A month and a half ago I bought an onion for the purpose of cutting up and putting on a pizza. I never got around to using it and left it on my counter. A week ago I noticed it was growing. Green shoots were coming up out of the top of the bulb. I find this vaguely creepy. All that stuff in the produce section of the supermarket is alive. They are functioning generative units. If I were to go grocery shopping and then die, when they found me, my apartment would be full of plants that grew from the fruits and vegetables I'd bought.
Obviously I can't slice up the onion now. I only eat dead things. If it's made such a strenuous effort to proclaim its life, I must respect that.
When I was nine my mother, my grandmother and I spent a week in Chatham, Massachusetts. We rented a rickety little cabin during the off-season. There were a couple of other kids staying at the same place, whom I hung around with for a couple of days until they decided they hated me, but mostly I played in the sand and went to the beach with my parents.
One night they brought a lobster home from the grocery store. A live lobster. I thought the slimy brown crustacean was adorable and stayed by its box in the kitchen to watch it. I decided it was my pet. I loved the way its long ribbed feelers would wiggle and lash around as it scraped around its miniscule environs. I adored its bulbous black eyes. But then it was time for my mother to cook it. I began to cry, and begged her not to boil it. How could she kill it? It was helpless. But it was meant to be dinner, so she did it. After a while I stopped crying. I hadn't had much time to grow attached to my new pet.
When it came out of the pot it was bright red. I couldn't believe it was the same lobster. It had been transformed into a pristine idealized food item, an icon. I went without dinner, because I wouldn't eat any of the lobster and wouldn't watch Mom or Grandma eat it.
The lobsters in the grocery store all have rubber bands on their claws. Most people think this is to keep them from nipping your fingers. That's only half-true. The main reason their claws are tied is that if they weren't, the lobsters would eat each other. An unrestrained male lobster will go through the entire tank, crushing the shells of all the helpless males, and when it has finished it will leisurely devour its siblings. They are only so much meat, after all.