Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Labels Are For Jars, Not People...

***This blog is going to be filled with metaphorical, idiomatic language that probably will make sense to no one but me.  For this, I apologize, and I hope I can wrap this blog up into a nice, neat bow at the end.  *grin*

I used to carry the following picture as an avatar at a message board I frequented:

My tag line under my avatar said:  "Hates boxes..."  As in, don't put me in a box...don't shove your "labels" at (the figurative you) don't get to define me.  Only I get to do that.

In my work, I deal with labels constantly and for every child I see.  "Child A has a language disorder".  "Child B is Mentally Retarded".  (ugh)  "Child B has Autism". 

Label, label, label, label.

We all do it in our every day lives as well.

"Joe is a gay man".  "Jen is a lesbian".  "Sue is a Christian".  "Reverend Falwell is a bigot". 

Labels define, yes.  But, a label can also be used to segregate, demean, or in some cases, labels give permission for people to be discriminated against. 

My "lesbian label" allows my country to deny me equal rights. 

The (personal) negative connotations associated with labels allow otherwise harmless words to be turned into weapons.  (Think of how the term "gay" is used to bully amongst children)

I'll step off my personal soapbox now and tell a short story...

Yesterday, I made fish tacos for dinner.  I love fish tacos.  I was so excited to make them for my family.  When I went grocery shopping on Monday, I selected a nice bunch of cilantro for yesterday's taco recipe.  The cilantro was to be used in several aspects of the dish.

I came home from work, slipped into my cooking pants (a pair of pink flamingo printed shorts...don't hate...), and got to cooking!  I first made a tequila lime aioli.  Sounds yummy, no?  I chopped my fresh cilantro and threw it into the aioli.  I dipped my finger in the aioli and didn't taste quite right.  But, the recipe called for the aioli to sit for an hour, so I stuck it in the fridge and moved on.

I marinated my tilapia.  (no cilantro there...but there was tequila...holla!)  And then I made fresh pico de gallo.  I chopped up more fresh cilantro and threw it in!  I grabbed a spoon of pico to taste...and *gag*.  It tasted disgusting.  Sort of like soapy shit. 

I glanced at the "cilantro", and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small, white label wrapped around the stems of the greens.  It said "fresh parsley".  Como se what?  Parsley?  I didn't get parsley.  The parsley was on the top shelf of the produce section.  The cilantro was all the way at the bottom.  My cilantro was incorrectly labeled. 

I pouted.  It was a struggle to contain myself.  Who's watched the movie "Julie and Julia"?  In the movie, "Julie" is having difficulty making one of Julia Child's recipes.  She throws a bit of a temper tantrum, throwing herself on the floor, collapsing in a heap of tears.  I had visions of myself on my kitchen floor kicking and screaming.  I was so excited for this meal...and I'd been craving it for days. 

I emerged from the kitchen and went straight to UncleR.  "Babe, the cilantro was labeled wrong.  I got parsley".  It took all of my energy not to scream and cry.  I had no fresh cilantro...and not only was it supposed to be in the pico de gallo and aioli, but it was in a cabbage mixture I had yet to make.  And worse yet, the componenets that I had made with the parsley tasted horrible.

I remade the portions of the dish that I had made incorrectly with...wait for it...dried cilantro.  The fish tacos were a bust.  Without this one component of the dish, everything tasted disgusting. 

At the end of the meal, UncleR looked at me and said:  "The fish was really good."  And then she smiled meekly.  I love her.

The kid gave the following review when asked how he liked the fish tacos:  "Ummmm, they weren't good."  *sigh*

I'm figuring that the parsley was placed in the wrong was labeled wrong...all was with the cilantro when it shouldn't have been.

What's the lesson here?

Be careful when labeling things (people) and beware of tossing something in the wrong'll make your fish tacos taste like soapy shit.

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