Wednesday, September 7, 2011


There are many things that lots of people like, like chocolate, or Starbucks.  There are also many things in the world that lots of people dislike, like bear attacks, or vomiting.  Although a good icebreaker, you can get nowhere fast in a conversation if you only talk about things in terms of what you like and dislike.  A conversation will fizzle if you and your conversation partner are on opposite ends of the spectrum on a topic, or if you both feel the same way about something, like shoes matching a purse, or that an appropriate punishment for parents who fail to discipline unruly children in restaurants is public flogging.  It’s a conversation lengthener to look at things as how overrated or underrated you think they are; the following is a brief list of some important things which I have found useful in energizing a conversation in important social settings, like a debutante ball or your husband’s company picnic, when you are cornered by his boss’s drunk wife. 

  • “Reality” TV.  At this point, if you are trying to convince me that people on these shows really live their lives like this, I want to see bathroom breaks and pimple popping.  If you’re not willing to show that, make it stop.  Okay, I don’t watch reality TV; they might do these things.  I just never miss an opportunity to ask it to stop.

  • Wisdom that comes with age.  I hate when people who are older than me pretend that they are so much smarter just because they are a few years older.  You remember black and white TV?  Can you help me with my doctoral dissertation?  Keep your wisdom; getting old sucks.  What are you doing with all that wisdom?  Most likely nothing.  Being young is way better.

  • The need for a minivan.  Although comfortable for families, all that space is completely unnecessary; it’s basically used to store trash.  Look in the windows of any minivan; most are motorized dumpsters.

  • Perpetuating traditional childhood myths.  Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy seem like good ideas at the time until you realize that you have to construct elaborate lies to avoid crushing your children’s spirit.  At some point you have to unravel the lies in time without them a) hating you or b) being ruthlessly teased in school for believing such idiotic fantasies.


  • Regular bowel movements.  Enough said. 

  • Good health.  Everyone says that you don’t know how good it is until it’s gone.  This is true for anybody suffering any ailment, from a paper cut to stage 4 cancer.  Not that a paper cut is even on the same page as cancer, but try thinking of anything else when you’ve got one.

  • Clean windows.  When I washed the windows in my house after several years, it was literally like all the lights went on.  Do it, once.  You won’t be disappointed.

  • Being a good role model for your kids.  I laugh out loud at my kids’ potty humor, teach them songs that I used to get into trouble for singing when I was young, and use swear words, on occasion, to get my point across.  The verdict is out on whether or not they will actually benefit from these things, but I feel that seeing mom as a human being is better than them expecting me to do the impossible, like fixing a broken bouncy ball or baking two  hundred cupcakes the night before the school bake sale.

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