Once upon a time, I was a financial aid counselor at a rip-off technical school. A student came in one day to meet with me so I could “repackage” him for the upcoming school year–in this case, I probably walked him through a loan process with a lender that offered him a 25% interest rate. He didn’t care, much like most other people that attended classes there. They just needed to know where to sign and would sign almost anything, as long as it meant they could continue to go to class.

(I found the proprietary market in higher education to be highly unethical, which is why I left after two years.)

On this day, a man named Victor (with a very German-sounding last name) was sitting in front of me, waiting to sign away any hopes of a stable financial future post-graduation. Victor was short in stature, but by no means scrawny. He was lean. He looked as though he could have been a roofer, a landscaper or perhaps a factory laborer. He always wore a lived-in but not dirty white t-shirt and blue jeans. His hair was slighly slicked back–every so often a stray gray strand would sweep across his forehead. For a simply dressed, mild-mannered blue-collar guy, a stray hair was about as unkempt as he ever looked. He simply looked like a body that had been lived in–a low-maintenance man with a delicate yet deliberate intention to appear respectfully scrubbed-for-dinner clean.

I ran through my typical rush-through-it routine of getting his repackaging done so I could check him off my list and move on to the next victim in the school’s quest to financially ruin their students for life. I was the evil henchman, the wing man, the messenger, the girl trying to make a name for herself in a career that she had no business being a part of.

Victor, who had been quiet the entire time, addressed me.

“You need to eat some meat.”

This off-the-wall comment gave me pause. I turned and looked Victor in the eye. He had been sizing me up, literally.

“I do, do I?”

Victor replied back with his deep, hollow, smoker’s voice, a combination of Eeyore’s speech speed and a voice box that had been coated in gravel and slow-roasted over an open fire for hours; both rough and smooth, all in the same breath,

“Yes. And none of that lean stuff. Heavily. Marbled. Meats. I come from a long line of butchers, so I know what I’m talking about.”

What do you really say to that? Anything would have sufficed, absolutely anything.

“I’m a vegetarian.”

Victor’s demeanor never wavered.

“Heavily. Marbled. Meats.”



Fast forward four years, and here I am, remembering Victor’s suggestion to me that I start myself on a diet of steaks streaked with oily rubberbands of fat. Something made me think of him, and I Googled his name to see what had become of him. As far as I can tell, he passed away last summer, but I couldn’t find the cause of death. I can only make assumptions based on the fact that I know he enjoyed fatty meats, but I guess I will never really know how his life came to an end.


On that note, I think I will be sticking to a diet low in red meats for the duration– but everytime I see a marbly slab of animal flesh, I will always be reminded of the only butcher I ever knew, Victor.