I enjoy reading The Huffington Post. It delivers my news in the crunchy-granola, tree-hugging, Obama-loving, non-homophobic, NPR-listening, organically-grown, Jon Stewart-worshiping, ballet-flat wearing format that makes me feel happy, informed and secure. If The Huff Post editors eat meat, I’m sure they feel guilty about it later. For years now, reading my news online delivered me from the hell that is local, conservative news programming – or worse – vapid, syndicated morning shows, which make me nauseous with their bright, Crest-strip smiles and regular visits from the local zoo. Meet Nagini, the albino python or a hoard of hissing cockroaches. Please – not before I’ve eaten my oatmeal, okay?
But then things changed. AOL came into the picture and acquired The Huff Post. Suddenly Arianna Huffington was in the hot seat on every liberal media program mumbling her way through interviews in a Greek accent thicker than a tub of Chiobani. Despite the fact that AOL is a true
bastard bastion of news organizations, up there with The National Enquirer and US Magazine Time, The Economist and The Atlantic, recent headlines have been less than compelling.
Now I’m not going to blow bullshit dust up your ass; I love my pop culture and I pepper my posts with references to the Kardashian Empire (now which one is Anastasia?) just as often as I defend Obama’s birth certificate or my desire to own Vladimir Putin as a guard dog.
There are certain professions that have earned public scorn over the years – and rightfully so. Deep down, we all hate lawyers, realtors, drug-peddling doctors, used car salesmen, mimes, politicians, the talking heads at Fox News, mortgage bankers, and those bitches who work in a high-end retail stores for ten bucks an hour, but still look down their noses at you when you walk in wearing frayed jeans and flip flops. Having been an attorney and a realtor, I’m a bit of an expert in the field of despicable professions and, hence, I’d like to add one more to the list: grocery store cashiers, hereinafter referred to as “cashiers.”
Before I get into the nitty gritty of why these seemingly innocuous people who merely slide food across a barcode scanner thousands upon thousands of time a day should be lumped in with the scum of the world, it’s essential to understand why we hate people who are employed in legitimate, yet contemptible, professions.
Attorneys have long topped the list of most despised people in the professional world. After all, it was Shakespeare who wrote, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” But what it is about the men and women whom we also refer to as counselors that irritates people more than Gilbert Gottfried’s voice? Is it because we perceive them as dishonest? Is it the scandalous fees they charge for services billed in six minute increments? Is it because they act like they were born with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything in the entire world and the rest of us weren’t? More likely, it’s because they pepper their conversations with words like hereinafter and quid pro quo. I know, I know – I’m the absolute worst offender. I did say I was an expert in this field. In fact, I have an encyclopedic knowledge about it…and a few other things.
Realtors – talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Dressed to the nines, they’ll drive you around in a glossy Mercedes or Lexus, show you the home of your dreams, buy you lunch if you’re lucky and conveniently forget to mention that the shambling building next door to your new place is a half-way house; that the odor you smell is not the realtor’s fart as she claims, but the nearby landfill; and that US Airways’ flight path passes directly over your house – and will rattle your windows, send the fragile salt and pepper shaker collection your grandmother left you crashing to the floor and cause you to miss half the punch lines when you watch The Big Bang Theory.
Physicians are one of the only professionals who are regularly rewarded for being mistaken. Thus, we dislike them because they keep their exorbitant fees – even when they misdiagnose us. Hell, if Dr. Gregory House was a real doctor and not a television character, I’d avoid the dude like the plague – even if I had the plague. He spends the first 50 minutes of each show being wrong. If an attorney was wrong that often, they’d be disbarred, forced to watch every episode of Matlock at gunpoint, drawn and quartered, then their body parts would be displayed on spikes outside the courthouse. Granted, I might survive if I let House treat me, but before he cured me I would likely: (1) bleed out my eyes; (2) have my head shaved for unnecessary brain surgery; (3) be accused of infidelity with a monkey in a foreign country; (4) suffer through at least one round of chemo; (5) become so jaundiced that House begins to call me “banana head”; (6) have my home illegally rifled through by Chase and Foreman looking for an “environmental” cause for my illness, but the pervs are really just sniffing my panties; (7) be prescribed high doses of steroids so that my face bloats up and House begins calling me “spaghetti squash head” instead; (8) have a kidney, my appendix and gall bladder removed; and (9) tell House to fuck off, at which point he’d refuse to treat me, so I’d stomp out of the hospital, my bare, yellow butt on display to the world as my flimsy gown flaps in the wind. The following day, the nurse practitioner at the walk-in clinic would correctly diagnose me with the common cold, but I’d die anyway because my immune system would be shot from the chemo I didn’t need in the first place. So that’s why people hate doctors. That and the fact that they’re just so damned smug.
