mais où sont les viandes d’antan?

—for Michael Wong

A college student was walking past a butcher’s shop. His appetite whetted by the display of thick and juicy, well marbled prime steaks in its window, the hungry scholar entered the shop and inquired about their price. “Ten dollars a pound”, said the elderly butcher. The youth assessed his finances, which barely sufficed to purchase hamburger at one tenth the price, and beat a hasty retreat.

Over the next thirty years, his appetite for fresh meat never abated. He studied and worked hard and traveled far and wide to rise in the world, all so that he could afford to consume the finest viands. And so, upon belatedly returning to his college town on a business trip, he drifted towards the old butcher shop next to the campus. To his surprise, the quaint boutique was no more, supplanted by a high-rise that housed a fashionable supermarket. He approached the meat counter and asked for a thick slab of prime steak. “Sorry”, said the pierced and tattooed metrosexual meat expert, “we only carry organic, grass-fed Angus beef.”

The businessman surveyed dainty pink slices artfully arrayed in the brightly lit cooler. They were nothing like the corn-fed prime cuts glowing in his mind’s eye. He looked around and saw himself surrounded by trim and chatty whippersnappers lining up for healthful foodstuffs under the guidance of their appropriately gendered and similarly aged companions. He recalled his trophy girlfriend barely half his age, delicately nibbling on exotic delicacies that suited her size zero figure. He pondered the time he spent at the gym to stay ahead of her contemporaries nibbling at his heels. And he realized that under the laws of supply and demand, the likes of the prime meat of his youth had long since been shat out into the sewer.

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