I have a birthday coming up, and a big one it is. Not quite the milestone of 60 or 65, but a significant number just the same. My first thought is that I ought to use this as a time of reflection, but then I remember that I’ve seen my reflection and it isn’t all that interesting.
I feel strongly that this should be a grown-up kind of birthday. By that I mean I have outgrown the “I want I want I want” birthdays of kidhoods, when October meant a chocolate cake, a new toy gun for the arsenal and a $10 bill from Grandma. Now, because I have reached a certain age – I’ll be 59 if you must know – I no longer have a list of what I want, mostly because I don’t want anything. I don’t eat cake, I still have a few of my toy guns and I can get my own $10 bill.
No, this is not the birthday of want. Instead it is the birthday of won’t. As in, I am old enough now to start naming the things I no longer intend to do.
Now that I am 59, or nearly so, I won’t eat broccoli.
On this I am following the lead of George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, who in 1990 declared that he was never wanted to see broccoli on his plate again.
”I do not like broccoli,” he said, “and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”
President Bush was 65 when he made that declaration, so perhaps I’m jumping the gun a little. I don’t care. I don’t like broccoli, either, and even if I’m not president, I’m done with it.
Now before you broccoli lovers start lecturing me about how good it is and how good it is for you, let me point out that I eat plenty of other vegetables, including most of the examples from the same plant family, the brassicas (from the Latin for “who passed gas?”).
I love cabbage. I love cauliflower (until you cook it, in which case no thanks). I love Brussels sprouts (but only if they’re roasted with olive oil and plenty of salt until the outer leaves get brown and crunchy). I’m partial to kohlrabi, fond of mustard greens, adore collards and have been known to make a pig of myself on turnips and turnip greens. I think that should get me a pass on eating the one member of the genus that tastes to me like a big old mouthful of green unpleasantness.
Besides, broccoli lovers, with me out of the way that’s just more for the rest of you. At some point a man has to put down his size 12 foot and make a declaration about who he is. This is that time. I am Mike Redmond and I am a guy who does not eat broccoli, and that is that. It’s on the won’t list, and there it shall stay.
Oh, I also won’t go to dinner parties anymore. For one thing, they’re boring. For another, you see a lot of broccoli at them. I bet President Bush feels the same way.