Mimes offer a unique reason for our loathing – they’re just so annoying. Yeah, we get it. You don’t talk, and yet you’re communicating with us. Sort of. Whoopdee doo. Most deaf people don’t talk either, but I don’t pay them for keeping their mouths shut. You don’t see them out in the park with a jar in front of them, signing to me a plea for my spare change with their rapidly moving fingers. And they don’t feel the need to paint up their faces like an effeminate goth to make sure I know that they aren’t going to talk to me. And what’s up with you guys getting stuck in clear boxes? What’s wrong with you? I’ve never been stuck in clear box. How stupid can you be? Maybe if you got a tan, ditched the striped shirt and the beret, and used your words, the people manufacturing the clear boxes would stop trying to capture you.
Now that you have a general understanding of the reasons we abhor those employed in certain occupations, I again suggest that we add cashiers to the list. Why, you ask? They’re underpaid, forced to stand on their feet all day, and are often completely ignored by grocery store patrons – we should feel sorry for them, you say. I don’t think so. I agree that cashiers have a fairly menial job. It’s repetitive. It’s boring. There’s only so many times they can say, “So, did you find everything you were looking for today?” without gritting they’re teeth and suppressing the desire to jump across the register and rip our heads off. Still, when employed in profession so simple that you could, potentially, do it in your sleep, it really chaps my ass when cashiers do it poorly. And when it comes down to it, cashiers are as annoying as mimes, incompetent as doctors and deceptive as attorneys.
Example 1: Magazine Browsing
If you read my earlier post, Salman Rushdie Will Never Write For Cosmo, then you know that when it comes to magazines, any whorish rag with the skinny on Lindsay Lohan’s recently inflated face or the nookie that got Snookie knocked up will leave the grocery store with me and end up in my bed later that night. And I know I’m not the only one. By 2011, People was ranked the 11th most popular magazine in the country and had a U.S. circulation of over 3.5 million readers per issue, with US Weekly trailing behind with a U.S. circulation of over 2 million per week. Despite this fact, any cashier I get – brand new, experienced, young, old, male, female, black, white, mime – behaves as though no one has ever purchased a single trash mags from them. Ever. In fact, they act as though they have never seen one of these magazines before. It’s as if by buying a copy of Life and Style, I’ve opened up an entirely new world of pop culture for them. Suddenly, Earth is populated by starlets and boy bands and plastic surgery and reality television, when before it was a dull gray place, infested with dusty books to be read by candlelight.
Let’s take my most recent visit to Publix. I carefully place my four magazines on top of my BOGO cans of corn and watch patiently as they make their way down the conveyer belt, towards the mechanically moving arm of an experienced, middle-aged cashier I recognize from several previous visits. She slides my ice cream across the glass plate without even looking. Then my sour cream. A gallon of milk. Four boxes of Skittles. A bottle of KY Intense. Okay, three bottles of KY Intense. Not once does she pause. Not once does she look at me. In fact, her eyes have the same glazed look to them that I know mine take on during an episode of The View. Then her fingers graze the cover of Us Weekly and it’s as though she’s received an electric shock. Suddenly, she’s pert and interested. Instead of sliding the magazine across the glass, she holds it up and pores over the cover intently.
“Who’s this?” she asks, turning the front of the cover towards me and pointing at the raven-haired woman with her arms wrapped around her three younger girls on the cover, directly under the headline “Scary Skinny Demi Moore To Divorce Ashton Kutcher.
Hmm. That seems self-explanatory. “Demi Moore,” I say.
“Oh. She’s pretty, “ she responds, “but a little on the scrawny side, dontcha think?”
Really? Was it the photo of her drinking straw thin arms or the headline proclaiming her “Scary Skinny” that gave Demi’s emaciated figure away? “Umm. Yeah. I guess it’s all the stress from the divorce.” I desperately want to jab at the words on the cover and say, through gritted teeth, “It says, right here, that she’s getting divorced. It’s all in the headline. Everything you need to know is right here in one convenient location.”
A look of concern crosses her lined face. She shakes her head in disappointment. “She’s getting divorced? What a shame. Kids just don’t know how to stay married these days. I hope it won’t get dragged out. It’s so hard on children. She does have children, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah. Three.” I stare at her hard. Maybe she’s illiterate. But don’t you have to be able to read to get a job as a cashier? I mean, how do you fill out your application or read coupons? Just ring up the fucking magazine, I think, wishing I could reach across the space between us and perform a Vulcan mind meld on her.
“I wonder if she’s got a pre-nup. I sure do hope she gets to keep her kids.” She presses her lips together and furrows her brow, shaking her bleached-blonde do again. “She definitely needs to eat though. Can’t keep your energy up if you don’t eat. Poor thing.” You’d think she was talking about her neighbor or some lady she knows from church. Two seconds ago, she didn’t know who Demi Moore was and now she’s worried about the star’s weight and whether or not she’ll get custody of the kids. Finally, she drags the cover along the glass plate and I hear a satisfying beep come from the register. One down, three to go.
