June 26, 2007

Frozen Food - The Path To Family Unity

OK, I’m not kidding about this. Stouffer’s has TV commercials encouraging families to have dinner together. These dinners should be a time when the family can talk about their days and spend quality time with each other. What a novel concept, eating a meal together as a family. Without the TV on. For those of you who really do think this is a novel concept, Stouffer’s, makers of all those wholesome, processed, frozen foods has developed a section on their website where families can refer to a list of conversation topics to help them get going. Really. I’m not kidding.

I know I sound like a really old person when I say, what the hell is wrong with people these days? Dinner time was when you told your parents about the D you were getting in math. It was the place you learned phrases like “…oh for cry eye” used by Dad while he talked about his coworkers. It was where you complained about schoolmates after which your mother made you say three nice things about that person you hate so much. How can you have dinner and not talk to your family? How can you not know what to say to them? The only answer to those questions is that families don’t have dinner together to begin with. Families are no longer a unit of people living in one house. They are merely anonymous separates.

For the life of me I can’t understand how a family becomes that way. Parents should not be so busy that they can’t take two hours out of twenty-four to prepare, serve, and clean up a dinner meal. Children should not be so overextended with extracurricular activities that they have no time to spend at home for a decent meal. Why wouldn’t spending time together as a family be a priority from day one? What’s the sense of creating a family if you have no intention of nurturing it and embracing it?

In addition to that, how are children supposed to learn how to maintain a household if they aren’t home to see it done and be taught how to do it by a parent(s) who knows the ins and outs of cooking and cleaning. If you aren’t getting together for a meal, one meal, during the day, how will a child know that food can be cooked on a stovetop, in an oven, even in a microwave instead of calling in a request to a restaurant or shouting an order into the clown’s mouth. Doing the dishes after a meal is part of the package too. Back in my day we didn’t have a dishwasher, so we took turns drying dishes while Mom washed them. What’s wrong with assigning different after dinner clean-up chores to kids? Nothing. Nothing I say!

The whole Stouffer’s thing made me depressed. It emphasized the demise of the American family. It emphasized the reality of domestically-ignorant children and priority-challenged parents. It made me sad that little kids aren’t having the experience of sitting around the kitchen table with their parents and siblings, trying new food, laughing with each other, arguing with each other, and learning about each other, all which enforces a sense of belonging.

While I agree with Stouffer’s in that families should share dinner time together, I think it’s a very sad commentary on our society that a frozen food company can use the pitiful state of the American family unit as a market for their products. Face it, if we were a nation that put more priority on developing healthy family relationships and healthy families in general, and less priority on materialism and competition, we would have no need for frozen food, much less frozen food representatives telling us how to create a dinnertime scenario involving the people with whom we share a house.

Mmmmm, tasty.

June 11, 2007

Spare Me The Baby Talk

Mommy blogs are some of my favorite blogs to read. Except for days like today, when I’m totally nauseated by them.

This could have everything to do with the fact that I am not a mommy and cannot relate in the least. Or could it be that mommies today are oblivious to the fact that woman have been bearing and raising children for, well, eons.

I can accept the possibility that our mothers, and their mothers before them might have done a little better job had they possessed some kind of emotional outlet such as, say, blogging. But tell me, does sitting at a computer and venting frustrations over toilet training (or lack thereof), toddler diet (or lack thereof), or annoying TV favorites of the child actually make one a better parent?

Then there’s the mommy blogger who doesn’t so much complain about her little one as much as gush embarrassingly over him, as though never has there been created such a perfect creature. Oh I know, every mother thinks her child is the most beautiful, smartest, most clever and funny. But think of it from a non-parent’s point of view. All babies, toddlers, and small children are pretty much the same.

I’m not saying a parent shouldn’t be proud. I think parents should treasure their children. But it might be a little unrealistic to expect the rest of humankind of acknowledge your childbirth, your parenthood, your baby as the be-all end-all in the history of procreation.

Case in point: baby talk. It’s simply delightful to listen to a child learning how to speak. In person. From the child. There is nothing cute about an adult person writing the sentence, “wook Mommy, dats my bwankie,” as she relays a story regarding her child. I hate to say it, but all of the cuteness of that kind of talk lies in actually hearing it. Phonetic words written by a smitten parent are cloying and obnoxious.

