It wasn't the bleak winter weather that inspired a friend of mine to live differently, nor a New Year's resolution, nor even an uneasy sense that coffee every morning and red wine every evening was not, perhaps, the ideal system for maximum health and mental efficiency.
"No, I just got bored," she told me. "I thought: I will eat fruit for a week and see what it feels like!"
She began announcing this intention to anyone who would listen and quickly discovered that, behind the facade of normal life, the Washington area is absolutely seething with fruit fanatics.
They are not eaters of fruit, however, but drinkers of the juices of fruit -- as well as of the liquids that can be extracted from almonds and kale and cucumber and beets.
"I'm juicing," these people say to one another, with straight faces.
And why not? Juice is delicious. If freshly squeezed, it's packed with nutrients. Wonderfully extravagant claims are made for the power that fresh juice possesses: It'll rush through your body, driving toxins before it like Pharaoh and the Israelites! It'll cleanse you from top to bottom, leaving your digestion enlivened and your brain refreshed! You will enjoy lustrous skin, sparkling eyes and a vigorous love life!
The promise of so much liquefied goodness was too exciting. My friend bailed on her plan to eat fruit for a week and began to devise an elaborate menu of smoothies that she would drink instead. She planned to buy blueberries and frozen mango chunks and chia seeds and ground flax. She would get oranges and strawberries and yogurt.
Then she would buy a new blender, because her old one seemed too mangy and dented for such a magnificent campaign of self-improvement.
Just in time, one of the juicers -- that is, one of the "I'm juicing" persons -- casually mentioned that she didn't need to make the juices herself. She could purchase all that was needed in the way of wheatgrass from a special juice bar. It would cost her, but might be easier than pulping a weeks' worth of rations. This was very exciting, and she plunked down the dough right away.
"I'm going to juice!" she declared. "Care to juice with me?"
"Yes!" said half a dozen friends.
"Ew," said a more skeptical associate.
"You won't be saying 'Ew' when you see healthy I am," she shot back. "You will be saying, 'When can I start juicing'?"
The next day she (and the juicing friends, I can only assume) admired the large containers of mysterious candy-colored beverages in her fridge. Soon she would be renewed, cleansed of all unpleasantness! At breakfast next morning, she knocked back a greenish lemony beverage. It was weird, but nice. A few hours later she drank a strange green fluid, followed after an interval by an orangey puree.
My friend began to feel queasy. I want a hamburger, she thought.
That night, an email circulated among her neighborhood friends. The title was "Blech."
The message read, approximately: "Juice cleanse HORRIBLE. I bagged out tonight in favor of FOOD. I have many jars of fresh raw juice, tasty but not all #$@%^&% day long. Limited shelf life. Want any?"
By morning, she had no takers.
It was just as well because, to my friend's surprise, she woke up feeling absolutely splendid. "Apparently the first day is the worst!" she sang, "I feel marvelous! Incredible! Amazing!"
The seething ranks of juice fanatics have, it seems, claimed another convert.
Meghan Cox Gurdon's column appears on Sunday and Thursday. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.