These are the salad days of my son and daughters, my nephews and nieces, not that they are cold and green, rather that it’s their heyday, their walk in the sun, although salad, like the heyday of the young, can quickly go from crisp and cool to limp and warm, in an East of Eden boxcar minute.
In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra is regretting her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar when she says,
…My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood…
Shakespeare uses the phrase salad days presumably to mean youthful and impulsive. Cleopatra’s words, “green” and “cold” suggest good qualities in salad and youthful dalliance.
Which leads me to another tossed salad, the offbeat love story of H.I. McDonough (Nicholas Cage) and Edwina (Holly Hunter), in the movie, Raising Arizona.
H.I. McDonough – voiceover (Nicholas Cage): These were the happy days, the salad days as they say. And Ed felt that havin’ a critter was the next logical step. It was all she thought about. Her point was that there was too much love and beauty for just the two of us and every day we kept a child out of the world was a day he might later regret havin’ missed.
The term salad days represents H.I. and Ed at the zenith of their youthful exuberance. I mean, after all, H.I. did rob a convenience store with a ladies panty on his head. That’s very cold and green.
These salad days remind me of the weddings of the past few years in our family and of weddings to come. I recently asked Karen, “Have you attended all of your nieces and nephews weddings so far?” There are 26 possible weddings…7 so far…Karen has made all 7, and has plans to attend 19 more, if invited.
It’s early in the day of cold and green for these youngsters, so much so that I’m changing the name, with all due respect to Bill Shakespeare. I’m changing the name from salad days to cake days, these days of love and marriage, of youth and odd behavior, and wedding cake. Besides, cake is sweeter and you can stick cake in the freezer and eat it a year later on it’s anniversary. Try that with salad.
In two weeks, we’ll be fork deep in icing on the wedding day of Brandon and Liz, and Liz will become Elizabeth Taylor, who once played Cleopatra in the eponymous movie. And I’ll do what I love to do at weddings. Dance and eat cake.
As for dancing, my skills are measured in pulses of bodily confusion, illustrated again with dialogue from “Raising Arizona,”
Gale (John Goodman): Everybody freeze. Everybody get down on the ground.
Old Man: Well which is it young feller? You want me to freeze or get down on the ground? I mean to say if’n I freeze I can’t rightly drop and if’n I drop I’m gonna be in motion.
That’s exactly how I dance…somewhere in between frozen and dropping to the ground.
Cake on the other hand is more natural. The last wedding cake I had was so good that I had it and I ate it too. I had always heard that you couldn’t do that, but I did.
Twenty-six salad and cake people, ages 16 to 35. Hmmm, we’ll eat a lot of cake in the coming years, and dance many strange dances.
Just think honey, only 19 more weddings to go. You better buy some dancing shoes and a silver fork because that’s a lot of cake and kemosabe. But it will be fun…we’ll dance like Justin Timberlake doing the Mambo Cakewalk while everyone watches and we won’t even care and then we’ll eat Italian wedding cake with coconut icing, but unlike Cleopatra, we won’t regret that dalliance one little bit, because these are after all, our cake days, when we dance with abandon and lick the icing from our fingers.