Monday, October 06, 2003

Green Beans Aren’t Just Cheap Food

Parker’s wife sat on the porch snapping beans. In her 34 years of living, snapping beans was the only practice her family exercised cooperatively. Her mother was a non-practicing Jew and her father was a stay at home dietician who believed in the food pyramid according to cost efficiency. Her mother spoke a language of gibberish she fondly called Yiddish. When speaking to her husband she took care to be misunderstood. It was a game she played “in fun” but it was know by all that she just resented her husband’s stinginess and raily body. If she couldn’t buy her lamb chops and veal, he shouldn’t get the pleasure of understanding her. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a non-cuisine-experiencing tooth. Father in earnest believed that the best meal could be purchased and prepared for under $3. He designed charts and shopping guides, which were hung from the walls and ceilings by recycled Scotch Tape pieces. He didn’t believe in waste and was bound by his conscience to maximize resources. His life practices conflicted with her fantastic dreams but there was a point between their worlds where the reality of their extremes collided.

Mother had a rebellious spirit so from her youth on she made an effort to be a challenge. Her parents were casual attendees of the synagogue only making appearances on Jewish holidays that excused their absences from their workplaces. Mother inherited their defiance. She developed exquisite taste for apparel, food, music, and art. The only aspect of this equation that wasn’t balanced was her choice of men. After all, she found her husband who was by no means anything worth bragging about.

Her husband, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, was a simply spoken fellow who didn’t mind being told what to do. He quite enjoyed his wife’s deliverance of opinions.

They were not a picture perfect couple but they respected each other’s differences. It was quite a prosperous arrangement. She carried the whip and reigns while he pulled the cart, uphill and barefoot. They almost understood each other, or managed to build an oddly balanced life together. Even the stork was so perplexed by their relationship he was hesitant to drop their new child at their doorstep, but mother forcefully demanded the child. Mother knew what she wanted and father just followed her lead. However, as different as they seemed to be, they shared a common pleasure beyond the enjoyment of their daughter.

Father was the leader of the family’s grocery store excursions, being the wallet carrier, breadwinner, and health guru. This was the only circumstance in which mother’s aggressiveness was pacified. The corner market was the parallel universe wherein mother had no interest in dominance. She held their little baby anxiously, awaiting her pleasure. Father loved green beans and his treat to mother was what every Jewish girl ought to eat: ham. Green beans and ham cost all of $2.35. The perfect meal.

To prolong the delight of their shared pleasure, Mother and father made an event of snapping the beans. Mother would dress up and take a seat on the front porch of their house, sitting in a rocking chair to keep the baby silent so that everyone might consider the wonderful event taking place without distractions. Father would sit beside her quietly gathering the snapped ends of the beans and setting them in one bowl and the beans in another. They didn’t speak much during these times for they didn’t intent to ruin their closest moments with words. However their daughter heard loud enough that this time was something special.

Since these weekends spent silently snapping beans with Mother and Father clumsily loving each other, Parker’s wife made a tradition of the occasions. On this particular day years later, after she grew to be a woman herself, she snapped green beans bought from the corner market and waited for her husband to return from the city. She sat and dreamed of the sole act of togetherness that her parents shared snapping the ends and pulling the ends from their awkward love.

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