Breakups are hard but I think I've arrived at a point in my relationship with General Tso where he and I need to spend some time apart. Lately our visits have been more out of habit than desire. He would not be wrong to think it is random and undeserved, after all I could do the same thing with wine, coffee, toast, and eggs, with whom I equally carry on affairs of convenience, and one day I may, but it is his turn. It is less a breakup than a weaning. I have no doubt that there will be visits but I think our weekly sessions need to stop. It is just time.
I think it is quite possible that I've had over 1,500 portions of General Tso's Chicken in my life to date though it could easily be more. I took off some for college years but there were definitely weeks growing up where we ordered it in more than once a week so it is neither here nor there. That would mean that the General and I have shared his chicken for longer than my daughter has been alive, for almost as long as I have known my wife. While less expensive a habit than smoking or a Starbucks latte a day it adds up to a decent car, a semester of kindergarten at my alma mater, or a real contribution to a nicer house.
I've been with the General so long but I really know nothing about him. On the one hand this is to be expected since he was too busy to meet with everyone on the West Side of Manhattan on Sunday night and would instead send intermediaries who would bring his chicken to our house. But I also suspect that some of this intentional, that the sauce and fried chicken were a smoke-screen blocking not only my arteries but any real attempt to get to know him as he hid behind different speed-dial numbers. Was he just an invention who came into my life as an odd circumstance of my birthplace. If I had grown up somewhere else he and I might never had met and formed the bond we did and I would be healthier for it. The planet would be healthier too and this has something to do with the breakup. His switch to plastic containers destined for landfill has saddened me. I think if the General and I had shared meals on the battlefield after plundering yet another chicken coop I might feel differently but he is now fighting a modern war and the plastic takeout is just another reflection of his impersonal ways. So goodbye General, we will meet again I'm sure but let's not make it too soon.