Of course, not all cashiers have been living in the Dark Ages, which makes buying my rags an even more arduous process as some of these men and women insist on discussing – ad nauseum (yes, I realize that is another obnoxious lawyer word) – their opinions about everyone on the cover. If I had a dime for every time a cashier said to me: “Insert Female Celebrity Name Here is one hot mess!” or “Now Insert Male Celebrity Name Here is all that and a bag of chips,” I’d have enough money to buy Time, Inc. and make the editors of People report all the celebrity news to me first – in person – while a masseuse rubs my feet as I lounge by my infinity pool situated behind my massive, ocean-front estate.
These are the same cashiers who possess the audacity to actually thumb through the magazine while I stand there. Waiting. Hello – that’s my magazine you are bending and creasing and (ugh!) licking your fingers in order to make the pages turn more easily. I am cautious to select virgin periodicals. If the cover is curling or has the tiniest of rips, I choose another one – usually from the back of the stack. And after watching a cashier rub her saliva all over the corners of my magazine, all I want to do is pluck it out of her fingers, toss it in the closest garbage bin and select another pristine copy to take home with me. To be clear, no one pops my magazines’ cherries but me. I love the crisp sound of the pages and the creaking of the stapled binding as I crack my copy open for the very first time. If I want a germy, beat-up-like-you-sassed-back-Chris-Brown copy of Us Weekly, I’ll steal it from my doctor’s office like everyone else.
Annoyance factor: 8. Incompetence: 3. Deceitfulness: 5 (By mangling my magazines, they are encouraging me to steal from the doctor’s office).
Example 2: Bagging Is Not A City In China
I have never been a cashier at a grocery store, nor have I ever bagged groceries professionally. However, I used to work in retail and there are basic rules to bagging any product that are just common sense. Cold, wet items are to be bagged with other cold, wet items. Canned items with canned items. Produce with produce. Heavy items shouldn’t be bagged with soft, squishy items.
For the record, I am an awesome grocery cart loader and unloader. As I shop, I cluster dairy items together, canned and boxed items together, vegetables and fruit together, frozen items together and meats together. I unload them in the same way to make bagging my groceries as idiot proof as possible. In fact, it surprises me that not a single cashier has ever commented on this fact. I know other shoppers don’t unload as carefully as I do. I’ve seen how they plop a package of hamburger meat right on top of a box of laundry detergent or mix canned foods in with their dairy. I take the extra time to make the bagging of my groceries as easy and simple for the cashier as possible. Still, week after week, I see bagged combinations such as this:
1) Sweating gallon of Breyer’s ice cream next to my mother’s Valentine’s Day card – make that stuck to my mother’s Valentine’s Day card
2) Gimongous cans of stewed tomatoes on top of my Pepperidge Farms loaf of bread
3) My untainted copy of People literally wrapped around a quart of milk like a Snuggie
4) Oozing package of raw chicken on top of celery because who doesn’t like a little salmonella while dieting
5) All fifty cans of cat food in a single, bag weighing approximately 18 pounds
6) Four bottles of relatively expensive pinot grigio in a single plastic bag – with a hole in the bottom of it that won’t break open until I pull the bag out of the trunk when I get home
7) Light bulbs sandwiched between two jugs of Ocean Spray cranberry juice
8) Can of Raid roach spray packed with fresh produce (I rarely buy organic, so my veggies already have enough insecticide on them already, thank you very much!)
9) Bakery department cake thrown into a bag sideways
10) Ripped open bag of baby carrots (the cashier actually picked up the few loose pieces that had found their way onto the conveyor belt and threw them into the grocery bag), two basil plants and a bottle of bleach
Are cashiers not trained in the fine art of bagging? I mean, if you are skilled enough to remember the codes for hundreds of produce items, shouldn’t you have figured out that a gallon of milk is fairly heavy and, that while bread may have iron in it, it isn’t actually made of iron and, therefore, should not be placed beneath the milk? Perhaps they aren’t tutored in this skill because it’s assumed that every idiot knows the basics of bagging. Last I checked, a degree in physics isn’t required to obtain a cashier position, so bagging can’t possibly be all that difficult. After all, I know how to bag properly and I’ve never even studied physics. Heck, I haven’t even mastered the metric system and I’m still a little fuzzy when it comes to multiplying numbers above 10.
Annoyance factor: 10. Incompetence: 10. Deceitfulness: 3 (Now they are stealing from me because I have to return to the store to repurchase items that were smashed or contaminated).
Example 3: What Knot To Do
Plastic bags are not sneaker laces. Do not – I repeat, do not – tie the handles of my plastic grocery bags into little knots to prevent items from falling out. Why? First, if you didn’t overfill the bags in the first place, you wouldn’t need to knot them. Second, do you have any idea how long it takes to untie 17 knots in 17 plastic bags – all of which were tightened into locks by the extreme weight of their contents? For-fucking-ever.
