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Monday, July 22, 2013

Jesus Cracks Corn

I was driving from my office in Millsboro through Dagsboro, on my way to Fenwick Island to see a few Hospice patients when I heard Flat Jesus say, "Wait. Stop. Pull over. I want to see this."

We were on a back road. Well, in this part of Sussex County, they're all back roads. You can drive for miles and miles and miles with nothing but corn growing on either side of you.  It can feel like a scene out of "Grapes of Wrath".

We had just turned off Daisy Road onto Gum Rd in Dagsboro, about 5 miles from Zion Church Rd, right near Roxana - and my favorite little country church, "The Sanctified Church of Christ" - about 7 miles from our destination in a skilled nursing facility on Fenwick Island and Selbyville.

Jesus wanted a closer look at the corn.

"It's beautiful," he exclaimed on closer examination. "And, brilliant! You know how I supposedly once said, 'In my father's house there are many rooms'?" he asked. "Well, I should have added, "... and a whole lot of different kinds of vegetables.'

"This," he said,  "is clearly one is one of God's best efforts."

"Consider," said Flat Jesus, "it feeds people and animals. I don't eat meat (which surprised me), but I understand 'corn fed beef' is absolutely the best. And, it is used to make cornmeal, corn starch, corn syrup, corn oil, grits, and even corn cob pipes.  You can also make corn bread, corn pudding and corn pone - or, as they call it in some places, "Johnnycake"."

"Originally," he noted, in a surprisingly scholarly tone, "corn was cultivated in Mexico 7,000 years ago - long before I was born - and corn is now America's biggest crop and a staple of the global food supply. Corn feeds millions and millions of people around the world."

The guy maybe flat, but he's a veritable font of information.

"And, of course," he continued, "steep corn liquor is the perfect medium in which to grow large quantities of penicillin. Did you know that corn starch is the main ingredient in biodegradable plastic? Corn is a renewable resource, and is seen as a replacement for fossil fuels. But, wait," he said, "There's more!"

"Tea brewed from corn silk is used as a remedy for urinary tract infections, as it has diuretic properties. And, you should know this" he noted with a sober tone but a distinct twinkle in his eye, "whiskey is distilled from corn."

"Why would I know that?" I asked.

"Because you're Episcopalian, right?"

"Well, yes," I said. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Because," he said, choking on a giggle, "Wherever three or four Episcopalians are gathered, there's always a fifth."

I rolled my eyes. He cleared his throat. We continued.

"I absolutely love tortillas and tacos and fajita. You can also steam it or grill it and just eat corn right on the cob, with butter and salt and pepper. Or, you can cook it and shave the corn off and add it to salads and soups and salsa and casserole dishes."

"And, " he added, "how can anyone watch a movie without pop corn?"

"So, with all those uses of corn," I asked, "Why aren't these farmers millionaires?"

And, Jesus wept.

"You know," he said, wiping his eyes and starting to giggle just a little, "Some of the BEST jokes in the world are described as 'corny'. I mean, they are really the only ones that make me laugh."

"Like what?" I asked.

That was a mistake.

Flat Jesus asked, "Why shouldn't you tell a secret on a farm?"

"I'm, I dunno," I said.

"Because the potatoes have eyes and the corn has ears. "
Jesus was holding his sides and snorting though his nose.
I turned my head so he wouldn't see me roll my eyes.
"Oh, wait. Wait. I got another one. Listen to this one," he said, "What does moldy corn flakes have in common with Charles Manson?"
"I'm afraid to ask," I said, but, "since you're Flat Jesus ..... "
"They are both Cereal Killers!"
And suddenly he was laughing so hard he fell off the corn cob he was sitting on.
I tried not to look sick, but he was on a roll - as it were - and could not stop himself.
"Okay, okay, so check this one out," he said.
"One day two corn cobs, who were best friends, were walking together down the street. They stepped off the curb and a speeding car came around the corner and ran one of them over. The uninjured corn cob called 911 and helped his injured friend as best he was able. The injured corn cob was taken to emergency at the hospital and rushed into surgery. After a long and agonizing wait, the doctor finally appeared. He told the uninjured corn cob, "I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is that your friend is going to pull through." "The bad news is that he's going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life".

