Green Eggs and Ham: The Story of Us

Has there ever been a truer story written about America than Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham? Everything that you could possibly want to know about 20th and 21st century America is contained within the pages of this deceptively slight book. Forget about writing the Great American Novel; it’s been done. And while you’re at it, put Green Eggs and Ham at the top of your list of Important American Novels to Read; above Catch-22, The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby. Those books cannot tell you anything more about American that Theodor Seuss Geisel’s extraordinarily perceptive little tale of Sam-I-Am and his attempt to foist the disgusting meal of green eggs and ham upon an unsuspecting consumer. It is truly nothing less than astonishing that Dr. Seuss could do with just 50 words what it took hundreds of pages for other, far more respected and studied, others to do. And neither The Naked and the Dead nor An American Tragedy offer the kind of prescient glimpse into the next century that Green Eggs and Ham accomplishes.

“I would not like them

here or there.

I would not like them

anywhere.

I do not like

green eggs and ham.

I do not like them,

Sam-I-am.”

It is not that Sam-I-Am, and oh how I also do not like that Sam-I-Am, doesn’t get the fact that the anonymous consumer of the story really and truly does not like green eggs and ham; it is not even that he doesn’t know whether the dude ever even tried green eggs and ham. The point is that Sam-I-Am doesn’t care about these things. Sam-I-Am has one job and one job only and it has nothing to do with delivering a quality food product. His job is to sell to the trapped consumer. And thus is the vital element that makes Green Eggs and Ham the finest, most cogent observation of the American identity ever put to paper. America has long been about selling and buying, and far less about manufacturing quality goods. Look at the way we choose our President. It is not about selling the ability of one candidate or another to do the job that the present occupant of the Oval Office could not; it is about selling us something of dubious quality and making us like it. Consider that there are still, as we speak, between 40 and 50 percent of this country that would vote for George W. Bush if he ran again. How do I arrive at this figure? Because that is how many people say they would vote for one of the Republican candidates and if you can find a significant policy difference between any of them and George W. Bush, I’d sure like you to enlighten me. John McCain is Sam-I-Am, but then so is Hillary and Obama. What choice do we have but to buy green eggs and ham and like it.

Sam-I-Am lives among us, every day, everywhere. In any given hour on any given cable channel in my home, there will be at least three or four Cox Cable commercials. Cox Cable is green eggs and ham. People do try it, just like the unnamed eater of the ham and eggs in Seuss’ cautionary tale. And a great many are, just like that guy, convinced it is good and would try it not only in their house, but with a mouse. The fact is, however, that Cox Cable sucks. Just like your cable company sucks. Just like all cable companies suck. Every single day we gobble up green eggs and ham and consider it to be filet mignon. Look at America’s health care system. It is the most unaffordable in the world and we’re still getting daily horror stories like the ones about Dennis Quaid’s babies, or the woman who died from an unnecessary mastectomy. And yet a great deal of our population remain under the delusion that our health care system is filet mignon instead of green eggs and ham.

I do not like that Sam-I-Am. But there’s no getting away from him, is there?