“Are you the world’s greatest lettuce face?” The child asked excitedly. “Why, yes I was back in the day. All the people loved the sight of me coming on stage with that moist lettuce plastered all over me. The only holes were for breathing, speaking, and seeing. It got humid in there after awhile. Don’t know why. Just happens when your sweat, salty as celery juice slicks up the interior of the mask. Those brutal stage lights really did the broil. Ah, those were the days when I waved to the crowd and every night, when all was finished, the lettuce would be dark and wilted. It was hard work being the world’s greatest lettuce face, it was, but I loved it.” The aging man went quiet as his eyes turned inward towards the past. The child watched in amazement as one of the world’s greatest performers stood there before her. Mr. Truldo returned to the present and he saw the child standing there expectantly. “Well, kid, I worked at that for years with no one to rival me. No one could make the salady joints of the costume squeak like I could. No one else could cartwheel across the stage without ripping that veggy suit to shreds. I had a silken touch I did. I was Lord of the Lettuce. I ate the stuff at every meal and wore it too. Had I ever ripped the pale green leaves that covered me, I would’ve been standing there naked in front of the world. You see, I was doing my thing back in the days when people still ate meat. I’m now given credit for converting thousands of people away from those old practices. Back then they thought vegetables were boring and tasteless.” The child stopped licking at her cone of cold collard green paste and stared incredulously. “Yes,” Said Mr. Truldo, “They would’ve thought you crazy for eating that green stuff. They were right carnivores they were. If it wasn’t meat it was sugary stuff like coke and candy. Loads of it.”
“Ewww.” Said the child. “That’s disgusting. What’d they do that for?” Truldo chuckled. “Back in my day, little kids like you loved their chocolate cereal, their cookies, and candy bars like life itself. Their parents had to try hard just to keep them out of all the bad food. And even grownups would get fat all the time from eating cow meat boiled in grease.” The child looked disgusted but also fascinated in a way by these strange habits of the older generation. “Did they like getting fat?”
“Oh no, they hated it, they loathed it, but they loved their fatty food. That’s when the vegetable clans began. They were kind of like clubs. People who wanted to get healthy would join and pledge allegiance to their clan’s vegetable. They would base their diet on their clan symbol and pursue a healthier life. I got involved because I was very fat.” The child’s eyes widened as she stared at the athletic and trim Truldo. “You were fat?”
“I couldn’t even run around the block and I just got sick of it. I joined the lettuce clan, which already had a nice reputation. You see, lettuce has hardly any calories in it-”
“I know,” Interrupted the child. She proudly held up her tongue-sculpted snack. “And only thirty calories in this, the whole thing. I learned there’s twenty per serving in lettuce. Even less than my pastygreen.”
Truldo smiled. “It sounds like you’ve been doing your learning at home and school. I didn’t even know that until I joined the lettuce clan. We just weren’t taught the facts back when they ate meat. Most of us didn’t know how many calories, sodium, carbohydrates, or grams of fat we were taking in. It was all written right there on the packaging but almost no one paid any real attention. They taught me how to cut down on fat and I got rid of it in just a few months. With my type of health they wondered how I got fat in the first place. It wasn’t until then that I really became active in the lettuce clan. Every clan had a carrot face or a beet face, but ours couldn’t find anyone because lettuce is just so delicate. Everyone that tried messed up the suit within a few minutes and embarrassed themselves. I was a natural from the start and didn’t need any training. I could feel every little square inch of that veiny vegetable tissue. I could always correct a wrong movement just a fraction of a second before it tore open. You see, there was this squeaking sound as it all slid together and stretched. I knew what to do just by listening. I was born to be a lettuce face and that became my career.” The child slurped up the last of her paste and began nibbling on the cone. Truldo watched for a moment with amusement. “I’m here in town to visit the local chapter of the lettuce clan. They’ve had some small attendance lately and I’ve been sent to liven things up. It’s been nice meeting you. You seem to know your calorie tables real well. I bet you’ll grow up nice and nutritious.” The child and Truldo shook hands. As he got up to leave, she asked, “Can I have your autograph?” The world’s greatest lettuce face was quick to pull out his shiny black pen. The child rustled through her backpack and gave him a worn school notebook. With a quick scratching, the distinct but illegible signature shone large on a blank, lined page. The child reverently placed it back in her backpack. She could only wave goodbye to him as he walked towards the parking lot, waving back at her. She was sad to see him go. As soon as the world’s greatest lettuce face was gone, she ran home to her artichoke family.