The Vegetable From Purgatory-bean sprouts sprouting in my nightmare

by Wayne Chan

By Wayne Chan, AsAmNews Humorist

I am going to make a confession, and I already know what your response is going to be, because I’ve heard it a million times.

Here it is… I hate bean sprouts. There – I’ve said it. It’s “out there” now. And as I said, I know what you’re going to say.

Something like, “It’s just a crunch. It doesn’t taste like anything, really.”

Oh really?

In my humble opinion, bean sprouts look like reconstituted, freeze-dried earthworms and has a taste and texture of stale water in day-old lettuce wrap. If death had a taste, that would be it. It’s a vile weed.

Now, for those readers who like bean sprouts, I have no problem with that. Have at it. In fact, you can have mine.

Everyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand bean sprouts. When we go to a Chinese restaurant, and we order a noodle dish, this is what I say: “Please tell the chef not to put bean sprouts in it. No bean sprouts! I’m telling you right now, if the dish comes with bean sprouts, I will send it back. Now, please go back there and repeat these words – no bean sprouts in this noodle dish!”

Fifty percent of the time, the noodle dish comes with bean sprouts. Apparently, I wasn’t as clear as I needed to be when I put in my order.

So, you can imagine my disgust when I read a recent article in The Herald News, entitled, “Ever heard of a chop suey sandwich?”

In the article, it describes this apparently famous and popular sandwich as such: “…it’s only theoretically a sandwich – it’s the bottom half of a hamburger bun smothered in BEAN SPROUTS, vegetables and meat in a sort of beige gravy, with the top of the bun perched atop like a little carb hat. It’s not pretty, it can’t be eaten with your hands, and it has staunch defenders.”

BEAN SPROUTS?!? Beige gravy? Carb hat? It’s not pretty? And this is something you’re supposed to EAT? This is a restaurant where people go and pay real money in order to consume this supposed sandwich?

Before I go on, this isn’t about eating authentic Chinese food or being a snob against westernized versions of Chinese food. I actually like all that stuff. Cream cheese filled won tons? Sweet and sour pork with pineapple? Bring it on.

No, my animosity is directed specifically at that despicable sprout. That is my “thing”.

Everyone has their own tastes, right? And we can’t expect everyone to share our own tastes. Heck, I have a good friend who hates brussels sprouts. I like brussels sprouts. To each their own, right?

While you might like bean sprouts just fine, I feel compelled to fully describe the depth of my animosity towards this putrid vegetable. Let me give you a product analogy using an item we can all agree is not something we’d really like, which should give you a sense as to my true feelings of the dreaded bean sprout and the fact that a reputable newspaper would write an article about it.

Introducing the Used, Smelly Shoe Store. Here at the USSS, we only stock the finest examples of smelly shoes. We source our shoes only from those who have worn them in the dog days of summer, where the smell is truly at it’s nadir. We are committed to selling only the oldest, smelliest shoes at affordable prices. At USSS, we believe everyone deserves to wear a pair of old, smelly shoes at fantastic prices.

Next time I order a noodle dish, maybe I’ll just have them read this column.

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Writing, by it’s very nature, is a process bound in isolation. Any writer, whether they are writing the next great American novel, or in my case, trying to describe in vivid detail the experience of being walked on by a heavy set masseuse, creates their work alone. A writer writes alone, usually in a quiet room, away from any potential distractions. Yet, it’s what happens outside that room that ends up being the subject of most of my writing. For example, a few days ago, I fell down a long spiral staircase. It took me so long to fall down these stairs that I actually had time to think about things on the way down. How long is this going to take? Why do I keep wearing socks when I know how slippery these stairs are? I wonder if my kids are watching me falling down these stairs? How can I only be halfway down these stairs? After I’m done falling, should I immediately scream or should I quickly take my socks off so my wife can’t tell me how many times she’s told me that I shouldn’t wear socks when I’m on the stairs? How much longer is this going to take? These are the types of topics that I write about in my syndicated column. And yet, since I’m rarely present when someone is reading my column to get their feedback, I sometimes make an effort to make sure that people are still interested in what I’m thinking when I’m falling down a set of stairs. A few years ago I started attending some writer’s conferences to see what other people were writing. This conference happened to be the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop held every other year in Dayton, Ohio. One of the workshops was called something like, “How a Writer Finds Their Voice”. My understanding is that a writer’s voice is the perspective of a writer as well as their individual writing style. Finding your “voice” is essential for any writer. Even after I started writing my column, I have wondered whether the perspective of an Asian American writer, particularly one that was writing about, let’s face it - drivel, was a good “voice” for a writer. As I sat down for the “Voices” workshop, I noticed that of the 200 or so writers in the room, I was the only Asian in the room. Not only that, I was the only non-white person in the room. Towards the end of the presentation describing several helpful exercises to help writers find their “voice”, there was a question and answer period. After a few others took their turn, I raised my hand. Hi. My name is Wayne Chan. I write a syndicated humor column, and I write from an Asian American perspective and tend to write fluff pieces about eating “Sushi on a stick” at the county fair or how I once used hand signals to communicate to my dentist of what to do to me since he didn’t understand English or Chinese. Do you think my “voice” is one that people will want to hear? After a brief pause, the presenter said, “Look around you Wayne. Everyone here is looking for their voice. You have one sitting in your lap. Go for it.” I’ve been following his advice ever since. I hope you enjoy my fun. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it. Excuse me, but I need to go downstairs to get something. Wish me luck.

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