You tuck these disturbing self-realizations away in the attic of your brain, to be dealt with at a vague date far off in the bright and never-ending future you envisage for yourself. But really the only thing that is ever going to pull you out of this denial is either tragedy or death, or else a flash of epiphany brought on by some seemingly inconsequential detail of life.
In this case it was iceberg lettuce.
More specifically, it was how iceberg lettuce has gotten a bad rap in recent times, usurped by the ostensibly superior romaine and green leaf lettuces.
It all began when it was suggested to me that iceberg has no nutritional value whatsoever, other than as a possible source for hydration, and not even a good source at that. I was told that you might as well drink a thimble of water, for all the good iceberg does you.
I felt a minor jolt of irritation by this statement, but laughed it off: “You’re ridiculous,” I joked, “all vegetables are nutritious, including iceberg lettuce.”
“No, there’s NOTHING good about it. I’d drink puddle water before consuming a single leaf of iceberg lettuce!” replied my iceberg-hating friend.
This annoyed me…a lot.
“So, let me get this straight,” I responded with a slightly raised voice, “you would rather feed your children a glass of filthy, disease-infested water from a muddy alleyway puddle than a nice, clean and refreshing iceberg salad??”
“Yes, that’s right,” she answered straight-faced. “In fact, iceberg lettuce should be eradicated from the planet; it’s just taking up space that could be better utilized growing dandelions.”
What? This woman was a buffoon.
How dare she say a common weed like the dandelion was superior to iceberg lettuce!
Her blatant, uninformed stereotyping of iceberg lettuce now infuriated me.
I felt compelled, right then and there, to defend the lettuce at all costs, even to the point of absurdity, if necessary.
My feisty opponent, on the other hand, felt compelled to attack iceberg lettuce at all costs, also to the point of absurdity, if necessary.
Well, it became necessary, as you might have gathered from the above.
So there we were, two absurdities coming to blows over iceberg lettuce.
It was somewhere in the midst of grabbing my purse and storming out of the room in search of a fresh head of iceberg lettuce, so I could ram it down her throat, as I had only moments before threatened to do, that I simultaneously realized the lunacy of our inane argument and also how boring I must be to get so incensed over what really is nothing more than a leaf. There are more important things to be upset about, surely.
I thus dejectedly sat back down on the couch beside my friend and asked with genuine concern, “What kind of life is this? What kind of people are we?”
I fully expected her to share my lament over our vacuous, uninteresting existences, but all she grumbled was, “Speak for yourself.”
I guess she was still angry that I was going to assault her with a head of iceberg lettuce wrapped in cellophane. She however eventually forgave my empty threat, as I did her for insulting my intelligence by saying I had “lettuce for a brain”
It wasn’t long, though, before we were back at it. This time my outrage stemmed from her preposterous assertion that not only are there over a thousand different varieties of the walnut, but one of these varieties was purposely wiped out because it was discovered to cure cancer: “And everyone knows big business does NOT want to cure cancer,” she informed me.
I could feel that old agitation bubble up inside me.
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to get into a whole thing about NOTHING again. Plus, I had already come to the realization that my life was boring, and moreover had made the resolution that I must do something, anything to make it a little more exciting.
Therefore, without another word, I got back up, put on my coat and left to go buy a head of iceberg lettuce wrapped in cellophane. No more empty threats.