Unlocking Frasier

Today I got thinking about salad and salad dressing, as one does. It’s a thought I’ve considered a lot in the past and it goes a little bit like this: you mix up salad dressing in a container – let’s say a jug – and the suspension seems to bind, to hang together, and then if you were to put it down on a kitchen bench it would settle, the apparently combined elements would separate, and any little bits in it – like fragments of herbs – would cease to be suspended in the suspension, and sink; however, if you straight away after mixing poured the dressing onto the salad and tossed it, the suspension would remain intact and never separate again. I’m sure this has something to do with surface area to volume ratios – the physics and chemistry of liquids tend to rely on this relationship – and not something magical about tossing salad. But I can’t be sure. And it’s a tricky thing to research. What would you look up?

Anyway the reason this phenomenon cropped up again today was a question which has been puzzling me, on and off, for a while. On the TV show ‘Frasier’ the closing credits run over Kelsey Grammer singing a song in jazz style about tossed salad and scrambled eggs:

               Hey baby I hear the blues a'callin':
               Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs,
               And maybe I seem a bit confused
               Well, maybe, but I got you pegged.
               But I don't know what to do with those
               Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs,
               They're callin' again

and wondered what it was about. And wondered whether it was written for the show or just a song they used. It turns out that it was written for the show, and that the lyrics are frequently puzzled over by fans, wondering if there’s a hidden message, but that the words may have a fairly straightforward meaning. The blues calling are people phoning his psychiatrist agony aunt/helpline radio show, and the tossed salad and scrambled eggs are about the fact that he recognises eccentric or even mad people because he is one himself – well, perhaps a little nutty, but aren’t we all? –  and therefore has got you (the caller/s) pegged. An added dimension is that tossed salad and scrambled eggs cannot be untossed, the dressing cannot be re-separated, and eggs that have been scrambled are not able to be unscrambled. And I suppose this says something about the fact that people with a problem (and again, haven’t we all got at least one of those) cannot be cured; help is all that can ever be offered to them … or should that be us?

There you go. Not exactly unlocking the true meanings of Don MacLean’s “American Pie” or the Beatles “Yesterday And Today” butcher cover (not to mention all the stuff about Paul being dead, which freaks me out even as I laugh at it). Pregnant with meaning, nonetheless, and like the rest of the show just a little bit more cerebral than the average US sitcom.

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Published in: on May 27, 2010 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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