If I look back at my life, I mean, really take a good, hard look, one predominant characteristic keeps coming to mind.
If I strip away all the bullshit and decide to be completely honest with myself, the one thing that I really find sums me up, over and over, is this: I hate salad.
Oh man, even saying that word pisses me off.
I mean, what the hell is this shit anyway? A bunch of yard trimmings thrown in a bowl with some feminine hygiene spray, a few rotten tomatoes, some stale bread… This qualifies as food? Isn’t this America?
I can proudly say that I have never actually eaten a salad. I know this will bring out the “You can’t judge it unless you try it” crowd, but as I’ve told them thousands of times before, just because I haven’t eaten poop or a baby or a giraffe burger doesn’t mean I’m not able to make a decision for myself on their food-worthiness.
You might think that’s a weird thing to be proud of, but I feel it’s the last shred of my childhood integrity still in tact.
You see, childhood is just one, long process of selling out. You are born into this world with a set of preferences: you like peas, you don’t like carrots, you like sucking on boobs and taking a dump whenever you want. As you grow older, these preferences are whittled down, shaved away to become more mainstream.
You like peas AND carrots, because both are good for you. You only like sucking on boobs if you’re a dude or a lesbian. You’re supposed to poop only in a “toilet”. Bleck.
Why do we feel the need to stunt a child’s individuality? Destroy their creativity? Their is a chasm between the expectations of parents and the reality of what is healthy for their child’s development.
So your kid doesn’t want to eat salad? Lock him in his high chair and force it down his throat. He doesn’t want to read? Well send him to pre-school tutoring so he can go to Harvard in 15 years. And what for? To be “happy”? You think that kid’s ever gonna be happy? He won’t even know how, because you took the only time of his life where he can truly know what that means and you had sex with its dead bunny rabbit in front of him.
Well, I’m not sure how, but I was able to resist this sordid attack on my right to pursue happiness. The one that’s in the Bible AND the Constitution.
Salad, you should have finished me off while you had the chance, because I’m coming to get your ass.
You may ask yourself, how can one man stand up against a national movement that numbers in the hundreds of millions?
Let’s face it: those are my odds. Even if you don’t like salad, you eat it. You choke it down and pat yourself on the back for “eating healthy” and “making a difference”. I’m sure people did the same thing in 1938 Germany when they decided their Jewish neighbors would be much better off somewhere else. After all, they never really fit in, did they?
I feel like Neo. You’re all a bunch of sheep, eagerly running to the slaughterhouse.
“No, stop! Don’t you see how awful this stuff is?” I ask.
“But there are croutons!” you insist.
Not only are you unwilling to heed my warnings, you will fight me, tooth and nail as I try to lead you to the truth.
I know that if it comes down to it, you will kill me before you let me enlighten you.
Which is why I have to be smart about this.
I am not strong enough to fight you all. I am probably not strong enough to beat up a baby, to be honest. But I am smarter than you.
The first maxim of Szun-Tsu’s “The Art of War” simply states: Know thy enemy.
I have studied salad for years. I have gone behind enemy lines and made peace with that which I hate. Or so salad would think.
We moved into the same upscale neighborhood together. We bought the same mini-van. Hell, we even went on a dual-family vacation to Cancun one winter break.
When Salad asked me to be godfather to his child, I accepted and gave him a hug as we both wiped tears from our eyes.
I gained his trust, knowing full-well, all along, that one day I would smash it. I would smash it in his stupid, fat face. He would stare at me with his trusting eyes while I laid waste to everything he believed in.
How would I do this? Like I said, I would be smarter and more efficient. I had analyzed the problem from all sides, until I found the one from which I could not fail.
Like all my celebrity friends, Salad’s biggest weakness was his vanity. Once I appealed to this, everything else would fall into place. He would be powerless, completely under my control.
Salad had a nationally syndicated television talk show. He was beamed into the living rooms of millions of homes each night. Though he was, by nearly every means of measuring it, very successful, he always yearned for more.
Salad felt that he should be using his pulpit to educate, to make a difference. To change the world. His handlers and the higher-ups at the network wanted him to sit behind his desk and kiss celebrity ass and make vaguely bawdy comments to the starlets who sat on his couch.
I started to feed this longing inside of him. I encouraged him to stand up to his bosses. It’s amazing how a person with that much power will basically let himself be treated like a child.
He began to have more politically-minded guests on his show. At a GOP fundraiser, he pressed President Bush to make a strong commitment to getting our troops home.
This change invigorated him. His ratings were up and his career surged with a vitality not felt since the early days.
When I felt the time was right, I struck.
We were sitting in his living room, enjoying fine cigars and cognac after dinner. The wives were putting the kids to bed and the first chill of autumn could be felt blowing through the open window.
I asked him how it felt to be at this place in his life. He told me he had never felt so alive before.
“To be out there, at the top of my game, taking risks every night, it’s exhilarating!” he enthused.
“That’s great, man.” Pause. “You really think you’re taking risks, though?” I asked.
His face fell. “Well, yeah, I mean, you know, pushing the show in a more socially conscious direction.”
“I guess… but it’s kinda trendy now to do that anyway, you know? I mean, certainly your ratings haven’t suffered for it.” I was poking. Gently poking.
“That’s true. But–”
“I mean, if you really wanted to take some risks, you’d have to be willing to push things that are a little less palatable on the public, but I don’t blame you for wanting to play it safe. You’ve got a family to think about.” Gently…
He sat there, thinking this over. The tiniest nudge.
“If I were you, I’d probably do the same thing. Nobody wants to rock the boat.” I took a sip from my snifter as he looked down at the floor.
“You think I should?” he asked. The honesty and trust in this man who had been my friend for nearly ten years was truly heartbreaking.
“I think you should listen to that voice in your head. The one that’s guided you to the top. What is he saying?”
“Well, I mean, you know what he’s saying, don’t you?” he looked at me with confusion.
“Of course I do,” I assured him.
“So, you really think I should…” he was hesitant, but pliable. One final touch.
“Yes,” I said, with absolute confidence. And I saw in his face that his mind was made up.
Within three weeks, Salad’s show was off the air. He was a national pariah. The network sued him for his actions and he ended up losing most of his fortune. I hear his kids are in a public school in the valley. His wife hasn’t filed for divorce yet, only because he’s been reduced to such a shadow of his former self that she can freely cheat on him with whomever she wants.
You can sit there and judge me, but you know what? I won. Go into any grocery store. Go ahead, pick one at random. Find me one single head of lettuce. I dare you.
When you walk by those empty shelves that used to be filled with different dressings, think of me.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and justify my actions. I did what I did completely out of my own selfish motivations.
I ruined a man’s life. A man with a wife and children who depended on him. A man whose livelihood was tied to the fortunes of hundreds of employees.
There will be no juicy Christmas hams this holiday season for the grips or the camera operators on Salad’s show.
When it comes down to it, I’m really only one of a handful of people who knew what a racist Salad truly was. But does that wash the hands of those who got in bed with him, literally and metaphorically?
I saw Mrs. Salad tell Larry King that she had no idea her husband felt that way about minorities. She looked into the camera with tears in her eyes and you felt for her. But isn’t that something a wife should know?
I mean, within about six minutes of meeting him, Salad told me his life’s ambition was to get his own show and perform that show in blackface. Do I have some magic power? No. I took the time to find out who this person really was.
I will not apologize for what I did and I do believe I am owed a debt of gratitude by this nation.
Because racism is wrong and a bunch of lettuce covered in vinegar is not a meal. Ugh, disgusting!