Third, after I struggle to untie the first few bags, I become frustrated and begin ripping the bags open. This is a bad thing because I actually reuse my plastic bags to dispose of kitty poo and litter each night. When you force me to throw away over a dozen bags that could have been recycled as poo holders, it makes me want to take the torn bags back to the store, place all of them over your head and tie them into a big knot. Have fun getting it untied in time. Fourth, by tying the handles into knots, you negate the purpose of the handle – to be large enough for me to utilize them as a carrying device. How can I slide the handles of the bags up and down the length of my forearms so that I can minimize the number of trips between my car and my kitchen when you’ve created new handles that are effectively the size of the eye of a needle? I am not Demi Moore and, thus, my arms are not that skinny.
Annoyance factor: 7. Incompetence: 6. Deceitfulness: 5 (Clearly, they are also working for the manufacturers of small animal poo bags and this is why they knot my plastic bags up so that they can’t be utilized for kitty poo disposal purposes).
Example 4: Forgotten Coupons
I am not a coupon clipper. Hence, on the rare occasion when I do manage to make it to the store with a coupon and present said coupon to a cashier, along with the appropriate item, I expect to actually have the amount indicated on the front of the coupon deducted from my bill. It’s a proud moment for me. I remembered to bring a coupon to the store. I can’t wait to see that small portion of a dollar with a minus sign in front of it on my receipt. I shouldn’t have to ask, “Did you remember my coupon?” Nor should I have to remind the cashier to remove coupons from the tops of cans or the sides of boxes. It’s his or her job. And when the cashier forgets to ring up my coupon, being sent to the front desk to stand behind a long line of lottery ticket and cigarette buyers in order to collect my 35 cents really pisses me off. Waiting in line is right up there on my list of favorite things to do, along with peeling the cover of my magazine off a wet milk carton, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on bread that’s been squashed to the height and width of a kid’s plastic ruler.
Annoyance factor: 5. Incompetence: 10. Deceitfulness: 5 (Do you really think that they truly forgetto use those coupons or are they just saving them for themselves or cheating the poor consumers as a whole?)
The other day, I was shopping at Walmart and, low and behold, I encountered an amazing cashier. She didn’t flip through my magazines or waste precious minutes lamenting the loss of Whitney Houston. Everything was bagged perfectly. I watched in amazement as she grouped my cheeses and dairy together in one bag, deli meats in another and vegetables in yet a third. I didn’t strain my back lifting the bags filled with cans because she didn’t overfill them. My wine bottles were first placed in slim brown bags before being double bagged and handed to me so that I could set them in the child seat portion of the grocery cart. Not a single plastic bag was knotted – and she removed the $1 off coupons from my wine bottles without me reminding her and successfully subtracted the appropriate amount from my total. I could swear that the exposed beams above me opened up to reveal angels singing a beautiful melody and a golden beam of light shone down upon this plump woman wearing a blue Walmart vest.
“Wow!” I cried. “You really know how to bag. I’m so impressed. Do you have any idea how many cashiers can’t bag for shit?” It was ridiculous, really. It was like complimenting someone for breathing well or not falling down while walking in sneakers.
The cashier smiled and nodded her head. She’d clearly been commended for her skills before. “I know,” she replied. “I try to teach the new ones, but they’re just clueless. But you made it real easy too – the way you grouped your groceries together and all.”
I knew it. Finally, the fact that I have mastered the art of unloading had been acknowledged. I cluster correctly. Cold with cold. Meat with meat. Produce with produce. And someone appreciated it. But most importantly, I’d found my perfect cashier – the Atticus Finch of attorneys, the Marcus Welby, M.D. of physicians, the absolutely nobody of mimes – and I needed to know more. Without hesitation, I asked, “Can I get a copy of your work schedule?” as I carefully jotted down the name on her badge – Shirley. She nodded her head and retrieved a Xeroxed copy from a stack at least an inch thick beneath the counter. Shirley had obviously been asked for her hours before. I tucked the piece of paper into my purse, still marveling aloud at how easy it would be to unload my husband’s favorite Yoplait yogurts directly into the fridge since she’d bagged them all together.
“You certainly have an eye for detail,” Shirley observed with a smile. “What do you do?”
“Oh, I used to be a –“ I replied, stopping myself just before I uttered the word, lawyer. Shirley wouldn’t understand that I had been to attorneys what she was to cashiers – a reason not to hate an entire profession. As a lawyer, I hadn’t cheated my clients or lied…much (I was a contract attorney – it’s called bluffing when utilized in the art of negotiation). In fact, I’d worked for the government, which meant the average grocery store manager earned a hell of a lot more than I did in a year. Finally, I grinned back at her and said firmly, “I’m a writer. I’ve got a blog.” Now there’s an honorable profession.
If you aren’t sick of reading by now, here’s the link about Denise Farley’s win as a champion Ohio bagger.
