After a brief argument with Daily Banter Czarist Dictator Ben Cohen about whether mileage should be reimbursed in fast food coupons or “Buy Ya Lunch Sometime”, I found myself in the suburbs of Northern Virginia (NoVA) to meet with a man who would only call himself “Blue”.
"This Blue fella, conspiracy nut, but says he's got something big!" Mr. Cohen, as he prefers for me to address him, said to me over the phone as I verified the address he texted me. "Could be a Russia thing. Could be a space alien thing. Don't really know but says he won't talk to anyone over phone or e-mail. But being as clicks won't click themselves. Don't come back without something!"
Blue’s address was a small two story house in a quiet suburb in Chantilly. As soon as I stepped out of my ’92 Nissan Stanza, Blue motioned for me from the side of the house. Jogging across the street, I got my first good look at him. He was a short, bald, middle aged man with pasty skin and horrible, vinegary breath. His nervous eyes darted back and forth checking the still, work day afternoon street.
“You weren’t followed, were you?” He whispered.
“Nah,” I whispered back in jest.
With several fidgety hand gestures, he bade me to follow him. He made sure to move in the shadow of the building, with his back pressed against the side of the house in order to avoid direct contact with sunlight.
We made our way to a set of backyard stairs that descended into a basement. After Blue apologized for not introducing me to his elderly mother, he opened the door to an old wood working shop that held a small computer workstation and an old printer that looked like it was fished from a Circuit City dumpster in 2005.
The walls were festooned with poor quality paper printouts of women eating salads. Wallpapered from floor to ceiling, their mocking, frozen laughs in various stages of toner cartridge ink remaining surrounded me, inducing a mild bout of claustrophobia.
“Do you see it?” he said as his eyes focused on the somewhat macabre mosaic. I simply shook my head no, and hoped I wasn’t about to find myself in some elaborate ‘Red Dragon’ cosplay.
“Women are never that happy about salad. Do you know what this means?”
Again I shook my head, and waited for him to continue as I glanced back at the door wondering if it was locked.
“Salad, which you know is not as nutritious as the Controllers would have us believe, is made up of primarily Iceberg lettuce… It’s in the name! Ice, which is water, but frozen, isn’t green. Even the name Greenland is a lie meant to trick people to go there. Icebergs are cold, hardened, unyielding and can pierce metallic hulls. It robs metal of its properties. Its purpose! So Iceberg lettuce destroys iron, thus we derive no nourishment from its consumption.” Blue rambled as he paced around the room shaking his head in disgust at the printouts
“But, again, what does this have to do with the women eating salads?” I queried.
“It’s to uphold the World Order, Frederic! Do you see?! Have you ever seen a woman in the Out There truly enjoy eating that lie?! I haven’t. And how can she? She’s deriving no nourishment.”
“So why have them smiling, if it’s a conspiracy?”
“You have to follow the breadcrumbs, or croutons in this case,” He smiled at his little quip as his eyes darted nervously back and forth. “You see, by making women complicit in this, you suppress half the population. But women are much smarter, more perceptive than men because they have two X chromosomes, and X in mathematics stands for the unknown, or unknown being infinite so their power is infinite.”
I nodded along, but my patience was wearing thin. This was fast turning into not being worth two quarter pounders for $5. “Right. But what about the salads, Blue? Tell me about the salads.”
“Do you see? You create a system, one where a single gender is supreme, and you suppress the other with more potential. But it must be subtle. So you create a standard of beauty that’s practically out of reach but theoretically attainable. So they spend most of their lives hating themselves, and then you reinforce it by feeding them food that gives them almost nothing, robs them of the iron to build their spiritual fortress.”
As I looked at the photos, these smiling women eating wholly unappealing salads, I was struck by the diabolical nature of it. I put my hand to my mouth to cover my revulsion.
“It’s all true. All of it. The degradation, the harassment, the double standard, Twitter trolls, dick pics, Donald Trump, the systemic oppression which keeps women from reaching true societal equality, it all comes from salad,” Blue said as the truth became illuminated to me.
As I gazed at the terrible totality of it, I fell to my knees. Bile backed up in my throat. How could I have been so blind? “I… I see it.”
He ripped a long sheet of aluminum foil off, and began making a tri-corner hat. “There are others who know. Those who’ve switched to Romaine and Kale. They follow the truth whether they know it or not. Together we’ll stand up for women. They shall lead a great uprising and reject the Controllers! Only then will the Icebergs no longer control us.”
After a couple of hours, the nauseating stench from the combination vinegar breath and global conspiracy became too much to bear. I graciously took my tin foil tri-hat and left the banal confines of Chantilly.
While stopped at a traffic light I noticed a woman sitting on a park bench eating a salad. She winked, and grinned wide before her jaw unhinged and devoured the bite whole. I looked away in terror and then after taking several moments to steel my resolve I looked back but she was nowhere to be seen.
I couldn't shake the feeling that even this mirage, the possible Kafka-esque psychologically induced bit of madness, conjured from the deep recesses of my own sick mind, could in no way enjoy salad that much.
I drove back to the Banter HQ in silence, reported my findings, and then promptly demanded a second coupon with a breakfast option.