Saturday, November 20, 2010

Peter, Peter, Onion Eater

I’ll get to the Peter part of this rant in a moment, but the onion issue has been plaguing my mind all day. And yes, onion and plague are two words that should be seen together a lot more than they are.

If you know me, or you’ve read enough of my interviews, you’ll know that I can’t stand onions. Can’t stand ’em! If you invite me over to dinner, I may very politely ask if a certain dish has onions in it. If you say, “Yes, but you won’t taste them,” I may politely ask, “Then why include them?” And if you respond, “For flavoring,” my head just might explode. (See, it’s that whole flavor of onions I don’t like.)

But something even more disturbing than the above dialogue is when restaurants completely ignore onions. I don’t like being a pessimist, so when a restaurant lists the ingredients of a dish and they don’t mention onions, I feel weird asking if it includes onions. For example, I ordered a tuna sandwich for dinner tonight. Here’s how they listed it on the menu:

As you’ll notice, the menu item above the tuna sandwich doesn’t list any ingredients at all. So if they’re going to go out of their way to list ingredients for another item, you’d think that list would be thorough. In fact, if they’re going to list an almost tasteless ingredient like celery, there’s no way they’d ignore something as pungent as purple onions.


Now onto the Peter part of this post.

(By the way, the main reason I’m writing this next section is because I can’t stand the thought of writing an entire post about onions. I needed to dilute this post with something less disgusting. And since the following topic popped up in a conversation when JoanMarie and I saw a poster for a local production, this is what you get.)

I love Peter Pan. The magic! The adventure! The Disney cartoon! The Disneyland ride! But I hardly ever enjoy the plays as much as I should enjoy them. Why? Because Peter is almost always played by a she.

I remember the first time I saw this play as I child. I knew the story very well and had seen the cartoon many times. So when Peter made his first appearance, I said, “Who’s she?” An adult leaned over and whispered, “That’s Peter Pan.” Even though I was a kid, I think I said something like, “What the hell is going on here?”

I know what you’re about to do. You’re about to leave a comment telling me why Peter needs to be played by a female. You’re thinking that, since Peter is supposed to be a boy who never grows up, it would look awkward if a grown man played him. Women play the part because their features are softer and their voices higher than a man’s. Therefore, women look and sound more like pre-pubescent boys. Yes, I have heard that explanation. But think about this. If Peter’s maturity and growth have been stunted at a certain age, requiring him to be played by a female, why is Wendy’s younger brother John always played by a male?

Bring it on!

I did some research, and no one seems to have a good answer for why we continue requiring adults to lean over and whisper, “That’s Peter,” thereby breaking the play’s spell. Some say the tradition began because women are typically lighter than men, making them easier to harness and hoist into the air during the flying scenes. But think about this. John and Michael (played by males) need to be harnessed and hoisted, too.

Bring it!

JoanMarie came up with what I think is the most likely answer to why this tradition started. “The audience would have a tougher time imagining Peter as a young boy if he was played by a man…in tights.”

Good point.


Anonymous said...

This is totally off subject from your blog post; however, I have to ask! Are you planning to write other books? I LOVED Thirteen Reasons Why, and I have passed it on to everyone I know. I read it aloud to my college class at the Ohio State University, and over HALF the class has gotten their hands on your book and finished it within a day or two. You are an amazing writer. It was such a powerful book, and as a future educator I hope you intend to write more so I can share your talent with my students! :)

Jay Asher said...

Thanks for spreading the word about my book, Ohio!

To answer your question: yes. And I can't wait for you to read my next book because I'm very excited about it. In fact, if you had somehow managed to frame your question using onions or Peter Pan, I would've told you all about it. (Well, probably not. But it would've been cool to see you try!)

I should be offering more details about my next project(s) very soon. So stay tuned...

alifeuncommon said...

I could not agree with you more.
I cannot stand onions, anything from the onion family, or garlic. This causes constant and obnoxious dialogue between myself and waiters, counter people and food labels.
Love your point about the contradiction between well you can't taste it and it's there for the flavor.
WTB? as my 13 year old daughter would say!!!

Jay Asher said...

WTB does WTB mean? Or maybe I'm not even using it correctly.

Claire Dawn said...

Hey! The Huffington Post included you on the list of Best Author Websites!


(And onions suck)

Claire Dawn said...

Here's a link in case you haven't seen it.

Laura Ludwig Hamor said...

I only read the onion part of your post so far, but I had to stop and comment!
My husband worked on an onion farm as a teenager... he won't look at them.

And since my son was about 7, he has been telling people he is allergic to onions! Which he is not. He claims that if he just says he doesn't like them or want them, restaurants and other moms still put them on his food or act like they don't know they are there. So he always says he is allergic, and then people take the no-onion rule more seriously!

no-onions is serious business in our house!

m. christine weber said...

I love onions. Not raw, mind you. But all warm and flavorful and Like those crunchy onion rings I chowed down on while waiting in line for Harry Potter? So good. And dried onions? I put them in everything. They're the nectar of the gods. ;-)

HOWEVER...I wholeheartedly agree with you on the Peter Pan thing. The first time I saw Mary Martin play Peter I felt traumatized. Then I just began laughing. 20+ years later? I'm still laughing...

Jay Asher said...

Claire, when I saw that, it caused much happy dancin'!

Laura, I usually have to claim allergies, too. Otherwise, they'll justify why the onions they use are different. Or they cut them different. Or cook them different. Or... **sigh***

I'm conflicted by your comment, Ms. Weber. I'm glad you get the Peter Pan ridiculousness. But you kinda went overboard with your onion praise. I needed to brush my tongue and rinse with Listerine, Scope, and motor oil after reading that nectar of the gods line.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the onion rings we ate in line for HP were heavenly, Jay. Honestly, you could have converted to the onion lovers if you had only given them a try. ;-)

And Peter Pan. I hope my children never go through the gender-bending trauma of the GIRL Pan. I'm still scarred from my childhood. Perhaps you should organize a proper play with an actual BOY playing the part? I'll come and see it!

And, I'm just guessing here, but could WTB mean where's the beef?

Sarah Miller said...

Dear fellow Peter Pan junkie,


J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan In and Out of Time

I'm only at the introduction, and already they have proposed a solution to the Peter-in-drag issue that I'm willing to believe.

Lily Cate said...

I have to admit, I love onions!

As to the Peter Pan she-male issue, we did the play in high school (with flying and everything!) and according to our director, Barrie always intended the role to be played by a 10 year old boy, but children weren't allowed in the theaters at that time, so the role was played by a woman, and it became a tradition, as many things do in the extra supersticious theatrical world.

It's kind of the opposite of the Shakespeare effect, where women weren't allowed onstage, so men played all the roles, and that led to roles of older women being written tounge-in-cheek for men, and now we still see directors casting men in those roles, because the jokes work better.

See also - all of Monty Python.

But Peter is still way better as a dude.