R. C. Curtis
When I first became vegetarian in the late 1970’s, I didn’t play it up, and I certainly didn’t exclude omnivore’s from my sphere of possible romantic partners. I mean, it was hard enough for me to make a connection with any reasonably attractive, sane, woman. I was happy just to find someone who didn’t openly disdain my dietary choice, who didn’t view me as a sissy for preferring a salad to a steak. Oh, I did seek women who were arty or into The Talking Heads or Devo. But finding a vegetarian was not a priority.
I hid my vegetarianism under a bushel, allowing it to shine only when I was confronted by family, friends and others who questioned my decision. Time and again I’d get the same questions thrown at me. Number one, of course, “Where do you get your protein?” — yes, back then, even when I was eating eggs and dairy! And, “But don’t plants feel pain too? Aren’t you a hypocrite?” And, “Do you care more about animals then you do about human beings?” And, “Weren’t animals put on Earth for us to eat?”
On the rare occasion when I’d actually date a woman, I’d usually take pains to assure her that this was my thing, that I wasn’t asking her to change but to merely accept my vegetarianism. Secretly, however, I was hoping that by example, I’d lead her to become vegetarian herself. It never really worked out that way.
And so it went for a number of years. But throughout those years my resolve strengthened, I became more confident in the compassionate choice I’d made, more proud of being a vegetarian. Then, at the ripe old age of 35, I finally went vegan. By the way, just so you know, I did manage to get lucky a handful of times in the intervening years. I don’t want you to think I was a complete loser.
As a vegan I knew I could not equivocate in my search for a romantic partner – okay, I did equivocate a couple of times, but what I desired ultimately was to find a vegan woman. A sexy, intelligent, lively, sweet vegan woman who laughed at all my jokes, loved the films of Hitchcock, Scorcese and Lynch, and was also into Elvis Costello, The Talking Heads and Devo. Was that too much to ask for?
Four years later I did find someone. And she was sexy, intelligent and lively. She laughed at some of my jokes, groaned and shook her head at others. She didn’t have a passion for the same music and movies that I did, but she did have passion. The best part, however, was that I convinced her to go vegan! She said she was already on the way . . . but it was me, I did the trick. I made it happen. I created a vegan woman!
The relationship lasted five-years. A tumultuous five years. Five years of passion, five years of pain. Five years of telling myself that she was vegan and the sex was great! And five years of denying that that’s not all it takes. At the end of those five years, at the end of that rocky relationship when a period of reflection, a time of cooling off was called for, there was only one thing for me to do . . . jump back into the fire! I needed another vegan woman to take away the sting. So I turned to the internet, to Veggiedate.org.
I contacted a number of local women, most of whom chose not to respond. One contact did lead to a date but none to follow. Then I decided to expand my search. If I, a 45 year-old vegan, were to find the vegan woman of my dreams – or a close approximation – then I had to be willing to look far and wide. And that’s when I found Kendra’s ad.
She was five years younger than I, on the cusp of 40, and what she said about herself and about the kind of man she was seeking jibed with my own ad in a way that could only be kismet. And it didn’t hurt that she looked cute in her picture. I’d found her!
The only drawback was that she lived about 2700 miles away in Philadelphia. But I wrote to her and she wrote back that day. I learned that she’d grown up in Arizona, had been divorced for two years, worked as a chemist at an environmental consulting firm, had been vegetarian for twelve-years and vegan for one. But most importantly, I found out that she was more than willing to relocate for “Mr. Right!”
After about a month of e-mail correspondence and telephone conversations, we both learned a lot more about each other and felt a strong connection. But the real test would come with us actually, physically meeting, so I made a reservation to fly to Philadelphia. I learned later that Kendra was cautioned by friends and family against meeting me, a stranger she had just met on the internet. I could be some psychopath for all she knew. Yeah, that’s right. That’s the way we psychopaths operate. We lurk on vegetarian dating sites, meet women on the other side of the country, spend a month baring our souls by e-mail and pay our own way to fly 2700 miles to kill those vegetarian women and cannibalize their bodies. Well, I arrived in Philadelphia and our connection felt even stronger in person. So I decided not to kill her. Our journey had truly begun.
Over the next few months we met a couple more times. Then Kendra’s company decided to transfer someone to their Davis, California, office. Kendra had wanted for some time to move closer to her family in Arizona and now, wanting to move closer to me, she jumped at the chance. And so, in August of 2000, four months after our on-line meeting, I flew back out to Philadelphia to help drive her and her four cats across country to Davis. That was quite an adventure, sneaking the cats into motel rooms along the way, the A/C going out in Utah, and Kendra in the throes of PMS!
I moved up to Davis the following summer. I had found my life partner, someone who loved me for who I was, accepted my flaws and helped me to recognize my strengths. Kendra brought balance to my life, brought organization where there was once chaos, and stability where there was once insecurity. We were married in July of 2001 in the gazebo at the UC Davis Arboretum with only six in attendance: her mother, stepfather and sister; my two sisters and my best friend acting as best man. It was a simple, lovely wedding presided over by a retired Justice of the Peace. We chose to be barefoot as we took our vows. A week later we had a mini honeymoon in South Lake Tahoe. In the fall we had a beautiful reception with family and friends at my sister’s house in Simi Valley, replete with delicious vegan food, even the cake. And a band that played the loveliest rendition of Santana’s Samba Pa Ti. The following spring we had our “real” honeymoon in Paris.
Kendra and I lived up in Davis together for two years. In 2003 we both decided to move back down to Los Angeles. Kendra fell in love with L.A. and felt it was the place she was meant to be. In 2005, with some financial help from Kendra’s parents, we bought a condo at The Village Green, in southwest Los Angeles, a residential community set in 64 acres filled with trees and a large green flanked by two smaller ones. It was like living in a park. We both knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives in this beautiful place, growing old together. Two old, happy vegans, very much in love.