmers. When it comes to other toppings, a smörgåsbord of possibilities arise. Must I choose? Nay, I say! I figured that was my clever loophole. I’ll conjure up a classic burger,  BB-Q burger, bacon cheeseburger, triple bacon cheeseburger, etc. At the risk of turning this blog post into a menu of the best burger combinations I’ve ever devoured or wished to devour, I’d better continue on. All in all, yea, I like burgers.

Obviously then, it came as quite a shock to my system when my wife so graciously reminded me that we had planned a picnic this last weekend to grill hamburgers with our parents. Basically, the scenario goes like this:

I’m two days into juicing, and on the third day, I have to cook twelve hamburgers on my grill, season the patties, heat up the grill, hear the sizzle of the meat as it first hits the searing metal rack, consume the aroma of the smoke as the meat began to cook, and close the hatch.

Phew. A sigh of relief. I can go inside and prepare my juice. I’m getting use to it, gathering all my ingredients on the table and placing them next to my juicer. I grab the carrots, celery, tomato, apple, cucumber, lemon, and mix of spinach and kale. Crap. At that time, I realize I’ve gotta check the burgers again.

I open the patio door as the wind blows the grill smoke right into my face. My whole body is covered by a wave of essence of hamburger. It’s intoxicating. My knees weaken as I stand above the grill. My hand opens the hatch again, revealing all that aroma trapped inside with the patties cooking. They are in need of a flip. As each burger flips to reveal those long-coveted grill lines across them, I image what it will be like to sink my teeth into one, two , probably three of those tasty burgers by day’s end. I shut the hatch again. As it hides the burgers from my vision, it also reveals the truth.

I can’t have any burgers? I can’t have any burgers. The question looms over my head as I enter back into the house and continue prepping my juice. The statement settles in as I cut my apple, peel my lemon, and collect the rest of the veggies. I’m juicing. I can’t just stop juicing. I’m blogging this because I want to stay accountable for juicing. So, I can not have a burger.

I decide to block out my thoughts by turning on the juicer. The whirl of the bladed, spinning sieve cut up my hopes for a hamburger as it created juice. When the juicer finished it’s liquefaction process, I remembered to check the burgers again. And, this time, they needed cheese.

I’ve always been raised to put the piece of cheese on the hamburger during the last couple minutes of the cooking time. This let the cheese melt and, most importantly, mold itself to the hamburger as the two, cheese + hamburger, became one entity, a cheeseburger. After receiving the head count of people who wanted cheese, I set out to flip the patties again, check that they had the right hue of pink in the middle, and ever-so-lovingly place a square piece of cheese on that round, raised hamburger. The grill smoke battered me again with it’s fragrant fumes. I quickly closed the hatch, knowing I’d soon be unable to resist it’s abusive beck and call.

Because the patties were almost ready, I could not go find relief by my juice. I was handed platters on which to serve the patties. So, for one last time, I had to open the hatch. I saw the hamburgers. I saw the cheeseburgers. My eyes saw only them. The hamburgers and cheeseburgers were all that my eyes beheld. Beefy beauty. But their journey was not complete. Nor was my temptation.

I handed off the cooked patties and turned off the grill. I walked back into the house. I headed towards my juice. I poured my juice into a glass with ice. I placed the glass in the fridge to keep cool as I rinsed all of the juicer parts. I took back my lunch from the refrigerator and sat among my family.

As I stared across the dining room, I saw that no longer was I in the presence of cooked hamburger meat. Instead, I sat surrounded by hand-crafted hamburger sandwiches, complete with sesame seed buns and a variety of toppings from which to choose. Hands clenched the buns and lifted the sandwiches to their mouths, as teeth bit and mouths chewed. My hands grabbed my glass and brought my straw to my lips, as my mouth sucked up the juice. But my eyes stayed glued to the dwindling sandwiches around the room.

Somehow, some way by the grace of God, I made it through lunch. I made it through a line of questioning from family members who could clearly conclude that the salivating look on my face came not from the juice. I made it through the burgers and the chips and the delicious wife’s-specialty, the pickle dip.

Then, my wife release the last comestible hurdle from the confines of our icebox, the desserts, my grandma’s illustrious pumpkin torte and my wife’s simple, yet satisfying chocolate pudding pie.  It’s like turning your back on a best friend and stabbing that back with a carrot, a stalk of celery, a cucumber, a tomato, an apple, and a lemon. It just doesn’t make sense.

And yet, looking back, I may be able to find some positivity in all this. Because of this juice fast, I gave my father the remaining pumpkin torte after the day’s events. The last time my wife made the pumpkin torte, it was all for me. And I ate it all. Over the course of a week, I mean, I’m not an animal. Because of this juice fast, I would provide him with a similar opportunity. I choose to look at it through a humanitarian lens.

By the end of the day, I realized that if I could survive all of that on my third day of juicing, I could withstand any temptations. Maybe, just maybe, I can even subvert my carnivorous tendencies and befriend the juice life I’ve thrust myself upon.

(Only five days left from this posting in my first ten-day juice fast)



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