This country has reached an all time low. Last night I was at the grocery store and the check-out fellow didn’t know what rhubarb is.
What kind of system denies a young man the pleasure of rhubarb and custard? Or rhubarb crumble, cobbler, pie?
Did he never have the opportunity to recline beneath the plant’s big leaves and fantasize about married life with a wife who cooks rhubarb in his own special ramekin?
Or nights of stems cleaned and diced and a bubbling goulash on the burner, the aroma thick and inviting and his wife desperately trying to seduce him to a sordid rendezvous on the family couch.
Or his private stash suddenly gone from the fridge and the kids conveniently at a friend’s house, his wife complaining of a headache.
Or his coveted patch of wild rhubarb where he would go and try to put to music Blake’s “Songs Of Innocence” but end up humming a few bars of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
Or making a rudimentary shirt out of the leaves and being mistaken for a member of the Dock family.
Or tickling his wife with a French variety because he had read Anais Nin’s recipe for hot rhubarb sauce.
Or sneaking off to the shed at the bottom of the garden with cooking books that illustrated scandalous ways to cook rhubarb.
Or hiding luscious, full-spread photos of the plant in all its bright red glory behind a copy of the latest bestseller on the train to work.
Or tiptoeing down to his own cluster of rhubarb growing in the garden and tenderly stroking the stems under moonlight, whispering loving words to the plants and then talking dirty to the radish and carrots.
Or eating the bitter and tart young stems in the hopes of hallucinating and writing a fragmentary vision like Coleridge did with “Kubla Khan” after the poet had experimented with rhubarb peyote.
What kind of man is that young guy going to turn out to be?