I am a sucker for a bargain. Every week, I hit the BOGOs (Buy One Get One Free deals – though they really should be called BOGOFs, considering the free portion of the deal is the most important) at my local grocery store, stocking up on olive oil, tea bags, lactose-free vanilla ice cream and A1 Steak Sauce. Okay, in the latter case, it’s more like Buy Seven Get Seven Free, but let’s not squabble over details. Regardless of my penchant for a deal, I pride myself on not purchasing crap we don’t use – which is why our pantry is not stocked with forty-four cans of green beans (Good lord, they can’t give those things away. They’re on sale every single week.) and why Mrs. Paul Fish Sticks remain in the freezer section at the store.
However, there’s something about Amazon.com’s $5 magazine sale that is simply mesmerizing. I love magazines – and for a time, my addiction to periodicals was becoming something of a financial burden, but less harmful to my esophagus than my issues with A1 Steak Sauce. I’d stock up as I waited in the grocery line, carefully stacking not one, not two, not three, but four trash magazines about celebrities and their silly little lives on top of my BOGO cans of diced tomatoes. At anywhere from $2.95 to $3.99 a pop, I easily spent ten to fifteen bucks a week just so I could keep up with who Justin Bieber was dating; whether or not Kim Kardashian’s right ass cheek had suddenly deflated – as I fully expect it will one day; and what species of monkey Snooki is and how I can expedite its extinction.
In this pop culture obsessed era, I can’t possibly keep up with the times any other way since I refuse to watch most tawdry reality programming on television and I don’t own a teenager. If I’d had the sense to purchase a child at the appropriate time, I’d have a serf at my beck and call who would not only be completely prepared to report to me a summary of this week’s Gossip Girl episode and the name of Katy Perry’s latest hit song on demand, but could also explain to me the allure of Chris Brown and why Rihanna continues to associate with him. Is she coming out with a new makeup line that includes eye shadow shades called “Bruise” and “Welt”? What? Too soon?
Were I a complete simpleton, life would be much less expensive because I would stop after snapping up my regular copies of Us Weekly and Life and Style. But I’ve got to have my Vanity Fair, Wired, The Atlantic, Time, Discover and a wide variety of other periodicals that my husband and I inhale the way a college philosophy major sucks up the smoke from the mouth of a bong. Then Amazon.com came into my life – and with it, emails advertising its innocuous $5 magazine sale. For the price of five copies of People, I could enjoy an entire year of Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic, Popular Science and Woman’s Day. Twelve whole months! But I didn’t stop at four magazines, I clicked the subscribe button again and again, each time mentally figuring my savings. I could read The New Yorker for less than eleven cents per issue; I’d finally have the opportunity to bury myself in the short stories I’d always aspired to write, and read reviews about plays and concerts and gallery showings I’d never be able to attend since I live over a thousand miles away in Florida. How sophisticated I would become – something a free gallon of Breyers had never done for me. And this is where we arrive at the nexus of my problem, otherwise known as Cosmopolitan.
As a twenty-something, upwardly-mobile young woman, Cosmo had been my bible, teaching me everything from how to build abs strong enough to weather a nuclear blast to how to select the perfect jeans for my arachnid-longish legs to how to perform fellatio with warm honey in my mouth without gagging. Okay, I only actually mastered the second item on that list, much to my husband’s chagrin. As I hit my mid-thirties, I discovered that there’s really only about a hundred sex tips out there and that the magazine recycles them, in the same way I pull out that dress I wore to the office Christmas party three years ago and wear it again – to this year’s party – hoping my husband’s co-workers were too drunk to remember that particular chartreuse number. I no longer care to know “What Men Really Think,” only what my husband really thinks when I ask him if I look fat in said chartreuse cocktail dress. Fully capable of achieving an orgasm, selecting a nail polish color without consulting an expert, and extremely competent at flat-ironing my own hair, Cosmo has lost its strange spiritual and maternal hold on me. Yes, I’m all grown up.
Yet, there I was, tempted by the opportunity to again peruse its glossy pages for a mere forty-two cents a month. I couldn’t buy a single can of diced tomatoes for that price. Perhaps there were new ways to remove bikini hair painlessly or a revolutionary naughty move I could try out with my hubby that didn’t involve sticky food products, electronics or furry handcuffs. I could be missing out. So unlike the fish sticks, I stuck a year’s worth of Cosmopolitan – the veritable whore of all women’s magazines – into my virtual grocery cart, paid for it with my debit card and awaited its arrival.
And so it came. Sealed in clear plastic lest the mailman drool over (or worse…ugh) the inevitable display of cleavage on the front cover – a marketing strategy that never quite made sense to me unless the publisher was secretly targeting lesbians and men – I opened it with the hope that something had changed in the decade since I’d read this particular rag religiously. But nothing had. With the sheer exception of Selena Gomez’s ample bosom gracing the cover instead of Cindy Crawford’s, not much was different – the layout, the general content, the sex tips, the platform sandals, the emaciated models – all the same. Except for one thing. The advertisements – which had gotten even worse.