There’s one mommy blog I can’t help but read. She can be somewhat entertaining, but every time I open the blog up I scold myself for bothering. She’s one of those who writes in the baby talk. She also has a little name for her child. The Poo. Not The Pooh, as in Whinnie. The Poo. As in shit. Anonymity is a good thing when you’re broadcasting your personal life all over the internets, and I don’t blame mommy for not giving the child’s actual name (notwithstanding the fact that her pictures are constantly plastered all over the blog), but to give your child a name like The Poo. Does she use that name for her child in real life, or is it just her little internets name? Either way, I say yikes.

And so there it is. My opinions don’t amount to a hill of beans compared to the popularity of all the mommy blogs out there. They’re definitely being read, even by the likes of me who thinks a baby who isn’t weaned from the breast by the time he has teeth or a toddler who isn’t potty trained by the time she is three will have some serious emotional hell to pay when they grow up. Could it be possible that baby would have been weaned and potty trained sooner if mommy had spent her time helping little junior succeed in these areas instead of blogging about it?

Just call me the bitter, old, barren one. Sour grapes. Not blessed with any bundles of joy. Hey, if I can’t blog about my adorable little toddler, I’ll blog about those of you who do.

June 06, 2007

Waiting Downtown

I’m sitting outdoors in downtown St. Paul, waiting for the theatre doors to open and for my theatre companions to arrive. I sat in the wrong place and within ten minutes have decided it’s time to move. The peacefulness of watching the pigeons has been disturbed by a barrage of f-bombs being dropped right next to me. I’m not a prude, but these people are making me sick with their little lower-class drama and urban profanity. I’ve got to get out of here.

Ten minutes later: Okay, that wasn’t so hard. I know I’m a racist when I say certain people of a certain cultural background come off as being the most brash, obscene, and obnoxious ingredient in the melting pot. I’m not so blind to think all dark-skinned people with pants hanging below their butts are this way, nor would I say people with fair skin and high-water pants are incapable of being brash, obscene, and obnoxious, but there’s no denying that the people I was sitting next to a little while ago definitely fit a stereotype. Thank you, MTV.

Back to the city. It’s really a shame how it has dwindled. It’s still a lovely city, but the downtown area pretty much dies after 5:30 p.m. when all the employees go home to the suburbs, especially on the east side of town where I work. Tonight I’m attending a play on the west side of town, a whole six blocks from the east side. This side of town has actual restaurants instead of fast food caves nestled in the skyway path. There are three theaters and actual retail shops on the west side of town. The people who work on the west side of town are professional corporate types, as opposed to those on the east side like me – the government schmucks. People over on the west side dress in jackets and ties, dresses and pantyhose. East-enders wear the same clothes at work as they would if they were cleaning out their attics.

But there I go again, stereotyping. I’m a well-dressed government professional. I fit right in over hear on the west side. And now I’ve sequestered myself in the enclosed patio area of a restaurant for a refreshing libation that requires money, which turns out to be a metaphor for the separation of class in our society. You see, despite the fact that I work on the east side of town, my presentation and demeanor definitely fit into the west side scene, while the guy who was compelled to sing Private Dancer at the top of his lungs to a passer-by and announced to his homeboys that he wished he had some money cuz he’s horny is positioned on the west side of town, but is a total misfit. An intimidating misfit, but a misfit nonetheless. Funny how stuff happens that way.


Okay, I misspoke. I totally disregarded the Mears Park area over on the east side of downtown St. Paul. There are actual restaurants there too. I guess I work in what could be considered mid-town. The part of town where they turn historic buildings into contemporary eyesores. Where the pastimes of the working people are softball and bowling as opposed to concerts and theatre. Yeah, mid-town.

Oh how I crave the cosmopolitan life; how sad I am that I have been sucked into the mid-town-to-suburbia lifestyle.

June 05, 2007

Hangin' With Those Smart Peeps

I once knew a person who referred to this particular style of male facial hair ...

... as pork chops.

Something To Ponder

Why do people point to their wrist when they ask what time it is, but don’t point to their crotch when asking where the bathroom is?