Monday, September 22, 2014

The Legend of Pumpkin Spice

"Tell me a story, mommy," the baby pumpkin whispered as he bounced into bed and pulled up the covers. "A scary one!"

"Are you sure you want a scary story, honey?"

"YESSSSS. Really scary!" he cried.

"OK, Gourdy, but then you have to go to sleep," said Momma Pumpkin, tucking him in. "Once upon a time, we Pumpkin-kind started rubbing ourselves with a Sacred Spice Blend to protect us and make us tasty so that People wouldn't notice that we're actually kinda slimy and starchy. We wore the Spice, and People loved us and planted us and made us into sacred pies to celebrate their Day of Gratitude. Everyone was happy. But then there was a Marketer, who saw that there was all this leftover Pumpkin Spice that wasn't making anyone any money, and so he started telling People to put Pumpkin Spice into everything!"

"EVERYTHING?" Gourdy said, his eyes wide.

"Yes! First it was just coffee and Yankee candles. Then, as time passed, they started putting it in beer, and then into Oreo cookies and potato chips and pizza and skin cream."

"What happened then, Mommy?"

"Well, soon there was no protective Spice left for us Pumpkins. And our flesh began to rot away and people noticed we were actually kinda gross and mealy, and then the beer and the coffee and the cereal and the bratwurst and the shampoo, who were all sick of smelling and tasting like Pumpkin Spice, got really angry and came out through the night and gathered around all the Pumpkin patches and got ready to come in through the vines and smear themselves all over us and force us to taste like them. They're outside the patch right now ... can you hear them whispering?"

"I can! I can hear them, Mommy!" Gourdy cried out in terror, diving beneath the covers. "I don't wanna taste like a shampoo!" 

And Momma Pumpkin realized she had made the story too scary again, and felt terrible, and began to try to comfort Gourdy and remind him it was all just a story, but then she felt the vines shift all around and heard the chant -- taste like us taste like us. She felt the cold, sharp edge of a Pringle against her skin and she realized that they had finally come.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Advice to Fidgety Children Who Ate Their Dinner Quickly And Now Have Been Told to Just Sit There Quietly Even Though it is SO Boooooring

Little kids, let me give you some advice: When you're at dinner and you wolf your food in 2 minutes and want to leave the table and go back to fun, important things like tree-climbing and LEGO and worm inspection, and your parents won't let you and tell you to be polite and wait for everyone else to finish: DO NOT LISTEN. 

On days when I have one meeting up against a conference call overlapping another meeting at the same time as another meeting, the ability I developed in childhood to open my mouth, insert half a pound of salad and swallow it in a giant lump like an anaconda, is all that keeps me from wasting away into a floppy pile of dial-in codes, shifting organizational paradigms, and pasty, cubicle-wan skin. 

Your parents don't want that! They love you. They don't want you to starve. So if they ever tell you not to wolf your food, it's probably because ... and I know this will be hard to hear ... they're not really your parents. They are replicants who have stolen your real parents and have them tied up somewhere dark, where your mother is weeping quietly and whispering, "God, I just hope he eats quickly and runs out to play, before they take advantage of his lack of fidgeting to drain him of his organs and fluids!" And your Dad will feel the same way, but he won't say it, because they will have already drained him. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Word the Internet Needs

It has come to my attention that many of us who are active on the Internet sometimes need a quick, one-word response to express the idea, "I see your point, and you are correct on some level, but you have expressed this in such a condescending/ smarmy/ mean way that, while I may accept your point once my shame response has faded, right now all I can do is marvel at what a creep you're being." *

The old saw "If you can't find anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" has morphed into "If you can't find anything nice to say, comment online." And it seems to be getting worse. Almost daily, I see situations where a person smugly/aggressively corrects someone's spelling or grammar just to show off; uses a condescending phrase like, "You're too smart to believe THAT" in an online argument; or otherwise throws knowledge around in such a way that the end result is not clarity/compassion/deeper understanding on the part of the person they're lecturing, but shame and resentment. It would be nice to see less of it, and so I think we should use this word to identify it. Perhaps the bullies can gradually be shamed into extinction? (Yeah, probably not).

It is possible this word will have extra-web uses as well, but given that the Internet often seems to turn even nice people into boorish, aggressive yellers, I think its primary use will be online. If you find yourself needing it often IRL, get some new friends to hang out with and stop letting your Grandma treat you that way. 

The word is "Douché." Yes, smartypantses, it is a portmanteau. Please only deploy it on the truly deserving.  (You may have to use it on me when appropriate. I fear I am not immune from The New Cruelty.)

* Note: This word is not for cases where someone uses a stupid, racist, sexist, illogical, non-factual argument. It should be used solely to respond to someone who is largely or at least partly correct, but is being a real snakewad about it. (No offense to snakes, or wads.)

Here are some usage examples.

Betty: [posts a picture of dinner she cooked] Look what I made! It's my first attempt at stroganoff. 
Rachel: It looks like a pile of dog vomit with mushrooms.
Betty: Oh ... Well ... Douché. 

Reporter: [posts story she had a 2-hour turnaround time on, already unhappy that it's not her best work]: Here is my story about kittens.
Reporter: Douché. 

Steve: John, our friendship just means so much to me. I really think your a great person.
John: You mean "you're." 
Steve: Douché.