I sometimes wonder if I’m plagued with one of those alphabet disorders like “OCD” or “ADD” that are favorite topics of morning talk shows. Or maybe the wiring in my brain temporarily short-circuits, causing the bimbo wires to mingle and override the common sense wires. Usually I come to the conclusion that my reasoning abilities have simply expanded their creative horizons.
Regardless of the underlying cause, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese seems to trigger a response that makes me assign human characteristics to macaroni.
Many of us have personified an inanimate object by pointing out the “shapely legs” of a chair, or by calling an old pickup truck “a good old girl,” but I’ve expanded the bounds of anthropomorphism one step further. I act as though dried pasta has feelings.
This eccentricity happens when I open a box of macaroni and pour the contents into a pot on the stove. I imagine the stranded pieces of pasta, glued to the bottom of the box, are devastated at being left behind while their box mates go on to seek their destinies; tumbling and boiling together, soon to be a satisfying meal for hungry diners. I feel sorry for the macaroni left behind and find myself ripping open the box to free them, scraping away the remnants of glue and cardboard, then pushing them onto their boiling center stage.
These elbow-shaped tubes have been together since they were first extruded from Kraft’s giant pasta machines, then spread onto conveyor belts to dry. Can’t you just see the blue and yellow Kraft boxes, newly crimped and formed, jockeying for position; their labels facing the same direction, ready to be filled with newly made macaroni? One by one, cheese packets are added, boxes are sealed, then packed into larger boxes for shipping. By the time the macaroni reach my stove, I imagine how disappointed these pasta orphans must be, stuck to the bottom of the box and denied their birthright of being “the cheesiest.”
Maybe I’ve watched too many dancing boxes of popcorn and singing colas while waiting for a movie to start. However, I take comfort in something the great architect, Louis Kahn, said. “A brick wants to be something more than a brick. It wants to be a great building.” Macaroni wants to be more than a dried glutinous mass. It wants to be a meal, amazing and creamy until the last bite.
I remember confessing my feelings about macaroni to James. He said, “Bimbos and macaroni have a lot in common. They both want to be more than they are, but their brains are stuck to the bottom of the box.”