Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Support Education, Go Trick-or Treating!

It is officially the spookiest time of year . . . election season. Oops! Wrong column. Ok, so Halloween is coming up. I know that a lot of folks don’t celebrate for various reasons: childhood obesity, safety concerns, the problems with hooligans, etc. But are these good reasons to end a time-honored American past-time steeped in tradition?

It is no coincidence that Halloween takes place at the same time of year as political campaigning. Going door-to-door, begging for handouts is the childhood precursor to political campaign financing. Trick-or-treating is very similar to running for office. For instance, there is a special time to go (Halloween night), things you have to say even if they are not true (thank you for the raisins), you have to deal with lobbyists (dentists) and special interest groups (vegans and UNICEF) and there is a special code to direct revelers to the right place (a porch light). Halloween teaches children about government.

Ok, so no one really wants to think about politics right now. Well then, think of Halloween as a teaching tool, and each year of trick-or-treating is an educational experience all its own.

One Halloween from my past stands out. Back then, costumes were plastic suits that had to be eased into or they might rip and then would need to be repaired with duct tape. Store-bought costumes came with plastic masks that had one big rubber band and two staples. My brother would come up behind me and snap that rubber band so hard that I thought my eyeballs were going to shoot out of my head. I could never see out of the mask because the eye holes were little slits conveniently located near my ears. I got so sweaty from trick-or-treating that the plastic would act as a giant piece of Saran Wrap. When I took off my costume it was like peeling the lid off of a warm pot-roast as condensation dripped off of the inside of my costume. It was like a sweat lodge for the grammar school set.

The year I turned seven I dressed-up as Wonder Woman. The poly- vinyl over two layers of clothing made me look like a lumpy Linda Carter after a botched liposuction. I was one of six Wonder Women in my neighborhood. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I really was the best one, since only I had the tiara, the bullet-proof bracelets, and the magic lasso of truth--all made out of aluminum foil (see, Halloween teaches us how to accessorize).

My sister used to eat all her candy at once. I used to code mine into two groups, the high end goodies (chocolate) and the lower end stuff (tootsie rolls, suckers, dots, gum, and any type of taffy product), then I could ration out my horde throughout the year and never be without sugar (saving for retirement).

At one point, there was an after-school special that warned against eating anything homemade or items not individually packaged. The hospital in my community started giving free x-rays for candy on Halloween night. The line to get candy inspected was lengthy, I was so hungry that I ate two Almond Joys, a Snicker’s bar, and a York Peppermint patty before my candy got the green light for consumption. It turns out; the only thing in my candy was nougat but as a bonus I got to have my stomach pumped (learning about healthcare).

If you are still not convinced that Halloween is educational, just remember, some of the most important life lessons can be learned from trick-or-treating. For example: Beggars cannot be choosers (you wanted Chick-O-Sticks but got Sixlets, bummer). Your parents are not above stealing from you (where do you think the expression “taking candy from a baby” came from?). You can never be too rich, or too thin, or have too much candy (unless it is those orange circus peanuts, no one wants those). You can become anything you want (as long as the total cost does not exceed $10, does not require actual sewing, is not flammable, or does not have some form of mechanical apparatus—swords and battle axes are ok). And finally, there is a return on investment (time spent running from house to house + size of treat bag = one fun evening).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Not Me, It's You

You know, I have been on this earth a while now and I have come to a conclusion: people are crazy. I used to think there was something wrong with me but now I realize, it’s not me, it’s you.

That may sound kind of harsh, but sometimes the truth hurts. Listen, if you have a mental deficiency, why is that somehow my problem? What was that saying years ago? “Where’s the beef?” No, not that one. Oh yeah, “Stop the insanity!” That saying needs to make a comeback. No really, Stop. The. Insanity.

The craziness is everywhere! Like my grandmother used to say, “You couldn’t swing a dog without hitting a crazy person.” Or maybe it was you couldn’t swing a dog without being a crazy person? Or, you couldn’t swing a crazy person without a dog? Whatever. My point is you people have a serious problem on your hands.

