Archive for April, 2010

Salad Days

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I’ve never considered myself a fan of Garrison Keillor.  The allure of A Prairie Home Companion and the quirky residents of Lake Wobegon continues to elude me.  But I feel differently about his syndicated columns, which usually delve into meatier matters.  For instance, he wrote a terrific piece after the last presidential election in which he noted that:  “The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos and instead we have us a 47‑year‑old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back. He’ll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters.”  Amen.

The title of one of his recent commentaries caught my eye: “Vanilla Can Be a Flavor to Savor.”  I was ready to read some heresy dissing the virtues of my favorite ice cream flavor, i.e., chocolate.  Instead, Mr. Keillor wrote about how lucky we are to live in the U.S. these days and how people are generally in a pretty good frame of mind—in spite of right-wing rantings to the contrary.

But what particularly got my attention was his reference to “our salad days.”  More specifically, he asked us to embrace “those dull virtues that we rebelled against back in our salad days—don’t run in the dark, don’t be a jerk, get over yourself, do your work, avoid self-pity, pay attention, know that the law of gravity applies to you, too, and hang onto your old friends because there may come a day when there’s no good reason for people to like you except out of habit.”

As to “salad days,” I now know that this expression refers to those times of innocence and pleasure associated with youth. And that its original author was none other than William Shakespeare, in Antony and Cleopatra.  This term was also the inspiration for the Monty Python spoof sketch “Sam Peckinpah’s Salad Days.”

I know this doesn’t have all that much to do with green salads, but Mr. Keillor’s observations certainly provided me with some food for thought.  It’s also comforting to know that, even for those of us whose “salad days” are long gone,  there are still many tasty greens that remain
to be savored.

Yours till Shakespeare plays,