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I read an article by Anemona Hartocollis-a NYT reporter:

The gravel driveway to the farm is marked by stars and stripes painted on boards, like a Jasper Johns painting, with a baby’s footprints where the stars should be. Its whimsy hints at the affectionate family life inside. In the kitchen, the grocery list on the chalkboard shows requisitions, in different handwriting, for “man soap” and “sanity.” Well-seasoned cast iron pans hang on the wall, and in a freewheeling spirit, nobody minds that the bathroom has no door.

Question 1

Man soap " is one kind of soap which is proper for man to use". What about "sanity", what thing is it?

Question 2

What does "well-seasoned " mean? When I refer to the dictionary, it is telling:

  1. (Cookery) (of food) flavoured pleasantly or generously with herbs, salt, pepper, or spices
  2. (Forestry) (of timber) prepared and dried skilfully or thoroughly
  3. (of a person) matured or experienced

Which meaning should be picked above?

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  1. Man soap " is one kind of soap which is proper for man to use". What about "sanity", what thing is it?

Sanity is being used figuratively as something that needs to be purchased here I would say. Especially in light of the "freewheeling spirit, [where] nobody minds that the bathroom has no door." So the household are in need of sanity just as much as they are in need of 'man soap'.

  1. What does "well-seasoned " mean?

Seasoning Cookware

Seasoning is the process of treating the surface of a saucepan, wok, crepe griddle or other cooking vessel with a stick-resistant coating formed from polymerized fat and oil on the surface. (Wikipedia)

The pans on the wall have treated surfaces to make them resistant to foodstuff sticking to their surfaces while being cooked.

  • Does the house owner really want to purchase the man soap?As it is written on the chalkboard, I assume it does require to buy. Is it true? – Janet Apr 4 '17 at 7:46
  • I get the meaning of well-seasoned. Many thanks! But the "sanity "? I still didn't get. Is"man soap" the real thing that the house owner need to buy? – Janet Apr 4 '17 at 8:24
  • @Janet I would think so, and the fact that in this modern age we differentiate between male and female soap is a little ludicrous, when viewed abstractly. This insanity alongside the doorless bathroom makes for a house (and by association, part of the modern age) which seems to be rather insane, or at least this Is the suggestion of the author I would contest. You can't buy sanity in a shop, like you can 'man soap' but the objectification of sanity in this figurative way is a comic device on the part of the author I would say. Hope that helps, let me know if anything is unclear. – Gary Apr 4 '17 at 8:31
  • Given the context, I doubt that "sanity" is being used figuratively. The explanation offered by Xanne is much more likely. – michael.hor257k Apr 4 '17 at 9:10
  • And I obviously disagree. – Gary Apr 4 '17 at 9:11
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Man soap " is one kind of soap which is proper for man to use". What about "sanity", what thing is it?

These two items are on the shopping list on the chalkboard in the kitchen of Nate's father, whose farm is a half-hour outside of Topeka, Kansas--in a town called Holton. All this is described in an article about people in high school in the area trying to decide about going to college. Nate spends weekends on the farm; during the week he lives with his mother in the city.

In Holton, Nate has learned skills that are not clearly measured on a college application. He even speaks differently, mixing his tenses and sprinkling in some ain’ts. In Topeka, he is a committed student who eagerly signed up for a college-prep program when he was still in seventh grade.

The author is describing the farmhouse, and does not tell us what the writing on the chalkboard means, and probably hasn't asked and doesn't know. But whoever goes to the store, perhaps some distance away, will probably buy things for everyone who lives there. So we can only guess about "man soap" and "sanity."

I'd say "man soap" means a soap that isn't for a woman--not a little pink perfumed bar, but something suitable for a man.

"Sanity," in my guess, stands for "sanitary" and is a reference to a feminine hygiene product. Alternatively, it may be a product used on the farm for sanitation. I doubt it means "sanity" by any dictionary definition.

The well-seasoned pans are heavily used cast iron; they've been used to cook many dinners.

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