That was not a metaphor. It is a statement of fact. Iceberg lettuce, a member of the daisy family, is dumb.
It is pointless, tasteless, and makes babies cry.
There. I said it. And I feel better. I’m sure all of those “Iceberg Lettuce Fan Clubs” are up in leaves because I mocked their idol. Only they’re not.
Because there are no iceberg lettuce fan clubs. (I checked.)
My distaste for the “Lettuce formerly known as Crisphead” started when I was but a wee lad. I remember it as if it were . . . 1st grade. Because it was. I was going through the lunch line, minding my own business, getting my sub sandwich, a cookie, and maybe that weird mixed veggie thing. Then the cafeteria woman, whom I had previously found charming, demanded that I put this faint green fiend on my plate. She also included one tiny piece of purple something (perhaps cabbage) and a sliver of carrot. I gave her an affronted look, which she did not see.
Near the end of lunch, it remained on my tray. Until my first grade teacher, Ms. Corn, came by.
“Mark [my middle name], you haven’t eaten your healthy salad yet.” She did not leave until I did. Really strong commitment, that woman.
Lunch was ruined, but something good did come out of it: That day, I discovered my food nemesis, iceberg lettuce, that barely-any-nutritional-value abomination.
I would compare it to celery, but celery at least has ants on a log.
I don’t like leaves of it and certainly not shredded. I don’t like it on my sandwiches. I don’t like how some restaurants pile half the plate with it. Seriously, iceberg lettuce adds nothing to my tostadas. Nothing but sadness.
I would not eat it in a boat. Or in a moat. Or with a goat. The goat would be all over it, though. Because goats eat everything.
I don’t like iceberg lettuce. At all. I do like fresh spinach, though.
So why must we continued to suffer through this lettuce plague? Because it’s a not a plague? Because some people like iceberg lettuce? Because you’re the only one that feels that way, Steven? No, none of those are correct. If that’s the way you feel, your opinion is false.
The reason we continue to face this tasteless enemy is because someone, somewhere told you that it was healthy. It’s the most popular lettuce in the U.S. What does that say about America? Nothing good, I assure you. Something must be done, and now.
Because if not, it will only get worse. Trust me. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Or at least Pants does.
You see, Pants is our family cat. My wife adopted her before we were married. Pants was the cat at the shelter that probably wouldn't have been adopted if not for Maggie. She was scruffy and wild and, shall we say, less than attractive. Over the 11 years she’s been a part of our family, she’s turned into an absolutely charming, if slightly insane, cat. Pants and I get along great, although there was this one time that she regrew an ovary and decided that I was the target of her affections. It was uncomfortable and our relationship was strained for a while because of it. But that’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about a staring contest. With a cat.
I like staring contests. I’m pretty much at a championship level, and no matter what anyone says, it has nothing to do with who I challenge. My children, people who aren't aware they’re competing against me, people who don’t want to compete (can you say forfeit?), my students, people with severe eye allergies, and this one one-eyed homeless waif who wore a potato sack. My goal has always been to pick competitors who won’t provide much of a challenge. There’s a life lesson there. My only mistake ever in the hugely popular world of staring contests was challenging Pants.
It was a summer night. We lived in a tiny house with an even tinier air conditioner that cooled two feet in front of it, and Maggie and I were watching something on TV. I was stretched out on the couch, and Pants jumped up on my chest, close to my face, and started staring at me. Challenging me, if you will. At first, I ignored it. I had had 4 matches in my 7th-grade classroom the previous week (all victories), so I didn't have much interest in it. But being a fighting champion, a natural competitor, and sort of bored, I finally relented with a simple statement to my feline soon-to-be foe.
“Bring it, Pants.”
And she brought it. We stared at each other intently, both determined not to look away or blink. A bead of sweat dripped in my eye, but I was unaffected. I was also unaffected by wife advising me to throw in the towel and quit. I was taken aback by that for a moment. Did Rocky Balboa throw in the towel when Apollo Creed was fighting Drago in Rocky IV? No, and because of that . . . [SPOILER ALERT] Apollo didn't quit. He lost the match and then . . . died. Actually, that’s a bad example. Anyway, looking back, I suppose I should have listened to her.
Several minutes into our match, Pants, clearly understanding that she was about to lose, decided to cheat. Much like Mike Tyson taking an ear, Pants lashed out with a paw, claws out, at my face. She made contact and it hurt. I broke the stare and jumped off the couch. I went to check my face in the bathroom mirror and found that I was bleeding and that my eye was scratched. As a true warrior, I started laughing, but Maggie saw it and demanded that I go to the emergency room. [Ed: He was bleeding FROM THE EYE. I stand by my decision.]
That’s right, a staring contest with my cat sent me to the emergency room.
The emergency room personnel, though caring and competent, seemed to all be working on their fledgling stand-up comedy routines and using me and my dreadful situation as the majority of their material. And . . . they clearly did not understood the rules of a staring contest because, after hearing my story, one after another they said the same thing:
“Guess we know who won!”
That’s right, we do. Me. Using one’s paw to slash your competitor across the eye and sending said competitor to the emergency room is clearly a violation of staring contest rules. And it doesn’t matter that staring at an animal is seen as a challenge. Because it was a challenge. A staring contest challenge. Not a fight to the death one.
That was years ago. I picked up my win by disqualification, my eye survived, and Pants and I have moved on from the event. And sometimes, we even still engage in staring contests.
I’m just in another room when it happens.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.