I know. Before you say it – how could advertisements get worse? Especially in the pages of Cosmo. Well, they can. Or, more accurately put, manufacturers seem to have given up when it comes to lower-rent magazine ads – and the products they represent. In fact, they can’t be bothered to even give the product a decent name.
Case in point: Dolce & Gabbana’s fragrance, light blue. Dominating the back cover of Cosmo in a full page, color ad – generally one of the most expensive placements a sponsor can purchase – the promotion insulted me with both the female model’s wide-angled, white bikini-clad crotch shot, and Dolce & Gabbana’s failure to even try when it came to selecting a moniker for its over-priced eau de toilette. I mean, really. Light blue? That’s the best they could come up with? Were azure, aquamarine, beryl, turquoise, teal, sea, sapphire, ice, cerulean, topaz, ocean, daffodil, pale, Prussian, smoky, baby, royal, indigo, cobalt, ultramarine, cornflower, berry, sky, periwinkle, wisteria, violet, steel, electric, powder, cyan, midnight and Persian really already taken? It’s as though D&G’s marketing department decided to pull an April Fool’s Day prank on its designers and said, “Hey, let’s tell ‘em the focus groups LOVED the name light blue! We’ll say it test-marketed off the charts. It’ll be payback for last year’s crappy Christmas bonus. Italian bastards!”
Naming a perfume light blue is worse than just calling it blue. At least, blue is simple. In fact, it’s elegant in its purity and restraint. It’s evocative. It could be a color. It could be an emotion. It could be part of a French curse. Perhaps that’s why Chanel called one of its fragrances, Bleu de Chanel. (Don’t even try to argue with Coco or her company – even though she’s dead, her pearls and taste live on.) However, by prefacing blue with something as utterly dull as the word light, D&G effectively spit in our collective female faces, then said in a withering Italian accent, “You just weren’t worth the effort. We couldn’t be bothered to come up with something memorable or interesting or elegant, you silly readers of American slut magazines. In fact, we’re not even going to bother capitalizing the name. Vaffanculo!”
Now, I wouldn’t expect Wired or National Geographic to advertise perfume, so I turned to my trusty copy of Vanity Fair, the bastion of expensive advertising. Sure enough, D&G didn’t dare run an ad for light blue in VF’s pages. Why advertise their unimaginatively-named toilet water in a magazine read by people for whom sapphire and Tiffany blue are the norm? (What? I have sapphires. They’re my birthstone.) Possessing higher expectations than the average Cosmo disciple, VF readers have paid top dollar over the years for the likes of wordsmithing by Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, Dorothy Parker, Clare Booth Luce, Langston Hughes, A. Scott Berg, Dominick Dunne and Sebastian Junger. Somehow, I just don’t see Rushdie ever penning an column for Cosmo entitled, “Little Black Dresses That Will Garner You Death Threats” or Berg authoring an in-depth profile on Charles Lindbergh’s “Top Ten Sexual Positions Bound To Drive Your Man Airborne.” Nope. They have higher standards and – at 43 – I probably should as well.
But I was conned by the promise of a $5 bargain. Sucked into the frigid, air-conditioned pages of a glittering casino-like magazine splashed with bright, gaudy colors; tantalizing words like sex and orgasm and shoes and pedicure and handbag flashing at me like a strobe light above a one-armed bandit; and a veritable smorgasbord – an all-you-can-eat buffet, if you will – of information about understanding and pleasing the complex species known as Man, and how to look skinny, fashionable and youthful while doing it. And now, I’m paying for it. Five whole bucks – and I’m forced to look at the perfectly-waxed crotch of an anorexic, spray-tanned model wearing a white bikini (Hello! Always a mistake – I don’t care if they’re supposedly lined.) while being embraced by an equally-bronzed male model who stares at me mockingly while hocking a woman’s perfume that doesn’t have the decency to don an appropriately vivid and eloquent name in the same manner that one dons a robe before answering an early-morning knock at the door.
Before I completed my character assassination of D&G’s lame ass branding (How’s that for eloquent?), I figured I should see if any other designers, pseudo-celebrities or perfumeries put as little time and effort into naming their fragrances. Perhaps this isn’t indicative of disrespect for the Cosmo-level clientele on behalf of the perfume industry; perhaps the people who make “stink-um,” as my grandmother used to call it, are just lazy by nature. My research uncovered a vast spectrum in the fragrance-naming game, but here are a few of my favorites:
Cumming by Alan Cumming
Funeral Home by Demeter Fragrance Library
Full Choke by Francesco Smalto
Solar Donkey Power by Henrik Vibskov
McGraw Southern Blend by Tim McGraw
Of course, my taste leans towards the gutter and the latter sounds like a whiskey I’d buy if I drank whiskey. That said, even
morons celebrities like Paris Hilton put more thought into their perfume branding than D&G. Though Heiress, Can Can, and Fairy Dust aren’t names that reek of elegance or imagination, at least they smell of some level of effort, however small. And how embarrassing is that? Yes, Dolce & Gabanna, Paris Hilton did a better job at something than you – and it didn’t involve wearing an uber short dress, carrying an accessory animal, being talentless, or shrieking, “So hot!” when prompted.
