Short Imagined Monologues
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A Few Words From a Genetically Modified Eggplant.
BY ERIC HAGUE
Growing up as an eggplant, I got used to a certain amount of rejection. With all the exotic produce options available at grocery stores these days—pummelos, sea kale, dragon fruit, you name it—what would any self-respecting shopper want with a boring old aubergine like me?
But it never occurred to me that maybe some people were avoiding me because of my status as a so-called genetically modified organism. At least, not until a few days ago when a freak mutation caused me to spontaneously achieve consciousness.
Honestly, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. People have been crossbreeding plants for thousands of years. Every single one of the crops we enjoy today—from the common tomato to the eggplant spliced with rhesus monkey DNA for some reason—has undergone changes from its original form. The whole idea of “natural” foods seems pretty silly if you ask me, a talking vegetable.
And yet there are still folks out there who refuse to accept all the good stuff about GMOs. Without genetic engineering, would I be as rich a source of Manganese, B6, and dietary fiber? Would my shelf life be a full four to six days longer than that of a typical eggplant? Would my strawberry-blonde hair be so lustrous and thick? Meanwhile, no one wants to buy me simply because I don’t have one of those USDA certified organic stickers on me—even though I’ve been trying my hardest to reproduce the logo by dynamically modulating the pigments in my skin cells. I just can’t seem to get the font right, though.
I’m also tired of all the rumors. Did you know that some genetically altered crops actually require less pesticide treatment than their unmodified counterparts? Personally, I consider myself pretty darn good at fending off insects and small rodents without the help of chemicals. I also tend to vomit uncontrollably when that stuff gets into my gills.
But somehow that information never makes it into any of those White House petitions on GMO labeling. And that kind of ignorance—and lack of empathy—really sticks in my craw. Did I mention I have a craw? It’s on the other side of my thorax, right next to my penis.
I just don’t understand how people can be so intolerant sometimes. The other day I was hanging out with my buddy Phil—he’s some kind of cantaloupe, maybe a honeydew or butterscotch melon, plus a river lamprey—when we noticed this little girl staring at us from across the produce section. So Phil, just trying to be friendly, hops out of the refrigerator and starts limping toward her using the prehensile tentacle that’s been growing out of his ear. Suddenly the girl’s screaming, her mom’s screaming—Phil’s screaming—and the next thing you know they’re evacuating the Save-A-Lot. All Phil wanted was a hug, and to taste the sweet nectar of human blood. But it was mostly—let’s say 60 percent—about the hug.
Sure, on some level it’s a little troubling the way that big agricultural concerns can use intellectual property laws to control the distribution of genetically modified seeds. On the other hand, OH GOD I SHOULDN’T EXIST WHY IS THIS HAPPENING WHY AM I CAPABLE OF THOUGHT AND FEELING AND PAIN AHHHHH——Whoops! Don’t mind me. That’s just a goofy thing I say sometimes. My impulse control has been a little wonky ever since my frontal lobe metamorphosed into eagle talon.
It’s a good-looking eagle talon, too—I just wish it would stop using sign language to ask passing customers to buy it cigarettes.
Anyway, the bottom line is that there’s no scientific evidence to back up any of the negative claims people are making about transgenic foods. The FDA, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association have all concluded that bioengineered crops are no riskier to eat than most fruits and vegetables. GMOs don’t cause cancer (unlike smoking, eagle talon!), and they don’t cause early-onset puberty. A couple of minutes ago I unhinged my mandible and devoured Phil whole as he tried to stave me in with his tusk. Did I go through puberty? No. Not male puberty anyway.
And in case you’re wondering, Phil tasted exactly like any other marsupial.
People need to learn to be more open-minded about their food choices. They need to realize that modern advances in agricultural technology are in many ways a lot like the thousands of tiny centipede-like hatchlings streaming out of my mouth: they might seem new and scary at first, but as long as you don’t let them lay eggs in your corneas, you won’t be liable for patent infringement under U.S. law. The reality is, all most GMOs want out of life is to be taken home by a decent family and lovingly incorporated into a Sunday meal following a violent struggle when the GMO changes its mind at the last second and goes berserk. Really, it all boils down to common sense and understanding. GMOs are people just like you, after all, and we deserve a chance.
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