There is a phenomenon out there called stupidity. It causes people to do things that I think are stupid. There is also a phenomenon called stupidity marketing. It convinces stupid people to purchase products that no one on the planet actually needs. When these two phenomenons combine, it creates a powerful siphoning effect on brain cells. Stupidity and stupidity marketing are single-handedly responsible for skinny jeans, pajama jeans, and Mom jeans. Just imagine the worldwide catastrophic destruction on human dignity.

The other day I saw a story on the news about a woman who became a millionaire from making (drum roll please) dog sweaters! A dog sweater does not make any sense. It is the perfect example of the phenomenon described above because; if you were not aware, dogs have fur. Couldn’t that be considered overkill? What about those people that shave their dogs and THEN put sweaters on them? Save yourself some money, DON'T shave the dog and then they won't NEED a sweater! Oh, hairless dogs you say, they need sweaters. No they don’t. Darwin called it survival of the fittest, if you have an animal that cannot go outside because it will die of exposure then maybe it should stay inside.

Everyone says this political party or that political party is killing America, the economy is killing America, laziness is killing America, crime is killing America, poverty is killing America and on and on. You really want to know what is killing America? Crazy is killing America.

I do not know why people do the stupid, inane, crackpot things they do. Not just doing dumb things, but saying dumb things. Oh the commitment they make to their cerebral shortcomings. They will utter ridiculous drivel and then argue with anyone who tries to point out it is ridiculous drivel. And when they cannot get anyone to listen to them in person, they post these same terrible things on social networking sites. It is either: my woman left me for my probation officer, my baby-Daddy won’t pay child-support, my sister finally got paroled, etc. It is like a country music song without those endearing banjos.

I recently saw one of the most horrible posts of my life the other day on Facebook. A “friend” posted an ad for free zucchini. Now let that sink in for a moment—free zucchini. First of all, nothing in life is free folks and if you accept one zucchini from someone, you may come out to your car after a lovely day at the mall, and find it full of zucchini. And you wouldn’t have anyone to blame but yourself. Second, there is a reason no one pays for zucchini. No one goes to the store and asks to be directed to the ‘zucchini section,’ and starts filling their cart with the giant green pods of doom. Doesn’t happen.

You only get zucchini when you have “friends” who grow zucchini and then offer you some. Why do they grow so much? No one can eat that much zucchini! If you love zucchini, plant one seed, in the fall you will have so much zucchini you could use it to build a city. That is what happens. How do you politely turn away “free zucchini?” There is only one sure-fire way; you have to start growing your own zucchini and then torment people who don’t grow zucchini.

But maybe you are thinking you don’t want to grow your own zucchini. In fact, you don’t want zucchini at all. Well, it is kind of how I feel about craziness in America. And although, it is unfair, that is just tough. Tough bananas. What do I mean by that? I mean it is a matter of invoking the tough banana rule.

The tough banana rule is just how it sounds. Sort of. It is like when you go to buy bananas and all they have are the green ones that you know you will have to leave on the counter for three days to get ripe and by then you won’t be in the mood for bananas. Then the bananas will start to get spotty and next thing you know there are fruit flies zipping around your kitchen. Then you will be torn between just throwing them out, or possibly, making them into a smoothie which, if you were honest with yourself, you don’t really care for. But you cannot throw them out, because they are like sixty-eight cents a pound so you decide, what the heck, and make those suckers into banana bread. And just for the thrill of it, you throw some chocolate chips in there. Cuz lord knows any fruit is better with chocolate on it. Then when your bread is done you think Voila! I saved the day. Because banana bread, unlike plain old bananas, can be frozen and used later. So, long story short, take what you get, roll with it. Do the best you can, don’t get sucked into buying a persimmon just because the bananas are green, you do not know a darn thing about persimmons, all you know is bananas. And no one cries at the grocery store over green bananas and you shouldn’t either, because it is crazy.