12 October 2013

The Pea

Nothing else from my childhood elicited as much excitement and pleasure as the first ripe peas in the garden. My appetite for peas was insatiable. I keenly remember being woken up by my mother, cooing softly that the peas were ready, and then immediately devouring every last one of them. When all the ripe and passably ripe peas had been eaten, I moved on to the totally unripe peas, and sometimes just chewed on the empty pods. My left thumb was green throughout summer, not because I have ever had any inclination towards gardening, but because the process of popping open a shell and scraping out the peas into your open palm will invariably dye your thumb green.

No amount of words will ever be able to communicate just how much I love fresh peas from the garden.  I was tempted to record myself making frustrated grunting noises because I think that sound is probably the only thing that could accurately capture how I feel about peas.  But I don’t know how to do that.  And it also would be really weird if there were just sounds of my grunting floating around on the internet.  In lieu of that, here are some things I want to do with peas:

  • Collect a lot of peas—still in their pod—in a bag and sit down with them and eat them.  I want for there to be so many peas that it becomes a mechanized routine: select a pod from the bag; pop open with thumb and index finger; slide out the peas with my thumb and cup them in my hand; put all of them in my mouth at one time; discard the empty pod into the empties pile.
  • Shell a bunch of peas and refrain from eating them.  Pool all of the loose peas in a large serving bowl and then slowly submerge my hand into the loose peas and feel them slip through my fingers.  Then select one beautiful pea, and crush it between my teeth.  Then eat all of the peas in handfulls.
  • Get a large bowl of loose peas.  Put my lips really close to the surface of the peas and then suck them up like a vacuum cleaner.
  • Hold a bunch of peas in the palm of my hand, but keep my palm as flat as would be possible to still hold the peas.  Then eat them out of the palm of my own hand like how a horse eats things out of the palms of hands.

Isn't it crazy to think that I've never had a single lesson on Photoshop?
And that I don't even have Photoshop on my computer? Right?!

Recent scholarly pursuits have brought my attention to the play Woyzcek by Büchner. In it, the titular character goes insane and murders the mother of his child, partially because due to a scientific experiment, his diet consisted only of peas. I know that time is not on our side, but Büchner, are you seriously not reading this blog? Don’t you realize that a strict pea diet could only lead to a life of pleasure and unmeasurable happiness? Don’t you understand that to consume a pea is to conjure up all of your loveliest childhood moments and to journey back to a time when your only worry was awaiting the arrival of the next wave of ripened peas?

In part, I suppose, the play speaks to the dehumanizing effects of medical and military apparatuses—but at what cost? What of the harm done to the gentle pea in the process? In calling into question these governing institutions, was it really necessary to strip away the beauty of the pea and to reduce this once noble pearl of the garden to nothing but an irritable grain of sand that claws away at your brain until you inevitably murder your wife with a blade procured from a wily Jew and commit suicide in a swamp? Büchner, you monster: look into your soul. You will find that the problem is not medicine or science or the military; the problem is you.

It’s probably only fair to mention that the peas in Woyzcek were probably canned.  I mean, of course they were canned peas, right?  It’s just that I never even think of canned peas as even existing, because who even eats those? 

It’s also probably worth mentioning that when I talk about eating garden peas, I mean eating them fresh.  I’ve had cooked garden peas before, and they’re good—better than cooked frozen peas—but whenever I eat them I feel this heavy sense of loss.  They’re so much better fresh.

The oyster creates the pearl of the sea
But the pearl of the land is the ripened pea
Both are divine, natural treasures
Both bring to me the purest of pleasures
But the pearl is merely vanity,
And I must listen to my stomach when it instead demands—
The pea! The pea! The pea!

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