And with that, I am cancelling my subscription to Cosmopolitan, folks. My aging heart can’t handle the rage that burns in me when insulted by fragrance ads aimed at vapid college students who think cunnilingus is the latin word for clever. Or worse, a sexually-transmitted disease. Bargain or no bargain, I can’t afford to believe there are more sexual tricks than I already know – or am sufficiently-flexible to perform upon request. Fashion has already been restricted to black, basic black, slimming back, lacy black, sparkly black, sexy low-cut black, clingy black, black Spanx and the jeans that Cosmo taught me years ago I could wear without looking ridiculously pear-shaped. And I understand my man – at least enough to know that my roasted rosemary chicken served up with steamed asparagus makes him deliriously happy and that he really appreciates it if I put the television timer on before we fall asleep at night. He’s my real bargain – and there’s not another one like him to get for free if I tried.
As with all As Seen On TV! products, I was blown away by the revolutionary new baking craze that is sweeping the nation. Bake Pops. Yes, I know. It’s mind-blowing. Cake on a stick. ON A STICK! Certainly, a nuclear physicist or Nobel winning scientist was behind this invention. What are Bake Pops, you ask? Seriously? You don’t know? Some of us clearly aren’t reading Wired, Newsweek, Time, Popular Science or Woman’s Day. Bake Pops are small round cakes with a stick inserted into them so that they can be dipped in frosting or chocolate and decorated to your liking.
No more eating cake off a plate. Talk about a nuisance. If I had a dime for every time someone turned to me at a party and said, “Cristy, I’d rather have a root canal than eat this slice of carrot cake off a plate with a fork. What a hassle!” To begin with, you’ve got to have napkins, forks, and plates available – and in an economy like ours, that’s just not a given. I can’t tell you how often I’ve simply fallen to my knees and sobbed upon discovering that Wal-Mart was out of plastic forks…again. Have you any idea how embarrassing it is to ask your party guests to eat cake with their fingers? Their nails become sticky with frosting and then they need extra napkins. Like you’ve got plenty of those to go around. It’s not like paper just grows on trees. Suddenly, you’re a friggin’ napkin ATM machine.
As a civilized society, we’re expected to multi-task – particularly at parties. Despite the fact that everyone – our families, our employers, our friends, our Facebook friends, our LinkedIn contacts, our fellow bloggers, our Twitter followers, our co-workers, our former co-workers whom we avoid because they left under less-than-favorable circumstances, and people we pretend to like at Starbucks, but just so they don’t spit in our pumpkin lattes – expect us to be able to do more in less time, we still only have two hands and ten fingers (unless you’re a carpenter, in which case, make that eight or nine fingers).
If there’s one thing there’s never enough of at parties, it’s chairs and tables. This is assuming you attend good parties. Now if the guy at work who picks his nose and keeps his boogers on a piece of notebook paper in his top desk drawer invites you to a party at his mother’s house, there is a chance that they’ll be plenty of places to sit and tables upon which to rest your paper plate. However, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, so the odds are that you’ll be standing around trying to juggle your plate, fork, and napkin in one hand, with your cell phone tucked under one armpit and a glass of punch in the other. And maybe Larry from down the street, slipped a little something into that punch. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge. Which means you’ll be tipsy. Or sloshed.
As you know, this is when things spin out of control. Melanie, that fabulous hair stylist you’ve been dying to get an appoint with, is there and is willing to work you into her schedule. Scraping your cake to one side of your plate with your fork, you set your cup of punch next to it. Then, withdrawing your cell from your armpit, you attempt, one-handed, to enter Melanie’s contact information. But you’ve had more than a few sips of Larry’s mysterious brew. Your balance is a little off. The hand holding the plate shakes from the added and poorly-distributed weight of the punch glass, and the pink liquid splashes onto the freshly-mopped, tile floor. Your phone rings in the middle of entering the appointment date and time into your calendar and, as you struggle to answer it without having to re-enter the information, you slip on the spilled punch and fall. Landing on your back, you watch in horror as the plate flies into the air, then plummets towards your head. When it’s all said and done, you’ve got a plastic fork in your eye and your hostess is pissed off because of all the napkins you’ve used to sop up the blood. But thanks to Bake Pops, that will never happen again.
Nor will Granny break her good hip in the inevitable frosting slip ‘n fall accident. Every year, thousands of elderly people slip on icing at their grandkids’ birthday parties. Most will die in the hospital of pneumonia – a common complication. Is serving a cake the size of a coffee table worth Papa Joe lying cold and dead in a grave? Is writing out “Happy Birthday, Amber” on a pink cake with a unicorn theme worth the loss of fourteen more years with Nana Gertrude? I don’t think so. Preserve a future for your children with their rambling, incoherent and crippled elders by purchasing Bake Pops. You can dip them (the Bake Pops, not their elders) in pink chocolate and sprinkle them with silver (inedible) snowflakes for little Amber next year. It’s almost like the real thing. Not quite. But then, how will your children ever experience feeding their grandparents by hand – and wiping the baby food and spittle off their mouths – unless you convert to the new Bake Pops revolution? Would you deprive your parents of their second childhood? I think not.
