"From the mouths of babes ..." expresses the idea that wisdom can come from the most unlikely sources, even today's youth.
I preface this piece with this thought because we are about to enter the realm of the middle school mind -- a complex organ finely honed on Cheetos and Mountain Dew.
(Middle school teachers, coincidentally, have always been my heroes, because they dare to go places rational humans avoid at all cost. It is a role, they themselves like to say, made easier by the fact that their own minds are just a tad off-center. Then they laugh maniacally and high-five one another.)
The Great Rim Country Middle School Food Fight, a subject recently explored in this column from another perspective, provides the impetus for our journey.
For those of you not familiar with this incident, here's a quick summation:
It all began when Dan Bowditch, the school district's head food guy, decided to make lunches more nutritious and less fattening.
The idea was to replace some unhealthy menu items (such as chicken nuggets, pizza, hot dogs and fries) with some healthy ones (like turkey and cheese sandwiches, rice, refried beans and mixed vegetables).
To add insult to injury, RCMS students were forced to eat egg salad sandwiches one day when the cafeteria ran out of another entree. And not just any old egg salad, but green egg salad.
One of the brave Food Fighters who organized a protest against the menu changes explained how the egg salad came to be green. "It was buried for 5,000 years and they dug it back up," she said.
Bowditch pointed out that since learning is supposed to be what goes on in schools, then this upgrade to nutritious food -- even nutritious food that is green -- is a good learning experience.
I think he's onto something, and I further think there are even more lessons to be gleaned from the green egg salad -- interdisciplinary lessons that cut across the entire middle school curriculum.
We begin with history because this is some really old egg salad. But if, in fact, this egg salad was buried 5,000 years ago, we have to turn back the clock through pre-history -- that era when the "Ancient Ones With Protrusions on the Backs of Their Heads the Size of Softballs" peopled the Rim country, to pre-pre-history -- an era when the Rim country was populated by dinosaurs. At this point we introduce deductive reasoning into our lesson.
We know that dinosaurs roamed the Rim country before the "Ancient Ones With Protrusions ..." and we can deduce that green dinosaurs would most likely lay the green eggs that might logically be used to make green egg salad.
We must conclude, however, that dinosaurs, like single guys, simply never achieved the culinary sophistication to make egg salad.
Further deductive reasoning leaves us with just one alternative -- the green egg salad was made by Martians. This assumption is based on the fact that many historians believe early civilizations in South America were aided and abetted by a superior intelligence. In fact, some of the ancient cities discovered deep in the jungles of the Amazon had what appear to be landing strips for flying saucers.
I cite the fact that Martians are generally considered to be little green guys as further evidence that we have, at last, come to the source of the green egg salad forced upon the students at Rim Country Middle School 5,000 years later.
Turning on our interdisciplinary journey to science, we introduce the scientific fact that the moon is made of green cheese.
By loosely applying the scientific method, I propose that what has appeared for centuries to be green cheese is actually green egg salad placed on the moon by the Martians much as the U.S. government stockpiles commodities like powdered milk that it buys from farmers as part of its subsidy program (and here we are incorporating lessons in both civics and agriculture).
We can only deduce that when the Martians roamed our planet, their middle school-aged children preferred mastodon burgers to egg salad, thus creating the surplus in the first place.
And we conclude our interdisciplinary journey with a moral that ties into Character Counts, the program that tries to apply the six pillars of character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship) to every lesson taught in our schools:
As good citizens who care, RCMS students must respect the Martians and their egg salad and accept responsibility for the surplus they have left us.
It's the fair thing to do, trust me.