Water skiing and fun, healthy, ethical food

by Rob Tiller

My shoulders are aching from the fun we had yesterday skiing on Falls Lake.   Ken and Carol took us out, along with their friends Ken and Kristen, on their plush and powerful ski boat.  Moving over the water at relatively high speed may be the ideal way to enjoy the outdoors in the middle of a massive heat wave.  I hadn’t water skied since I was twelve or so, but had vivid memories — the smell of gasoline, the anxiety as the boat worked into position, the sudden roar of the engine, the jerk of the rope, and the thrill of a transformation — water going soft to hard, something on which you can travel upright.

Ken encouraged us to try his wake board, which he said was easier than skis.  I decided to give it a shot, based on my rule of thumb to always accept an offer to try something new if it looks like it could be fun and isn’t illegal, immoral, or seriously dangerous.  Of five tries, I crashed and burned in the first three, came close to getting up on four, and bombed again on number five.  At that point, I decided to revert to skis.  I hated to admit defeat with the wake board, but it was unclear whether I was on the verge of success or still far from it, and I did not feel good claiming any bigger share of boat time.

Happily, I could still manage to ski.  The attempt was a learning experience:  I learned that for me it isn’t easier than skis, and that to get securely out of the water I need to do something different from what I was doing.  Later, while Carol drove, Ken demonstrated a hydrofoil device, a board with a seat above and a metal extension below so that the board came two or three feet above the water.  It looked both bizarre and fun, but Carol said it took many tries to get the hang of it.

Sally and I got back to the apartment shortly before eight and discovered we had a yen for Thai food within walking distance, so we had dinner at Thai Phoon on Glenwood.  We ordered two different spicy garlic tofu dishes from a good array of vegetarian options.  Just as we were starting to wonder why the food hadn’t arrived, our server showed up to apologize for the delay.  To make up for it, she said the soup was on her.  A nice gesture.

We continued our discussion of the mystery of unhealthy eating and resistance to vegetarianism.  Why do so many people put so much of so many things in their bodies that make them fat and shorten their lives?  Could it be lack of knowledge, when good information is so readily available?   Most of us would never consider fueling our cars with anything other than standard quality gasoline, so how can we stand to put any old thing in our irreplaceable bodies?  It can’t be explained based simply on calculated pleasure-seeking, since there are so many wonderful and interesting plant-based foods.

And how can so many thoughtful, decent, well-meaning people tolerate the massive cruelty of industrialized slaughter houses that turn living animals into dead meat?  Surely most of us respect the integrity of individual members of other animal species and would never consider intentionally torturing them.  So how can we stand the cruelty?   I do not know.  But I know each individual is capable of change for the better, because of my own journey.  There’s still hope for a healthier, more ethical society.  If it comes, it will be through many small, thoughtful, individual choices.  Like spicy garlic tofu.