Have you ever rued the day?
To rue is to feel regret or remorse for something. But it is more than that. The spirit behind it has some serious oooomph….. when you rue the day.
Rue comes from the Old English word hreowan, meaning “to make sorry.”
But one little word can sure sum up a whole-big-lot of sorrow in just a tiny syllable. Rue seems to have a profound way of looking back on the past. Our boy Bill Shakespeare made it famous when he scribed…. “rue the day.”
He threw the “rue” around in several of his works…. always meaning that someone will bitterly regret a moment.
I only bring this up because the Summer BBQ Season is on the fringe.
When I was a kid, I loved the summer grill-out season. The big picnics were few and far between. They were special. Like maybe Memorial Day, or my Dad’s birthday in July. I’m not really sure. But the entire family would gather and everyone would bring a dish. There would be the normal go-tos on the grill. Burgers, Hotdogs. I would always choose the Cheeseburger, without fail. Never a Hotdog. The only dilemma might arise if there was a perfectly grilled Brat for the offering. A white Brat. Seven-year-olds develop highly discerning tastes. Those were hard choices, I tell you.
But going past the main grill-event….. is where the real magic started. The carry-in. And this is what I loved about it. You could always count on the Usual Suspects back then. The Big Four. Potato Salad. Cole Slaw. Baked Beans. Macaroni Salad. Sometimes Green Beans. Sometimes Mac’n’Cheese. But I seriously loved the Big Four.
My favorite was my Mom’s Macaroni Salad. Nothing fancy-smancy. Just macaroni, Hellman’s mayo, dill pickles, hard boiled eggs, salt and pepper. That was it. Perfectly designed. Magic in a bowl. In a great big bowl.
And I would pile up my little plate with mounds of the Macaroni Salad, positioned like tall mountains surrounding Lake Cheeseburger.
AND. Then. Then the day came. Someone, at some point, brought a Seven Layer Salad. “What is this?” we all asked with great curiosity, as we clamored around the buffet table. What is this large bowl of food-stuff encroaching on The Big Four? And one of my Aunts, or older cousins…. said…. “Oh. It is the newest thing. It is wonderful. It is called a Seven Layer salad. First you put down a layer of iceberg lettuce, then comes a layer of onions. Next is a layer of thawed frozen peas… next is… blah blah blah.”
It all goes blurry at that point. I think I fainted.
I RUE THE DAY that the Seven Layer Salad was born. From that point on, there was no turning back. The Big Four started to fade from the limelight. The Macaroni Salad was the first to go.
It all transcended into “Pasta Salad.” Wait. WHAT? Pasta Salad? How in the holy-heck did we get to this? Where’s the macaroni, what on earth is Rotini doing at this party,…. multi-colored Rotini at THAT…. and why is there Italian Dressing in puddle on the bottom of this bowl? Are those snap peas? What the….
I moaned. I wept. I ached with contempt.
Honest to goodness… things like Broccolini started showing up. And Ramen Noodles. And before you knew it… good old fashioned Macaroni Salad was extinct like the dinosaur.
To this day… I am saddened. Even right now … I feel a little empty inside. And hungry.
Oh, I know. Life brings change. It is inevitable. And. Change can be good. Sometimes, though… change can be bad. Point in case. I just skipped over to Recipes.com and searched “Pasta Salad” which then returned 1004 hits. I found Chicken Club Pasta Salad. Awesome Pasta Salad. Greek Surprise Pasta Salad… Pasta Salad ala Honey Bear… and on, and on, and on, and on. It all just went Recipe-Gone-Wild.
Every time my oldest brother comes in to town, I asked him to make Macaroni Salad. And he does. I love him for that.
And I guess that is the “something” about all of this. Even though something goes away, our love for that thing may not ever fade. Our memories will often stay very much alive. It can be true of events from our past. Or more importantly, it can be said of the people in our lives who aren’t here any longer.
So if you have the chance to have your bowl of Macaroni Salad, eat it up. Savor every last bite.
And for the people in your life? Love them while they are still here at the picnic.
“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
― Alfred Tennyson
“We love the things we love for what they are.”
― Robert Frost