Sometimes when I come to bed, Michael has arranged himself in such a way that the pillow looks like a chef's hat. It's quite humorous to me, and when that pillow formation forms, I have taken to calling him Chef Boyardee. Last night as I approached the bed, there the Chef was, looking a little sexy in his white hat.
And I started laughing. "I've always had a thing for Chef Boyardee," I said.
"What about Captain Crunch?" the Chef asked, a little miffed. "I know you've been hanging around with him."
And that was when I started having a laughing attack, one the Chef joined in with. We started naming all the imaginary people that populated our childhoods: Betty Crocker, Ronald McDonald, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, The Keebler Elves, Count Chocula. They weren't people but were characters, personalities that filled our minds at every meal. They were real enough.
Now, I've done my research and there really was a Chef Boyardee (his name was spelled Boiardi). But to me, he was a face on a can. He was a man who made sure my ravioli were well cooked (and at the time I ate them, they seemed just fine). Betty and Aunt Jemima really cared about me. They wanted me to eat and be satisfied. The little cartoon people and Ronald were just kind of fun, but they meant that food would be kind of fun, too. And back when I could eat really disgusting chemicals and not worry about it, it was fun.
Marketing goes so deeply into us, I wonder if we will ever know the extent that it sticks, the way that the tools used to sell things hang around, long after the products they were selling have been discontinued. Leftover and neglected, there they are in the corners populating our imagination.
And so here I am, a good forty years since I first saw most of those figures on boxes and cans and bottles. Here I am walking into my bedroom and seeing the Chef himself in bed, wearing his white hat, ready to serve up something.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org