Friday, March 23, 2007

Suburban Legends

An active mother of three. That's how every description of a suburban mom begins.

  • Local news report: "Now here's a story about a real hero. Julie Jones is an active mother of three . . . "
  • Volunteer awards ceremony: "Next, we would like to honor Suzy Smith, an active mother of three . . . "
  • Obituary: "The deceased was an active mother of three . . . "

Has anyone ever heard of an inactive mother of three?

"She was a lazy ass-mother of three . . . " Never happens. Could actually be true, but nobody would ever say it. Well, not in public.

I have issues with language. Things irritate me. More than they should.

I am unsure at what point in our grammatical history "active" became a definite article for mothers of any number of children (not exclusively for mothers of three, but no mother of three exists without that modifier.) That example is bad enough, however, here is probably the worst offender, in my self righteous opinion, of a definite article that has permanently attached itself to a noun like KFed to Brit's money:

the green bean casserole

Most of you probably have no clue what I'm talking about. (See--it's that whitetrashiosis rearing its badly bleached, blonde head again.) When planning any holiday meal--Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Flag Day--one of the elder stateswomen of my family predictably requests that someone bring the green bean casserole. And I know its not just my family. The circumstantial evidence in the grocery store irrefutably casts said bean blasphemy as a major player in the average suburban tragedy commonly billed as 'dinner'.

Are we all familiar with green bean casserole? Slimy concoction of canned beans, canned condensed soup, and French's brand (does any other company even make this stuff?) french fried onions. (And in case you're wondering, out of sympathy and respect for country and culinary culture, I refuse to capitalize the word french in that description.)

Green bean casserole is to our era what jell-o was to my mom's. With its tempting formula of few ingredients and practically zero prep time; with its non-threatening nature that appeals even to the most epicurephobic of great uncles; with its dependence on staples likely already dusty on the pantry shelves (save the aforementioned fried onions that are doubtless specially purchased for the occasion;) green bean casserole has infiltrated the suburban holiday dinner table and declared permanent residence. God save us all.

There are so many things about its status that offend me. Not the least of which is the resulting disappearance of more interesting, seasonal vegetable dishes that now never even get a walk-on role. Not too many years ago the rest of the menu might be set, but the veggies enjoyed an open audition for the privilege to support the main players. But now, dare I suggest I would like to bring a different (oh, I don't know--colorful, flavorful, healthful, noncrapful) sort of veggie dish to a family fete, and I am met with this stock response, "Oh no, that's not necessary. I'm making the green bean casserole."

And the whole of the produce section sighs in resignation and quietly rots itself to sleep . . .

The green bean casserole. Vaunted pretender to the head of the table. The green bean casserole. As though the turkey, the cranberry sauce and the pumpkin pie weren't holding the fort just fine on their own. Now they require the assistance of degenerate legume amalgam to fortify any and every American feast.

I have thought way too much about this. And, just between you and me, I have been seen eating (gasp--enjoying!) the stuff. *sigh*


whitenoise said...

Must be a local cultural thing. We don't seem to have The green bean casserole in my trailer-park. Potato chips are vegetables, right?

Rick said...

You are a trip! Green bean casserole is my wife's specialty. Mine is orange jello with mandarine oranges suspended in it. All of these delectables are properly served in a left over Cool Whip bowl. What time should we arrive?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! "The green bean casserole" is your metaphor for all things non-meat and non-Guiness, right?

clarice said...

You ate green bean casserole. Have I taught our taste buds nothing. I am not sure we can be friends anymore xoxox Clarice

Kristin said...

Omigosh--you guys make me laugh so hard that it rattles all the trailer windows!

Whitenoise and Rick--y'all are welcome to bring your families on over just as soon as my canned baked beans with added miniature weenies is done.

Anon: I know, right? You can't even BBQ that damn casserole!

Clarice--I was hoping you wouldn't read this one. I am *so* sorry to disappoint you. *sigh* Now I'm depressed and I must go back to eating chocolate chips out of the bag ; )

Rick said...

Did I miss something? Eating chocolate chips from the bags is a bad thing?

whitenoise said...

Hey, where's my daily fix?!

C'mon! People need to be entertained here!!! ;-)