Saturday, August 6, 2022

Real Men Don't Eat Quiche.

You probably don't remember this--but once upon a time in 1982 a book called Real Men Don't Eat Quiche was released to great fanfare. It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek guide to all that is truly masculine, but I remember at the time, that some people actually took it seriously. And as a result, many men assiduously avoided quiche, since it was deemed a "feminine" food.

I know, I know. Seems crazy now. But I'm telling you--it was a thing. 

And, certainly Papa Callan abided by the no-quiche-eating rule. 

Papa Callan was a meat and potatoes man. He liked Dinty Moore Stew and Hungry Man TV dinners. He liked McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts. He liked cold rice with sugar and milk. Not the most healthy diet in the world, but in his defense, he did live to be 97--almost 98.

When I was seven years old, my mother was sent to the Fairfield State Hospital “for a rest.” (This was something that happened back then--typically to people who ate quiche--but that’s a story for another day.) Anyway, it meant that Papa Callan had to do the meal preparations. His idea of cooking was actually kind of fun because it was Boy Scout style-end of the world-Army/Navy-campfire cooking. He liked to grill steak on the barbecue. If it was raining and he couldn't use the grill, he got a big pot of water, brought it to a boil and then dumped cans of food in it. The food still in the cans. Baked beans, creamed corn, and then, in a same pot, he'd throw in some hot dogs and boil them. Voila! Dinner!

At night, he read Treasure Island or Kidnapped to me and my older brother and finally he played taps, or actually hummed it. I tried to get into the spirit of things and I would salute Papa Callan, but he didn't think this was funny because he said we shouldn't make light of the military. So, I learned to resist saluting him and went to sleep with dreams of being kidnapped by pirates.

Even as he was dying last year, and I would sometimes salute him before saying goodnight, but he frowned at me and I would apologize. Truthfully, I never meant to make fun of him. Rather, I wanted to let him know that I appreciated his world and his world-view, but maybe too, I wanted to remind him of my childhood and let him know that while I come from the quiche-eating side of the world, I am perfectly willing to travel to Papa Callan's world of campfire steak and pirates and saluting my fellow officers.

Creative friends--try traveling to another person's country--whether that country is real or imaginary. Expand your vision and put on your magic travel glasses. Think about someone who has a diet--or does something that you find strange or wrong or just plain weird. And now, rather than tisk-tisking this person, I would like you to look closer and ask yourself what this has to do with their childhood, their history, their personal quirks and the time in which they came of age. Bring an open heart and a sense of humanity to this exercise. Next, flip the script on the thing you find the most foreign or strange and try to look within this for the heart-warming, soft, creamy center where vulnerability hides. And within this, you'll find love and humor. Yes, humor.

This takes imagination and creativity, but it will change your life and open a whole new world to you.

I promise you.

And as always, have fun.



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