Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Emperor Of Cornville

Is there really any nutritional value in corn?

That is not a rhetorical question. It is a pet peeve of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. A major pet peeve, outgrowing its pants, getting too big for its britches, too old to go trick-or-treating, too big for a kid's meal, now paying full price at the cinema, able to enter R-rated movies, and eager to buy lottery tickets and cigarettes.

You would think that such a massive issue would be confronted. Dealt with. Resolved. But that's not how we do things in Hillmomba. This overgrown problem pet peeve would be swept under the rug if only we could find a loom large enough to supply such a carpet. It is the elephant in the room. The eggshells upon which we walk as we search for a suitable dune in which to bury our noggins.

For 12 of the last 13 years, I have lunched with a certain member of the faculty. We joined the Newmentia crew the same year. We teach the same students. He is like the lunch table paterfamilias. I bear him no ill will. But I am approaching my breaking point.

Every time I sit down to lunch, on a day in which the top chefs of the cafeteria serve corn (at least three times per week), Colonel Corn leans into my personal space, the 1/8 of a round table that I have commandeered for me, my paper plate, and I. He whispers conspiratorially, "Is there really any nutritional value in corn?" Every time the cafeteria serves corn. For 12 of the last 13 years.

I think I have shown remarkable restraint. I chuckle. I shake my head. My eyes don't roll. I don't suggest that Colonel Corn place a foot-garment in his oral cavity. I am not sure of my brushstrokes in the big picture. Is the Colonel inquiring rhetorically? Is he expecting an answer concocted from my vast stores of scientific data? Is he trying out his stand-up act on me?

Last week, I mentioned it to LunchBuddy, who sits to my left. How Colonel Corn can't seem to stop asking me the same question. After 12 of the last 13 years. She thought it amusing. I think her exact words were, "CACKLE, CACKLE, CACKLE--HEE HAW!" But not in so many words.

Today, we had Max Snax Tacos with a side of corn. I steeled myself for the inquisition. In fact, I waited the entire twenty-three-minute lunch period (from 10:53 until 11: 16) for the shoe to drop. LunchBuddy distracted me by revealing that she had an important question to ask me, but that she could not do so until lunch was over.

At the bell, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Is there really any nutritional value in corn?"


Kathy's Klothesline said...

The Indians called it maize ......

Hillbilly Mom said...

But the Colonel does not. Now I am reminded of that public service announcement with the single Indian garbage tear.

Mommy Needs a Xanax said...

It has sustained a lot of people for a long time without much else. Ask a Mexican. They're not eating beef filled burritos with delicious refried beans. They're eating corn tortillas with salt.

You should research the nutritional value of corn, find a grain (haha) of evidence that there is, in fact, some nutritional value, and next time he asks the question go into a lecture about how it's good know, whatever it's good for. That'd be too much work but it might shut him up.

Hillbilly Mom said...

That would be beating Colonel Corn at his own game of being the leading authority on anything up for discussion. He might short-circuit if I responded with a researched answer.

Think of it. He asks the question. I put on a pair of librarian glasses, pull a tabletop podium from under my chair, unfold a mini-easel upon which I place pie charts and triple-colored line graphs (which I tap with a pointer), and motion to my assistant to turn on a boom-box that plays Oh, What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma, keyed to start at the line: the corn is as high as an elephant's eye.

Yeah. He would be speechless. From apoplexy.