I’ve donned horns. Had jowls that drooped almost to my shoulders. Even represented myself as a single item of red-colored clothing.
But that’s not who I am. Really.
Neither did my son ever brandish an onyx-hued eye patch and sword. Nor did we ever feed our daughter by way of photosynthesis or pinch off her head to encourage new growth.
I was recently speaking to an elementary school principal about mascots and learned that such titles are a thing of the past at her campus.
‘Didn’t y’all used to be the Hornets?’ I inquired.
‘Yes, but no more,’ she responded. ‘I just feel funny naming our kids after animals.’
‘Really?’ I asked. ‘You’ve obviously not met my kids.’
I was admittedly surprised at her response and initially believed it to be on the ridiculous side. Then I thought about it briefly. My favorite sports teams, as it turns out, are named for roles that humans tend to take on — Rangers … Phillies … Mavericks.
I traveled back in time.
The first baseball team I ever sat on the bench for was the Bulldogs. I graduated to the Red Sox. All the while, we celebrated our school spirit by donning Mini Devils gear. It wasn’t much different for my son, who played baseball for the Tigers, while our daughter was a forward on the Daisies soccer club.
Where do we come up with this juju? And why?
Perhaps these mascots are more for the parents. If you’re a father and you drive a Mack truck for a living, that bulldog decal is most appropriate for your sleeper cab. Daisy decals are the perfect accoutrement for any model of Volkswagen — especially those with white, fuchsia or powder blue paint jobs. But why are there no teams of doctors, lawyers or … geniuses?
There are Bears and Bulls — Chicago’s teams. They are, after all, named for the stock exchange there. If you are an aspiring broker, these are the teams you root for, regardless of your locale. By the same token, if your dream is to leave small town America and go to New York City, you’d pull for the Mets (short for Metropolitans).
There are plenty of other mascots worthy of our applause. At some point, almost all of us have wanted to become Astros (short for Astronauts). If you celebrate Independence Day — and who doesn’t? — at least a small part of you supports the Patriots or Yankees. And how could you not let out a hoorah or two for the Packers? Especially if you’re a carnivore.
But some of these other popular team tags? I can only guess their origins.
It could be that, way back when, a scorned woman came up the bulldog, pirate and hornet monikers. And devils too. She might’ve been the same person who determined that boys are actually snips of snails and puppy dog tails.
I have no earthly idea about the genesis of Daisies or Flower Power Girls, though I sort of like the Clobbering Cuties.
I have lived in what my parents referred to as a pigsty and, I’ve been known to grab more than my fair share. I’ve also been warned that I was about to be eating my dinner outside with the other animals.
I’ve been referred to as a teddy bear, snake in the grass and as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Not to mention, I’ve been called an ass more times than I care to remember.
Come to think of it, that elementary school principal might just be onto something.
I’ve been in a bit of a Thai mood lately, with the Fresh Spring Rolls, Coconut Sorbet w/ Kaffir Lime Syrup and now, Shrimp Pad Thai. If you’re not familiar with Thai cuisine, Pad Thai is the perfect introduction. Feel free to use chicken or tofu instead of (or in addition to) shrimp. Though you might see lime juice listed across the World Wide Web as a viable substitute for tamarind paste (pulp) — it’s not. Both are sour, but the similarities stop there. If you don’t live near an Asian grocery or mega-gourmet supermarket, get tamarind from a Latin market.
Shrimp Pad Thai
1/2 lb – Shrimp, peeled & deveined
8 oz – Rice noodles
2 cups – Mung (bean) sprouts
1/2 cup – Green onion, chopped
2 – Eggs, slightly beaten
3 cloves – Garlic, minced
2 TB – Vegetable oil
Pad Thai Sauce (below)
1/4 cup – Roasted peanuts, chopped
A few sprigs of Cilantro
A quartered lime
Additional green onion & Mung sprouts
Make Pad Thai sauce. Set aside.
Soak rice noodles per package instructions — until flexible but firm. (Depending on the noodle, this could be anywhere from 10 minutes to almost an hour. Be careful to not over-soak the noodles.) Drain. Leave in colander.
In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and green onion. Sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and stir-fry until pink, about two minutes. Remove from pan and set aside (to avoid overcooking). — Give noodles a quick cold water rinse to separate. Meanwhile, add egg to pan and allow to cook for about 15 seconds until it begins to set. Add rice noodles to pan. Stir with wide tongs to combine eggs and noodles. Add Pad Thai Sauce to pan. Continue stirring until sauce, eggs and noodles are combined. Add Mung sprouts and cooked shrimp to mixture. Continue tossing for about 2 more minutes.
Place Pad Thai onto a large platter. Garnish with the listed ingredients.
Makes four servings.
Pad Thai Sauce
3 TB – Brown sugar
3 TB – Fish sauce
2 TB – Tamarind paste, pressed through strainer
2 TB – Soy sauce
1 TB – Chile paste (Sambal Oelek)
1/4 cup – Chicken or vegetable stock
Combine all ingredients. May be made in advance and refrigerated for up to a week.