Did Someone Just Fuckin’ Say “Christmas”???

It’s only October.

But it’s late October, which means a few things in this consumerist society in which we’re drowning. The first, is the Party City enema everyone is forced to endure on television. I don’t watch much television, but Hulu shows enough commercials to offset any lost time we may have experienced otherwise. Thank you, Corporate America! It’s virtually impossible to miss the fact that it is, indeed, Halloween, but that doesn’t stop us from putting up our own decorations, even if our neighborkids are just going to rip them down and destroy them anyway. We’ll probably make our own costumes, like we always do in my family because we’re cheap, because we just love the idea of being someone else, for just a few hours. It’s an escape no other holiday can offer. In my opinion, costumes should be heavily marketed all year round, but that’s not this blog post. It’s another one.

You may have also noticed that it’s prime season for pepperings-in of holiday commercials. While still few in numbers, there is no denying that these earlybird companies are merely the first to dip their toes into the icy cold water of the dreaded SHOPPING SEASON. That means more commercials, more catalogs, more magazine ads, more store displays, more articles about the “big toy of the season” that you’ll definitely have to pre-order, because just the very mention of something potentially becoming popular, is enough to make everybody want it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; it’s only popular because consumers were afraid it would become too popular, and so they take “precautionary” measures, and those precautions result in what we call A Clusterfuck.

Since I’ve been cognizant of the phenomenon of holiday product pushing, I’ve always noticed the stark absence of commercials for clothing, other than Macy’s or Kohl’s, and those ones are fuckin strange. The ads show a group of people usually laughing, and they’re bopping around or moving in some unnatural way for hanging out, and literally nobody is saying anything. Everyone is just laughing and smiling. What was that shoot like? Was it… like this….?

Director: “Hey, put these pants on, and get in there and laugh.”
Actor: “At what?”
Director: “I don’t know, just laugh. You’re having a great time wearing that sweater and scarf and super tight pants.”
Actor: “That’s not funny, though. What am I laughing at?”
Director: “Think of something funny. It’s method acting.”
Actor: *shrug* “Okay.”
Director: “Pick up that giant red ball, too, and throw it at her.”
Actress: “Me?!”
Actor: “You want me to throw the ball at her?”
Director: “Yeah, it’s fun. It’s what people do in scarfs and jeans. Make sure you get that kid laughing too.”

I’ve seen some good old fashioned snowball fights on commercials for clothing, too. Mostly for outdoor clothing, but some featured people without coats -but with scarfs and earmuffs and gloves- throwing snowballs at each other. I don’t know.

The majority of holiday ads are geared toward children and teens. You know why. It’s because they’re the ones who are doing all the watching; watching TV, streaming Hulu, or they’re checked into YouTube to watch some idiot watching something else. They’re getting their daily dose of commercials, and they’re going to know exactly what they want for the holidays, because it’s not just the adults who lose their minds over the next Tickle Me Elmo, it’s the young ones too. They know what The Big Ticket is, and if they don’t see it for themselves on TV, they’ll hear all about it, and you bet your ass they’re going to let you know. And then, the deal is fuckin sealed for you, because if you don’t get that thing, you didn’t do enough. Doesn’t matter what else you get them. If it’s not that particular thing, you get to hear about how you should have pre-ordered it, and you’ll learn the names of 16 other kids who did get it, and you realize holiday consumerism is a scam, and watch your hard earned money just sit there on the floor, because it’s not The Big Ticket.

And then they play with something they already owned. Is that in the holiday ads? Where the kid just says fuckit, and starts playing with the Legos he was playing with the night before? Or where they get mad that they can’t have candy canes or bell-shaped chocolates for breakfast? Where are those ads? I remember one time, my dad put dry Lucky Charms in my stocking, just to get me to eat cereal instead of candy. I ate the marshmallows, and left the rest. Holiday Loopholes.

Speaking of loopholes, there needs to be one for relatives, because physics has forbidden me from being in two places at once. I’ve used up all of my freebies with the universe, so now I can only be in one place at one time, and that essentially guarantees that someone is going to be feeling like the asshole (spoiler: it’ll be me). I have to tell somebody no, or at the very least, reschedule for a time that is convenient. You know what isn’t convenient? Having to tell someone that they are the person you chose to reschedule. Friggin holidays… creating unrealistic expectations and incredibly realistic arguments since too-long-ago.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but there’s a holiday we celebrate here in the United States, and it’s called Thanksgiving. It’s a bullshit holiday by its very existence, but it’s cloaked in an air of “appreciation” so people aren’t allowed to talk shit about it. You have to be thankful. Don’t be a dick. That’s for the other 364 days of the year. Surely, you can spare one day of your year to not be so greedy, because that’s what Thanksgiving is about!

