What Exactly Are The "Salad Days"?
Riffing on a Shakespearean phrase about youth
I've never really understood the term “salad days.” I always assumed it was supposed to mean the time when you were so poor that you could only afford to eat salad, but salads are pretty expensive so my theory doesn't make sense. Unless you're just eating a head of lettuce. I guess that's a fairly cheap way to go. After a little research, I discovered that “salad days” was actually first coined by Shakespeare in Antony and Cleopatra to describe youthful innocence. Ah, youthful innocence. Is there any other kind of youth? Probably not, but enough small talk. Let's get back to eating.
My salad days were actually full of pretty good food. I was working super long hours at an assistant-level job on a hit sitcom and that meant I ate at the studio for almost every meal. When I wasn't working, I was eating with my girlfriend at the time – an incredible girl who loved food as much as I did (especially cheese) – and we did our best to reconcile our lack of funds with our food obsession.
This thinking about salad days all started because my computer's Mail program ambushed me last week. I was syncing all of my old email accounts so I'd have everything in one place, and out of nowhere, I was blindsided by emails from my ex-ex that were sent during our first years in Los Angeles together. It's amazing how our collective past relationships can now be accessed so easily through one's vast personal digital archives.
The experience of seeing those emails was like reading a two-person diary. It was all there: old jokes, forgotten fights, grandiose plans that were eventually abandoned. There was the email she sent me about the family-style dinner at the little Greek place that ended up being so much fun (despite an ill-advised belly dancer). There were the countless back-and-forth chains about what to make for dinner – followed by the countless apology emails that I'd be working late yet again. And there was our first email after the breakup where we tried to pretend that we didn't just let five years disappear. It was like a Museum of Lost Relationships and I was having a private showing.
Looking back at all those past emails reveals a very different person than I am today. I've replaced much of the bravado with actual confidence, most of the idealism with real experience and a better understanding of the world around me. One constant remains, though. I'm still searching for the perfect person to accompany me on my life's journey. Until now, I've been a bus driver of sorts; picking people up and letting them off. I'm looking to downsize from my bus. A sensible sedan, perhaps, with room for kids. Or maybe just a two-seater for now. Not a Miata, though. That would symbolize a different path entirely.
Back when I was a brand-new Angeleno, I thought I was going to marry that ex-ex-girlfriend. I really did. Like most things in this city, though, it didn't work out and I'm okay with that. I'm older now and in a much better place to accept my perfect match. My salad days are over and now I'm ready for the entree.