Idea for column suddenly takes root

Idea for column suddenly takes root By Bob Karolevitz "What'll I write about today?" I asked Phyllis plaintively. "For 914 consecutive weeks I've covered just about everything I can think of," I moaned.

"You've never written about onions," she replied through her tears. (She was slicing one for a salad she was making.)

"I suppose onions have universal appeal," I said, "but I don't think I can stretch the subject into column length."

"Well, for one thing, you can tell how you started eating them again," she went on, dabbing her eyes with a dish towel as she spoke.

I was desperate, of course, as my deadline approached. I'll give it a try, I thought. At least it's a germ of an idea.

And so I wrote:

For 10 years I dutifully followed a doctor's suggestion. I ate onionless hamburgers and shunned French onion soup as I did what I could to overcome a little gastronomical problem. Then one evening it happened.

We were sitting in a restaurant near a friend who had double-ordered fried onion rings, way more than he and his companion could eat. Generously he offered a plateful to us.

At first I was going to refuse the gesture, but being a frugal sort (Phyllis calls it tight), I accepted, even though I feared I'd be sitting up on the edge of the bed that night.

My first nibble was cautious; then I plunged in. Man, those onion rings tasted oh so good!

To heck with the doctor, I said, as Phyllis and I finished the last Vidalia morsel. I didn't get heartburn, and that night I slept like a baby without colic.

Since then I've eaten every leek, scallion, shallot and bulb of the family Liliaceae without serious effect. After all, I've got a lot of time to make up.

No longer does Phyllis have to be selective of recipes which don't include onions. She can stir-fry to her heart's content with chives in her wok.

In my research I learned that Ogg, the caveman, ate onions in prehistoric times. So did Chinese, Egyptians and Spaniards of another generation. I didn't find the cousin of the lily mentioned in the Bible, but Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about "garleek and onyns" in Merrie Olde England back in the 1300s. I'm happy to report that today onions � including my favorite Walla Walla sweets � are grown the world over.

And that's when I ran out of material to write about!

"See Phyllis, I told you I couldn't squeeze a whole column out of onions," I complained.

"You haven't mentioned the pungent smell or how they make your eyes water," she offered. "Surely that would be worth a paragraph or two."

Then I remembered that William Shakespeare in A Midsummer-Night's Dream said: "Eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath."

Even back then they knew that you'd better watch your diet if you wanted to make friends or woo a maiden. They didn't have Sen-Sen or Clorets either.

I agree with Shakespeare that the tasty bulb does have that odoriferous drawback. On the other hand, onion breath is better than no breath at all!

Well, what do you know? There was a column there just like Phyllis said.

2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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