NO IT ISN’T.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a food holiday that we use as an excuse to eat more than we normally do, and we pretend to be nicer than we really are. There are not usually gifts involved, but like Christmas or Chanuka, there is a fair amount of prep work that must be done, in order to successfully drive you insane execute the holiday. There is usually a big-ass turkey as the star of the meal, unless you’re a vegetarian, or you have a weird bird thing. I don’t know what people eat, if they’re not having turkey. I could eat turkey every day for the rest of my life, and be alright about it. Aside from that, you gotta have potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and pie. That’s the big four, as far as I’m concerned, and I would need nothing else on my plate, to make it a good night. But for most people, that’s just the appetizer.

I used to run a Biggest Loser competition at my old job, and when Thanksgiving came around, I had to tune everyone out, because even someone who is trying to lose weight will still glorify the horrific extent of consumption that happens on this holiday. It’s almost a necessity to over-indulge. Americans are convinced that this day just doesn’t count, and their bodies won’t pay for the random day of odd dieting that could easily equal 3 days’ worth of caloric, sodium, and fat intake. The fact is, if you give a day a special name, Americans will find a way to incorporate food into it, even if we’re unhealthy. It’s what we do. It’s why we are the way we are. If you try to figure it out, you will get lost (make sure to bring some snacks, in case you get hungry along the way).

I’ve seen some Thanksgiving dinners that were ridiculous. My sister and mom are notorious for doing way too fuckin much. 3 turkeys, AND ribs, AND roasts and stuff. And that doesn’t even include the milliondy-four sides they have prepared. You’d think they were going on vacation, and wanted to cook up everything in their house before they left. Nope, just cramming enough food for 50 people into 10 people. Because it’s a celebration! It’s weird how far we have come, from celebrating our hard work paying off in a plentiful harvest, to spending $500 on a meal that normally costs you $40 to make. Happy Thanksgiving.

The funniest thing on Thanksgiving, I think, is the sheer number of hours we spend watching the Christmas commercials. You think you’re watching football, or the Macy’s parade, but you’re just being violated by the grubby intentions of corporate America. They know you’re watching. They can practically smell the food on your breath. They know the kids can see, and if they aren’t in the room, that’s okay, because the toy ads play just a little bit louder than the show you’re watching. The second that one kid hears the annoyingly sugary voice of a woman excitedly telling you about a tiny plastic dog that just shit out some puppies, the stampede is imminent. They need the toy, but they also need to see the commercial for the toy. Right after that, while you’re still reeling from the sound of screams, it’s the commercial that tells you what your wife wants for jewelry. They know your wife can see, and if she isn’t in the room, that’s okay, because the jewelry ads play on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

Let me tell you something about jewelry ads: they’re funny as hell. The only commercial funnier than jewelry ads (and As Seen On TV ads) is a food commercial. Sidetracking for a second… What kind of reality exists, where someone takes a bite or a drink, and they close their eyes and breathe in deeply so their shoulders shrug up toward their ears, and they smile, so you know they’re thoroughly enjoying what they just consumed? Seriously. It’s lunch meat. It’s coffee. It’s a pasta dish. It’s a damn chocolate that is gonna send you to heaven, apparently. I have never eaten anything like that, in my entire life, and I love food more than I love some of my siblings. But jewelry ads are so fake, they make the food orgasm scenes look like Shakespeare in the park.

“This Christmas, show her you mean forever. Get her the Eternal Sweetheart Wife In Love diamond set from Shitz’s.”

Let me stop you there. I like the fact that they’re encouraging people to show love, instead of just saying it with dumb old words (who does that anymore?) but this is a pretty expensive way to say it. Diamonds? I’d much rather have $400 in nachos, or massages, or shoes, or cookware, or books, or paint, or scrap wood. In fact, don’t even spend that much money on me, unless it’s in car repairs or vacation details. Diamonds have no purpose, and still, they’re constantly pushed on couples, as a means to prove how strong their love is. Why not just get her the 100% steel set instead? That shit is strong. Not even jet fuel can melt it.

