Overly Astute Four-Year-Old Expresses Skepticism Over Mother’s Explanation of Chlorophyll


So we were driving along, chatting about poop or, more specifically, what can make poop green. (Don’t you love a story that starts that way?)

Alarmed earlier in the day, I had consulted the internet and among the short list of perpetrators are excess bile, food coloring, and green veggies. I decided it was the food coloring in the sprinkles on the cut-out cookies Mbot had helped make after breakfast.  Mbot decided he had eaten too much broccoli, which he likes to eat but tends to whine about while it’s cooking because of the odor. He decided that food coloring makes broccoli green.

No, I explained. Something called chlorophyll makes broccoli and other plants green. “Chlorophyll can turn sunshine into nutrients,” I said brightly. “It’s kind of like magic. So when we eat broccoli, we’re really eating sunshine!”

Mbot paused, then asked in a voice that betrayed his suspicion: “You mean when I smelled broccoli, I really smelled sun?”

“Kind of!” I chirped.

At least he didn’t make the next connection, which would be: if broccoli smells like sun, and broccoli turns into green poop, then does sun smell like poop?

It’s a question for another day.

5,000 Miles With 40,000 Pounds of Frozen Broccoli and My Dad

All broccoli appears harmless. (www.wikiality.wikia.com)

It is easier to tell what’s wrong with someone else’s work than what’s wrong with your own. I have spent several years editing, first cookbooks, then engineering proposals for potato processing plants. This week I received a manuscript draft from one of my favorite writers, former newspaper reporter Sarah Wolfgang, who’s now teaching English at Barry University. She’s writing a book with the working title Freakin’ Streakin’, about spending two weeks in a long haul refer truck with her dad, and how she got there. Here’s an excerpt:

I spotted Dad organizing sugar packets at a window table.

“So what’s goin’ on with you?” I asked, dropping into the waiting, empty chair. He patted the last packet into the container and shook his head. “Man, I totally f—ed up.”

“Why? What?”

“Well …Y’know that Darth Vader email attachment I’ve sent you before?”

Darth Vader: Your powers are weak, old man.

Ben (Obi-wan) Kenobi: You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

“Yeah. Well, I sent my résumé to about a half a dozen places and accidentally attached it.”

“’You serious?” I said, shaking my head. I glanced out the window but saw the hovering coffee pot approaching and flipped my mug. “Guess this means I’ll be buying us breakfast for a while then, huh?”

It did. Of course it was a shitty thing to have happened, but it was also a great f—ing story to tell. I think I was even a little jealous that it hadn’t happened to me.

And there you have it, the sign of a natural-born storyteller. You wish something bad had happened to you. Because every event is grist for the mill, chaff to be turned into wafers for the Eucharist.

Nora Ephron’s parents were both screenwriters, and she was raised thinking of everything that happened around her as material.

I am no Nora Ephron, and I was raised by a surgeon and a former operating room nurse. It was with eyes darting sideways that I surreptitiously took notes of whatever drama unfolded around me. Sometimes I still feel uncomfortable scribbling in a notebook. I am not in a war zone. I am not on the staff of The New York Times. But if broccoli can be cryovacked, move through space at 75 miles-per-hour, and achieve a tasty afterlife, then surely there is hope for the detritus of daily life.

It’s all in the packaging.

How do you transcend yourself?