Flat Jesus was laughing so hard, I thought he was going to pop right out of his laminate casing.

"You know," I said, "we really have to go. We're going to be late for our next patient." 

"Listen," Flat Jesus said, "If you're going to do this job, you have to lighten up. Actually, "he said, "if you want to get through all the injustice and suffering and pain in the world, you HAVE to lighten up. Take some time to smell the flowers. Look at the corn. Laugh at corny jokes."

"Haven't you ever heard that laughter is the best medicine?" he asked.
"If one of the guys didn't write that down in one of the Gospels, they really slipped up."

"Actually," I said, "that's not in one of the Gospels, but I think one of your disciples said it, years later, somewhere along the line. Or, you know, come to think of it, I think somebody said it centuries before you were born."

"Good," said Flat Jesus, "The whole world could learn a lesson from corn." 

"Really?" I said, getting back into the car, happy for the air conditioning.
"Know that you are enough to feed the world - in many different ways and, in all of your many and wonderful variates. You won't ever get the proper credit for that, and it probably won't make you rich, but you can also make them laugh. Which, in the end, is the best medicine."

You know, it's hard to argue with Flat Jesus.

Especially since he's gotten famous


Marthe said...

Not to be all quibble-ey or anything, but corn is a grain, not a vegetable ... sooooooo no wonder your chat with Phlat Jesus got a tad silly (oh, and i dooo endorse silliness) ... ah, the grains of truth, the trickle of sand through the hourglass, grainy photos on the Post Office wall... yadda, yadda, yadda.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jesus told me to Google it, so I did.

Bottom line from the article from Marvin P. Pritts, chairman of the department of horticulture at Cornell University.

“The criteria is whether it comes from the reproductive part of a plant or the vegetative part of the plant,” Dr. Pritts said. “If it comes from the reproductive part of the plant, it’s a fruit. If it comes from the vegetative part of the plant, it’s a vegetable.”

"Botanically speaking, corn is a caryopsis, or dry fruit — popularly known as a grain.

Dr. Pritts allowed that corn, like a tomato, is eaten like a vegetable, “so to a normal, everyday person, it’s a vegetable.”

I told all this to Jesus.

He giggled.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Flat Jesus also just reminded me that Corn is another way to talk about the Trinity. It's a vegetable, a fruit and a grain.

Are we having fun yet?

Marthe said...

Since when are either you or Jesus "normal" or "everyday"? Who are you and where have they taken the real EK?
And then there is rhubarb ... all stalky, but red (the most popular varieties, anyway), so treated as a fruit, but not really one at all ... so much for the behavior of "normal" people ... but it makes a pretty good wine if you know how to do it and the J of fame did endorse turning stuff into wine .... :-)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I know, right? I'm assuming Dr. Pritts is from the midwest where everyone and everything is considered "normal" and "everyday". Obviously, he doesn't know about me or you - or Jesus.

I don't know how to make wine out of rhubarb, but I have made a knock-your-socks off strawberry rhubarb pie. And, in terms of a vegetable that's really a fruit, I make a great tomato jam, if I do say so myself.

Hmmm.... tomato wine? Nah, I don't think so.

Marthe said...

What? You haven't heard of grape tomatoes? And yes, yes there is such a thing as tomato wine ... see ... apparently just about anything can be wine-ified by sufficiently motivated humans.

Matthew said...

methinks Flat Jesus needs a drink!

Muthah+ said...

You both have gone around the bend.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - Well, I'm not so sure I'll be drinking any tomato wine any time soon (I had some Palm Wine in Ghana once and that cured my curiosity for a while.)

But pass the grape tomatoes. Love 'em.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - Flat Jesus and I will be having some wine with dinner, thank you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Muthah+ It was bound to happen, don't you think?

Marthe said...

Oh, Mutha+ ... not speaking for EK, but yes, yes I have gone round the bend and through the weeds past the lilies of the field and under the bridge (which upset the resident trolls quite dramatically) past the forest primeval, waded through the slough of despond to the left of the primrose path, round another bend or two ... and where did it all lead to? Just here. No medications needed. Just here.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe - I'm right with you. So is Muthah+. She's just living in TX now. It's hard for her to tell. LOL.