Christmas is the time for buying a car. If you have been putting off buying a new Lexus, now is the time. If you have perfect credit, come down and get the best deals, so we can work on your credit score. Get $1,000 off a $45,000 car, with no money down, and 0% APR. There’s no better time to surprise your spouse with a major expense, without discussing it with them first, financially. Hurry in to your Lexus dealer, before all of the cars are gone… because that’s something that ever happens. When this sale ends, it ends, until our New Year’s sale, and then our Presidents’ Day sale, and then the St. Patrick’s Day sale, and the Easter Sale, which is right before the Spring Clearance! See your Lexus dealer TODAY, and get a large red bow at no extra cost! The large red bow indicates that it’s a gift, even though the payments will be a joint expense, and you’ll probably also drive or ride in it. It’s a gift for them, which you’ll be able to successfully hide until Christmas morning, because they’ll never look in the garage. No garage? That’s okay, we will drive the car up into the driveway for you, when you’re ready to present it to your spouse (as a gift, for your spouse) and then sneak away stealthily on foot, back to the dealership on Christmas day! We have nothing to do, trust me, it always works out this way. It’s the Christmas miracle.

It would be funny to see holiday commercials change with the season, to reflect how tired we are of the ads by mid-December. The guy has the sweater on, and he’s making the Angry Dad Face at the kid, who has half of his clothes off, and the pants have grape juice and cheesy fingerprints on them, and the dog is working on the turkey, on top of the table, while the woman is drinking a glass of wine and running away. There’s half-written Christmas cards on the floor, without stamps on them. A toddler is pulling a Santa costume out of Dad’s bottom drawer. Nana is snapping the Christmas records in half. The director might tell them: “I don’t give two fucks, I just want this nightmare to end,” and they’ll all be motivated by that.

I’m not ready for the holidays yet. I can dig Halloween, because I love candy, and free candy is always good (well, maybe not always, don’t listen to me, Kids). I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving, and I certainly don’t want to think about Christmas yet. There are so many things that have to happen between now and then, and if I start thinking about the holidays, the other things will just become unimportant bumps in the road, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy each day, and experience each bump for what it is. We are always so obsessed with time going by, that we’re forever reminding ourselves of what’s to come, instead of just living it when it gets here. When it finally does arrive, we are too busy thinking about what’s next, to fully appreciate what is happening. Let the days go by, but don’t forget to live them. Make something special out of each day. Just like Mr. Rogers said for you to do. I’m copying him, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s only October. Let it be.

-jg

The “Custumor” Is Always Right

I’m one of those people who drives around checking out billboards and signs, looking for typos, or unintentional suggestive images, and other clever shit. Awhile back, I saw a sign outside of a strip mall near me, which has a Kmart and a grocery store and Verizon store and all that fun consumerist crap. The strip mall has that stuff, not the sign. But the sign said:

“Custumor Parking Only”

What the fuck is a Custumor? I’m not saying I never make mistakes, because I think I have before, but this was no mistake. The sign had to go through a process, consisting of at least two – if not all – of the following steps:

    1. whatever writing/typing/printing that went into writing the description to begin with, which
    2. then goes to a proofreader, which
    3. then goes to someone who approves it, which
    4. then gets typed up and finalized and
    5. sent to a media company for print.

And yes, I realize the company is probably going to quote policy on printing “exactly as the custumor presents it to you.”

But what about when the sign got delivered to the store? Nobody caught it, even then?! Not the idiots who received it against the packing list? Not even the idiot manager?? When the idiot putting the sign up was drilling the holes in the metal, did they completely miss the glaring error??? They should hear of their idiocy. Perhaps if someone had broken the news to them sooner, this idiot shit wouldn’t be happening (but then I wouldn’t have this brilliant material, so nevermind).

Know what else I hate?

“Let me put you on hold, and I’ll see if I can find the answer for you.”

Only, when they come back on the line, they tell me that they’re transferring me to someone else. That’s not an answer! That’s a fucking repeat performance, on my part! I don’t want to have to ask my question 4 times, just to not be helped by anyone. I called you for help! That’s when I hit ’em with: “Cool, let them know what my question was before you transfer me, would you?”

It’s especially nerve-grating when you have to transfer to numerous departments, because nobody knows what’s going on, and you have to give your access information every single time. “Ok I’ll need to access your account, can I get the last 4 of your social? Your zip code? Okay, and your date of birth? Aaand, your address? Yeah, and the exact time you last took a dump? Okay, and, your account number, please? Great. Now how may I help you?”

