Sunday, May 6, 2007

Who is that Green Man?

Who Is That Green Man?

"Don't do that," said my wife at 6:35 in the morning as I started to fill the tea kettle with water from the tap.

"Coffee," I gently reminded her. "It's good."

She shook her head. "Let the water run for a minute first thing every morning. Gets the lead out of the pipes," she added helpfully, as I continued to stare at her.

"Don't do this," I said. "It's too early to be green."

"It's never too early." She yawned. "Besides, I don't want you to get Alzheimer's from lead poisoning. Don't want to have to change your diapers for 20 years."

"Ah, there it is: the self-interest principle at work. Adam Smith would be proud of you."

"Who's Adam Smith?"

"The Scottish economist who called self-interest the invisible hand of the marketplace? The inventor of the idea of a consumer-regulated free market? You don't know who he is?"

"Oh, that Adam Smith." She yawned, a gape so grand I saw tonsil cleavage. "I haven't had my coffee yet."

"And why is that, Mrs. Green Goddess?"

"It's been over a minute now. Fill the kettle."

The teenager staggered silently past. There was a crash as he fell into the living room sofa. I broke an egg into the little Teflon frying pan.

"I wish you wouldn't use that pan," she said.

"Stop," I said, cutting the Grafton cheddar.

"Just for him. He's still growing. For us, it's okay, the Teflon won't make any difference."


"Teflon's fine, it's just that when a pan gets old and degrades it gets into your food. Chemicals from Teflon wind up in your blood stream. In studies this has been shown..."

I put a mug of coffee in her hand. "Go. Away."

When it was ready the teenager got up off the sofa to eat his home-made Egg McMuffin: organic whole wheat English muffin, natural additive feed-free egg, sharp cheddar cheese from Grafton, nitrite-free Canadian bacon. I paused to admire my handiwork, because this was as close as I would get to having any. (She wants me to lose ten pounds; an "experiment," she calls it, which almost always translates into nothing fun for breakfast, and no desserts.)

Back in the kitchen, I made myself a bowl of Special K, sliced a banana, poured skim milk. By the time I sat down at the table, the Green Goddess had finished her coffee and was back in the kitchen making a second pot, while the teenager was done eating and had gone off to shower, leaving me alone with the sports page and my first cup of the day. It was organic Mexican shade tree half-caf, and not half-bad.

The teenager left for school. The wife left for a meeting, but gave me a fanny pat before she went. "My green man," she said. "I'll pick up a pie for dessert at the farmer's market."

The system works, I thought. Maybe Adam Smith was on to something.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Green Man threw out the Teflon pan. The above photo contains nothing but good honest steel.
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