Sam Venable  

Special Contributor

Green is a marvelous color. It is soothing to the eye as well as the soul. I’m glad whoever invented the color spectrum saw fit to squeeze green in there between blue and yellow.

That being said, let me issue a St. Patrick’s Day warning:

By the time this holiday passes, we all will have been assaulted by so much green, everyone in nation will be—if you’ll pardon the expression—green around the gills.

Green neckties. Green shirts. Green blouses. Green dresses. Green coats. Green hats. Green gloves. Everywhere, green.

Even the O’Malleys, the O’Sullivans, and the McConnells, groups of people given to raucous frolic on this day, will ultimately suffer. They will drink green beer—and it packs a frightful punch, particularly when it is quaffed from noon until midnight.

What I’m trying to say is that there is good green and bad green. If St. Patrick had spent more time driving out the bad kind of green instead of worrying about those stupid snakes, the world would be a better place.

Consider green veggies and green fruits. Most of them are good. Spinach, okra, celery, asparagus, broccoli and limes, for instance.

Without spinach, Bluto would have stomped Popeye’s guts into the dirt decades ago.

Without okra, the South would’ve had one less claim of natural superiority over the North.

Without celery, asparagus, and broccoli, adulthood would barely be worth the trouble.

And without limes, no one would ever have experienced the pure joys of key lime pie or gin and tonic.

But there is a dark side to green fruits and veggies. A sinister, ruthless, cowardly element. An evil mutation that has haunted humanity since the dawn of creation.

Do the words “brussels sprouts” ring a bell?

Think (ugh!) about a big pile of brussels sprouts on your plate right now. They look like mushy, green, midget brains, don’t they? They stink worse than gym socks that have hidden in the back of your locker for an entire semester. Summer semester. Even then, I’d rather eat the socks.

Then there is the kiwi fruit, a slimy green algal growth that godless restaurants have recently begun sneaking onto the salad bar.

Think about this for a minute. The kiwi is a long-billed, flightless bird from New Zealand. There is also a brand of shoe polish called Kiwi. Surely a raw kiwi bird or a can of Kiwi shoe polish has a finer flavor than a slice of green kiwi fruit. There are no tiny black seeds in shoe polish, either.

Want more evidence of good and bad green? Think back to the television of your youth.

Mister Greenjeans was the good variety. He was Captain Kangaroo’s buddy. He had a calm, gentle voice. He taught children all about plants and animals.

Lorne Greene, on the other hand, is best remembered as Ben Cartwright, the rich old coot who ran the Ponderosa on “Bonanza.” All he ever did was dispatch his sons, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe, to do his fighting. Did you ever notice how Pa always managed to ride up just as the last punch was being thrown? Never even got his gloves dirty!

And then there was Mean Joe Green. He vacillated between good and bad.

During a football game, he could have taken on the entire Cartwright clan, including Hop Sing, and never bruised a finger. But off the field, Mean Joe was a pussycat. When he tossed his dirty jersey to that little boy in the long-ago Coke-Cola commercial, I almost burst into tears.

Hmm. On the other hand, I bet that awful jersey stunk worse than a whole room full of brussels sprouts.

Sam Venable is an author, stand-up comedian, and humor columnist for the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel. He may be reached at