11.27.2006

Salad Person

I'm in Chicago the other day, walking in front of a couple of guys who seem to be in the getting-to-know-you phase. They're talking; I'm looking for scraps of paper on the street and listening in:


guy 1: What kind of food do I like? Oh, you know. Oh no wait: you're not a salad person, are you?
guy 2: Yeah, I'm a salad person.
guy 1: You're a salad person? Really?
guy 2: Yeah, I'm totally a salad person.
guy 1: Oh, I think I knew that. I'm sorry. Well anyway ...

This raises the obvious question of what a "salad person" is. This ad on Craig's list reminds us that one meaning of the term, though clearly not the one these guys were operating with, is literally the person in a restaurant who makes the salads. When I used to work in restaurants, I always loved what we then referred to as the salad guy, mainly because his work was always invisible to me. I'd drop the salad orders and, cha-zing!, three or four or seven salads would appear at the pick-up station. But anyway.

The other thing I would guess the term "salad person" refers to is "one who eats salads." This then seems to require the term non-salad-person—but does this suggest zero salad consumption? Like ever? My good friend TT is, I think, the ultimate salad person, and this is because he not only eats plenty of salads but because he makes the best salads. TT works on pure inspiration in the salad department. Thus, if TT was involved in this conversation he might have needed to have responded "Yeah, I'm a salad person. And not just any salad person, an uber salad person."

I'm blogging about this not because of salads and entirely because of the popularity of the terminological combo:

_______ + person


Teaching in an English department, one constantly hears "math-or-science-person" in opposition to "English-person." And teaching document design and typography as part of argumentation, I frequently run up against students claiming "I'm not an art person," thus rendering them (or so they claim!) unable to incorporate new elements into their rhetoric.

"________ + person" seems to me to circulate as a way of linguistically sorting and limiting ourselves. It's a categorization that, I fear, keeps us from eating our greens.

UPDATE: 275 hits for the collocational phrase "not a salad person" via Google. Some of them are kind of funny. "Not a morning person," by comparison, shows up 244,000 times. See other examples of "not a * person" via this wild-card search.

2 comments:

  1. katka2:14 PM

    William Safire, eat your heart out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. (as long as it involves salad)

    ReplyDelete