The Perfect Salad
by shawn misener
Several years ago I made the perfect salad.
Place: The teacher’s lounge, where over-stressed and decompressed educators “unwind”, a place where school politics are carried out through teeth slathered in ranch and tongues layered in soda pop. It was there that I composed this salad, this unremarkable vegetarian dish that originally had nothing going for it.
“Now, that’s a salad!” exclaimed teacher number one, a slimy economics instructor, one hand on my back and the other fishing out a hard-boiled egg from a deep plastic well.
I replied with some sort of unintelligible mumble and a tiny fake smile. It seemed silly to me that he would comment on my plain little salad.
Further down the lunch line: “I need to make a salad like THAT one!” Another strangely enthusiastic teacher, a female gym lackey this time, her eyes wide and fixed on my apparently magnificent creation. This time I laughed.
“I don’t see what’s so great about it.” I said, shrugging.
She was a little taken aback by my statement. Over her shoulder, and not without a hearty dose of defense, she said “It just looks good, that’s all.”
So I sat at the long faux-wood lunch table and endured yet another comment by the physics teacher, but I didn’t really hear it because I was already deeply enthralled by the mystery of the salad. I checked out the ingredients: iceberg lettuce, cheddar, tomatoes, croutons, ranch dressing, and cucumber slices. Nothing special.
EAT, I thought. Eat it and the mystery will go away.
As the spork began it’s descent into the greenery I saw it. I saw, with clean eyes, the majesty, the grace, and the revelation that was my salad manifesto.
Everything about the salad was perfectly symmetrical, a flawless mound of food. Not a cucumber misplaced. Not a drop of ranch without an identical brother on the opposite side of the hill. Tomatoes lined the base of the mountain with the rigidity of army battalions.
This is truly amazing, I thought. And I made this?
So I stared transfixed on this mound for a few minutes, when I suddenly realized that people not only appreciated the symmetry, but they also saw the subconscious image of a mother’s breast invoked by the salad. It was beautiful because it was a tit, perfect and round, with a wet cherry tomato nipple to boot. And whether you are a boy or a girl, we all love them, and miss them. They remind us of our innocent childhoods, and for many of us thatâ€˜s a good thing.
What a salad, I thought, destroying itâ€™s shrubby side with a spork.
The Perfect Salad