"Call me weird," I said, "but I love to snap beans."
The older woman standing next to me paused from picking through the bin of plump yellow squash and let out a little chuckle. "Well, honey, if you're weird then I'm plumb crazy," she said. "Give me a big, old bowl of beans to snap or peas to shell and I feel like it's Christmas. It's a summer thing."
Then we both laughed and nodded and I put one more fistful of fresh green beans in my plastic baggie and twirled it around to close it and tied it up with a little twisty tie.
"Have fun with your snapping," the older woman said and we waved goodbye right there in the grocery store vegetable section, her with her squash and me with my green beans, and I pushed my buggy around the big display of bananas toward the potatoes because wouldn't a few small red skinned potatoes be good cooked up with my beans, I thought.
"I just don't like it," a friend confessed earlier that very same day as we were talking about vegetables. Perhaps I should at least attempt to appear more interesting - say we were talking about world affairs or science or literature - but, no. We were talking about vegetables.
"I just don't like to snap beans," my friend confessed and I was, quite weirdly, appalled and then she said it, the worst... "I just chop off the ends with a knife."
I considered running, running far away from her because I knew, just knew, that the vegetable gods would strike her down. Cut the ends off with a knife? The horror! And she said she did that because it's faster and it doesn't mess with her nails and, besides, she likes for all of her beans to be the same length.
I started to scoff, but didn't. It probably wasn't her fault. She probably never felt the weight of a big bowl in her lap or pulled fresh green beans straight from a brown paper sack. Never popped off the end and heard that crisp snap sound as her fingers flicked and she tucked the pointy ends in her palm until she couldn't hold anymore and tossed the beans in the bowl and the ends back back in the paper sack.
"Haven't you?" I asked her about all those things and she just looked at me and laughed and said she couldn't believe I would waste so much energy thinking, actually thinking, about green beans and I considered for a second that maybe she was right.
I love my green beans and my peas and my summer squash cooked up with onions and the tomatoes with okra and the corn - oh, the corn - how could anybody not love that stuff?
"You're weird," she said and I wasn't surprised she felt that way. But it probably wasn't her fault. She just doesn't know better. So I decided instead of being appalled that she cuts her green beans with a knife that I would feel sorry for her, even though she said AGAIN, just before she left, that I was weird.
"Oh, yum. You're going to cook those potatoes up with your beans, I hope," a voice behind me said as I stood waiting to check out and I turned around to the little older lady I had bonded with in the vegetable section. There in her buggy was her bag of squash and I saw a big bag of Vidalia onions, too.
"Yes, I am," I told her and she asked me if I cooked them whole or cut them up and I said I usually cut my potatoes but in big hunks and I asked her if she'd ever heard of cutting green beans with a knife and she laughed a big, old that's the craziest thing she ever heard laugh and I realized .... I'm not alone. Hallelujah.
Bean snappers rule. It's a summer thing.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.