Matt Rowan


And I go in again. And I go out again.

And when I’m in I say:

“Typical mean-spirited comment of a mean-spirited and lame jerk. Way to be lame, John. Way to be so so so lame.”

And when I’m out I say:

“What was important about that?! Why couldn’t I not care less? I should have not cared less!” (But maybe I’m in right now, so I might, when out, put it more eloquently. This I do not know.)

What was important was, when I was in, all we thought about was being pro-steak. But not everyone who was in was cool with steak. There were others who were against it. Two camps. Two factions. One object: steak.

(You have to understand, I am so rarely ever out. More often I am in. More often everyone is in.)

About steaks, a conversation usually devolved like this (when I was in, of course):

A steak-eater is more than unusually generous and loving. They love to love eating steaks and they hate not eating them. That’s the definition of a steak-eater. Also they’re free of prejudice and hate. Hate to speak hate! (and in only that contradictory way are they not free of hate, hating hate. But the contradiction has been around for some time, and is a kind of punchline in itself, given its obvious paradox, so much so that it probably doesn't bear mentioning and we should just skip it and focus on the genuinely held dislike of hate which steak-eaters most typically feel.)

“Sounds like me!” said a steak-eater for sure.


“Love! Love!” said another.


“Is it irony that these words are on my refrigerator scrawled over a picture of a juicy steak?” A jubilant one of us said.

“No, it isn’t.” said another correctly correcting the last one, the jubilant one of us. “That’s not ironic.” But people moved on in the conversation, not acknowledging the correction but some hopefully taking it into consideration, at least.

“Why be anything else?” said yet another come to enjoy the party.

But then came a person who held the opposite view. There was one of two views to hold in any scenario concerning steak: 1.) you love steak or 2.) you do not but instead hate it.

His name was John McNoodles. He said, “YEAH, ANYONE can be generous about eating steak when it’s not their steak but OTHER people’s, in the first place, and secondly they LIKE steak. Give me your steak and see how generous I can be! Need I remind you I HATE steak? If I ate it it’s possible I would barf, but give me your steak and see how generous I can be with it anyway. If I eat it you’ll also see me barf.”

“I think we have a lying steak-hater in our midst. John has said nothing but derogatory remarks. But what is he really talking about? No one knows! He’s a liar.”

“It’s a fact that steak-haters eat more of their steak than steak-eaters. We just usually barf it up after eating it because we hate it. So who’s the real liar?”

Nicholson also came out in support of John McNoodles, who was no longer around. McNoodles had gone someplace else but his words were heavy and weighed “in” completely down with controversy. “That definition of ‘steak-eater’ comes from the 1700s during the ‘Age of Steak’, when people who supported the new wave of steakization in Steakland opposed the ruling anti-steakigarchy and called for greater freedom to eat steak, and also to sell it, if you hated steak or had no need for your steak. The modern steak-eater holds no correlation to that era’s steak-eater, so stop flattering yourselves, steak-eating losers. Plus, steak does taste terrible and I hate to eat it.”

But another steak-eater had a response to that steak-hater, Nicholson, and his words of historical significance or supposed historical significance. “Steak-eater’s meaning is as true today as it was then, and news flash: back then it was loaded with the most meaning it has ever had till today, which is one and probably the only one rare occasion in history when its meaning is greater than it was then.”

And the conversation goes. But you know what doesn’t get decided? Whether steak-eaters or steak-haters are on the “right” side. Both sides just bleed into blurs of dreams and take on a kind of echo, until you see this picture of a baby and you and everyone are one, and the baby tells you how to live is very simple. One way or the other, you will live. You will be. It’s hard to see the merits of eating and not eating steak. A mouth gets bigger but the rest stays the same size. Never gets older. Always stays the same person. Like a pillar of salt. And the dreams you have are the worst dreams ever. Banal and strict and acerbic and rote. You work in a manufactory blowing gray glass bottles and painting them grayer.

You’re so rarely out, and you’re almost always in.

Matt Rowan lives in Chicago. He is co-editor of Untoward Magazine and author of Why God Why (Love Symbol Press, 2013). He has previously been published (or is forthcoming) in Monkeybicycle, Artifice, SmokeLong Quarterly, Toad and Another Chicago Magazine, among others.