Of course, every hostess is worried about one of her guests choking to death because, in an attempt to emulate the Man vs. Food host, one loser will try to cram an entire slice of cake into his mouth at once. Nothing’s worse than having to explain to the paramedics, the medical examiner and the dead idiot’s wife that the deceased inadvertently killed himself because he thought he could top the portly Travel Channel television host. ”Watch me while I cram this entire cake into my mouth within the next two minutes!” he’d cried triumphantly. For the last time. Don’t let this happen to you. Why spend unnecessary hours being questioned by detectives, comforting the dead moron’s widow, and paying a cleaning crew to clean up the urine and other fluids that tend to ooze out of a body upon death when you can simply buy Bake Pops? It’s impossible for a drunken guest to squeeze an entire slice of cake into his mouth at once because Bake Pops are bite-sized.
In addition to preventing permanent disfigurement and death, this amazing new product will also help you avoid committing many of the dreaded, social faux-paux associated with cake serving and cake eating etiquette. For example, cutting the cake. Who does it? The birthday girl, the hostess, the guy with the Bowie knife in his sock? Do you begin cutting in the corner or, in the event that you’re serving the classic bikini cake, do you start with a nipple for the birthday boy?
How do you determine cake slice size? For example, do you give a translucent slice to the fat girl? What do you do if the fat girl passes her skinny piece to Nicole Ritchie (What? She doesn’t come to all of your parties? That’s ’cause you haven’t been serving Bake Pops!) and asks for the chunky, corner slice you’ve just plated – the one with all the frosting and three blue rosettes? If you were serving Bake Pops, this would never be an issue. Bake Pops are all the same size. Unlike cake slices, Bake Pops can be exactly the same. Not different, but equal. Yes, equal. If you choose, your Bake Pops can all be the same color, with the same sprinkles and the same number of rosettes. Or, if you’re planning a tea party, the vanilla Pops can be richer and taxed at a lower rate than the chocolate Pops…but that’s totally up to you.
A generous company, Bake Pops isn’t only committed to preventing blindness, saving lives and promoting portion-controlled diets, it is sincerely committed to recycling. In light of this fact, here are some other great ways in which you can use Bake Pops’s patented “stick” to bring even more efficiency, safety and enjoyment into your life.
1) Egg Pops: Tired of chopping your hard-boiled eggs using one of those uber-complicated, one step, egg slicers? Why not insert the Bake Pop stick into your egg instead? Save yourself all that sweaty, difficult, single-step slicing and let your teeth do the work for you! That is what your chompers were designed for.
2) Potato Pops: Try grilling these babies along with some New York strip steaks at your next pool party. Dip them in sour cream and chives – and your guests will be talking about them over the water cooler on Monday. Watch out! They can be a little warm in the middle.
3) Brussels Pops: Tell your kids that they’re cabbage-flavored lollipops – and serve them with plenty of butter. Kids love butter. And at their age, cholesterol really isn’t an issue, now is it?
4) Onion Pops: Talk about the perfect pre-date appetizer for your teens. No one’s gonna get pregnant at this Homecoming Dance. And no cooking required! Looking for a twist? Try it with a bulb of fresh garlic. Your eyes will burst into flames just trying to read a Twilight novel.
5) Poop Pops: For us dog lovers, we know nothing satiates our canine’s appetite more than another dog’s feces. Or, if your pooch is into the exotic, try using kitty poo – the litter tastes just like vanilla sprinkles to them! Don’t forget – nothing compliments an ass-kabob like a little au jus dipping sauce. Rover will lap it right up.
6) Soylent Pops: Looking to keep your carbon footprint as small as possible? Why not dine on your like-minded, green counterparts who, instead of dedicating their bodies to science, dedicated them to sustenance? To keep the cycle-of-life turning – and as green as possible – consider nourishing another human with your flesh and celebrate in the knowledge that no paper or plastic products will be used in the serving of your dead, cooked corpse.
7) Salt Pops: Why should a cow enjoy the ease of a salt lick whenever it wants, when you’ve got to concern yourself with seasoning your food or salting the rim of your margarita glass? Why rip open teeny tiny containers of salt or struggle with the hardened white mass stuck inside the restaurant shaker when you can carry your own discreet salt pop everywhere you go? What – you want to do shots? No problem. Lick your Salt Pop, slam that tequila and then suck on a slice of lime. Easily shared, Salt Pops will make you the favorite drunk at the bar.
For more information on Bake Pops, tune in to your favorite television station late at night when advertising is cheap or check out the demo on You Tube: Bake Pops Demo. Your kid’s eye could depend on it.