Every summer around this time, in the middle of my kids' I'm bored doldrums, my husband trots out the story of how, When I was your age, I was outside in ninety-degree heat, standing on a tractor moving through central Illinois corn fields detasselling corn for ten hours a day. This, of course, causes said children to rightfully roll their eyes and exchange the Oh brother look the way my generation did when our parents told us they had to walk barefoot to school in the snow. Uphill. Both ways.
In his defense, when my husband tells his corn detasselling story, he's being facetious. It's become a favorite part of one of our frequent dinnertime amusements. If someone complains about something, anything, we try to outdo them with an "Oh yeah? Well you were lucky. I had to..." by filling in the blank with whatever worse misery our imagination can come up with. For example, if I complained traffic was terrible, someone would be obliged to tell me I was lucky to have a car. Good times, right?
This week, my husband managed to outdo his own corn detasselling biopic. After he'd once again told the heartwarming tale of his pastoral childhood's Midwestern work ethic, one of the boys smugly replied he'd be happy to detassel corn all summer long if only there were a way to do it in Chicago.
Considering the guy next door to us in the old neighborhood got so fed up with the weeds in his backyard he removed all his grass and planted corn, my son should be more careful what he says. That and the fact we have eight stalks of corn (popcorn!) growing in our backyard garden. This is probably what gave Jeff the idea for a job even more miserable than his childhood's: Urban Corn Detasseller.
Oh yeah? You we lucky. I was an Urban Corn Detasseller I had to go door to door looking for corn just so I could detassel it!
We immediately latched on to the idea as the story our kids could trot out to their own someday.
Oh sure corn detasselling is hard. But try being an Urban Corn Detasseller. We didn't get to ride on a nice tractor through fields where the corn already was. We had to hunt down the corn, too.
For the rest of this summer at least, the next time a child complains about having nothing to do, they're going right out to the backyard to detassel those eight ears of corn. Then maybe back to the old neighborhood for more of the same. Who knows, we might even send them door to door. There could be a great urban need for corn detassellers and we've only just discovered it. Of course they'll have to do it barefoot. Walking up hill both ways. If only we could provide some July snow.