abominate (uh-BOM-in-ate), verb

When you abominate something, you really, really hate and dislike it – and view it with considerable loathing.

“Miss? Will you come over here and talk about Greenpeace?” a gaucky young man asks me as I walk out of the grocery store with a 3/4 pound rib-eye steak wrapped in butcher paper. No bag please. I was on my way to my parents’ house to cook a father’s day dinner of barbecued steak topped with crumbled blue cheese, grilled onions and sautéed mushrooms along with a pear and candied walnut salad tossed in a homemade spiced balsamic dressing.

As I reach my car, I blankly stare at the young man, probably younger than me, or 24, just like me, and I think about those words: Greenpeace. Green. Peace. He looks at me like I’m crazy because I haven’t answered his question, but am still staring at him. He reminds me of an ex-boyfriend from college.

“What overused words,” my literary brain thinks as I settle into the driver seat of the 2000 Subaru Outback Limited I bought almost a year ago and am still completely jubilant with my decision. My Subaru is green. Not the same meaning, I suppose. I laugh at the thought of telling that to this boyish Greenpeace advocate to see if he gets the irony. And by irony I mean my bad joke.

He is still looking at me through my windshield. His head slightly cocked like a dog wondering why I won’t come out and play. Instead I am just sitting there, laughing at myself in my green car. A car that is not so green. His charming smile and tight jeans loosely hang on his skinny body. He looks like my ex. I look away. Though my memory well has already filled to the brim and my brain quickly overflows with memories of what could have been a wonderfully hippy life. Then I look at the seat next to me, at the 3/4 pound ribeye steak and my eyes fill with tears. When did I become so emotional? Now that I am twenty-four, almost twenty-five, I cry about everything.

I bought this single steak for my not single life. My boyfriend, who agreed to join my parents and I for father’s day dinner, has been charming my life for the last two years. A drastic change in, well, everything since my last attempt at dating in college. A sad irony that the single steak I had bought for him to accompany a family dinner lead me to see Mr. Greenpeace and a thousand memories flood back to me and my ex still has me sitting in my car alone crying.

He’s still looking at me, Mr. Greenpeace, undoubtedly baffled at the philosophical anomaly of women. Within a thirty second span, he watched me laugh at my own joke, which I still think is quiet clever. Then how quickly I turned to tears and not a thousand more pages could explain how a woman’s brain jumps from one thing to the next, accompanied by corresponding emotions flying behind each thought like a flung cat clutching the end of a speeding witch’s broom.

I am indeed a crazy loony-bird and not a moon maiden, as my zodiac book explains about the nature of a Cancarian girl. I look up again and my ex-Greenpeace advocate is still looking at me. His puppy head has moved from to one side to the other, transforming to disgust at what he has just witnessed. I pull it together just enough to turn my emotional fluster back on him. Back to the essence of his job. Greenpeace. My mind returns to that word, Green. I laugh again at my previous joke, which obviously I still think is funny. Damn it! He caught me full circle. Laughing, crying, laughing. And I’m still in the goddamn parking lot.

I start up my green car and wonder when it was exactly that a word so common became used too much? It has been violently thrown into too many diverging contexts and has completely lost its meaning. Too many uses equals no meaning, and I abominate the fact that so much nothingness makes my mind spin like this.

I drive away angrily thinking that nothing is green the way we mean it. Trees, yes, my car yes, (only in one sense of the word) but our lives are not “green.” I compost and recycle. I try to leave less of a footprint than I could, but I still drive to work in the harsh winter months, and I am sitting here with the lights on, typing on my fancy MacBook Pro that took lord knows how much energy to create. I am not sure if Green is supposed to mean leaving no carbon footprint or to just be conscience about what footprint you are leaving. Is it better to be aware of the harm you create than totally oblivious? Or does it matter? Either way you are leaving a footprint.

No, I decide, it is better to be aware than to be totally naive to your actions. My neighbors, for example, put out one blue recycling bag along with one full can of garbage every single week. The fact that they bother to use a blue recycling bag announces that they are wary of the good they are doing by recycling, but that’s not what I think when I see that bulging bag of bottles and cans in their driveway every Friday morning. I hardly commend them for recycling when all I can think of is how can two people create so much waste every single week? What in the world are they doing in that lovely single story house? Buy less. Drink less. Waste less.

So what about Peace? The meaning of which belongs to times of heroic defeat, where tyranny is overcome by the underdog and the whole country is freed by the hero from one common enemy. Now we live in a time with many enemies, close and far away, and how can we tell the difference? Friendly faces should not be trusted and ugly faces should definitely not be trusted? So we are left with cynicism and suspicion. Every neighbor could be an enemy and every stranger is out of the question. Yes, Peace too seems to have changed its meaning.

Less passively: We have changed the meaning of Peace. Just as we have changed the meaning of Green. The ongoing evolution of language is unstoppable and just as hard for me to swallow.

I sat in my idling car still staring at this young man who, in style and speech brought be quickly to a place I had long ago forgotten. My thoughts circled like a trick motorcyclists at a carnival drumming illogical circles around and around my skull. He would have thought the same things – my ex, not the motorcyclist – about the words Green and Peace. How they no longer belong together in the way they once did.

He would laugh at how cooperations try so hard to fix the world using uncountable resources to make their point. Like in July of 2009, when dozens of Greenpeace members were arrested at Mount Rushmore for hanging a 65 x 35 square foot banner across the monument that read: “America honors leaders not politicians: stop global warming.” How much industrial energy it took to make that banner? A banner that took park crews a mere hour to pull down? What an ironical use of energy. Nice work, Greenpeace.


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