Well you fucking can’t, I’m sure, but let’s bring more people in on this clusterfuck, what the hell. The more people who get to deal with me, the better. I actually almost sort of pity any customer service representative who has ever had to deal with me. Even on my best day. On my best day, I love messing with reps. On my worst day, I channel all of my frustration from the days when I worked in a call center, and I convince myself that my wrath is a rite of passage for the rep lucky enough to be making the choice to work in a call center now. They deserve it. They need it.

I’ve worked in every side of customer service, and they each come with their own specific agony. I’ve done cold calling, insurance claims processing, inbound sales, member services, billing, collections, and mail correspondence calls, to name a few. I’ve sold CDs, clothing, phones, and dietary supplements. I’ve worked as a competitive employee, and as an equally competitive team member, as well as in thankless positions that got no recognition or reward. I’ve dealt with state departments, doctors, angry parents, sick and injured people, and people who threatened to “come find me” if I didn’t stop calling. There wasn’t anything about the easiest of customer service jobs that was remotely enjoyable. So please believe me when I say I understand how much it sucks to wake up to the knowledge that you have to drag your ass to a customer service job. Truly.

I also know that I don’t care how you make your money, as long as you do the job you’re being paid to do. And if that includes going back into training, so you can more effectively help me when I call and ask you for the low-down on your area of expertise, then that’s probably what you need to do. I’m just a consumer, though, what do I know?

I went to Wal-Mart, a chain well-known for having terrible customer service at their brick-and-mortar locations. Maybe it’s the area where I live, or maybe it’s the caliber of people who are willing to show up every day, but the customer service at the location in my town is probably one of the worst ones. If they’re not loudly reading your full name and address off your license in full earshot of anyone in line, they’re playing(?) dumb until you just give up and do their job for them, or just walk away. I would rather throw away a gift card, than to have to troubleshoot it at customer service. I’m that petty.

There’s a gas station/convenience store chain in our area, that doesn’t require their cashiers to provide anything more than the bare minimum customer service. They count the money, and put the stuff in a bag… sort of like a bank robbery. They don’t acknowledge you; they just start scanning your shit, and yell at you if you don’t drop all of your items quickly enough. They don’t tell you the total; they just expect you to read it off the screen yourself. They don’t give you a receipt unless you ask for it, and they don’t say anything to you once the transaction is done. It’s an oddly cold practice, but it doesn’t require people skills, which is probably the main perk to the job. A high school diploma/GED is not required, and you can be any kind of felon or addict you want. As long as you don’t mind spending a lot of time refilling kerosene right next to the register, you’re in! Welcome to the team! (they don’t probably actually say that, because they’re rude).

There is also a local restaurant, which I won’t name, because I don’t want to give them any free advertising, and it’s about a stone’s throw from my house. They usually have live music and pretty good food, but it’s a bar, basically. The guy who owns it is an asshat, and the employees are all junkies, and even though that’s status quo for most places, this was some velvet rope treatment type of shit. Matt and I got overcharged one night when we went there to see a friend’s band play, and the next day, we saw that we had also been charged for another table’s bill. We brought the statement (online banking on an app) to the restaurant to see the manager about getting it cleared up, and shit went all kinds of wonky from there.

First of all, they wanted us to just take their word for it, that there was no double charge, even though two different amounts were showing as debits from my account. No evidence to back up their claim, no reasoning they wanted to share with us, just their word. Of course, I don’t take anyone’s word for anything, especially when it’s money at a bar. I wasn’t having any of it, so the guy asked if he could take the phone out back so that they could “double check against the database of charges.”

That’s a hard FUCKNOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH. There’s got to be a better way!

The guy says, “I’ll go get the printed list of transactions.” Well why didn’t you suggest that first? That seems way easier than taking my phone back there. The guy comes back with the list, and he’s looking through it like a proper accountant, and he looks at us and says he can’t find our credit card swipe anywhere. He double checks. He triple checks. This is a bartender, by the way, not the manager. We haven’t even gotten to see The Wizard at this point. The bartender tells us the chargearen’t on the ledger, and just looks at us, hoping we’ll take his word for it, like he suggested already.

“So?” I says to him.

“Soooo…. It’s not on there.” Spinning my wheels with this guy was getting old, so I demanded the manager come out. And before I knew it, he appeared; his banana yellow shirt looked almost distorted, or like an upside-down light bulb, as it clung to his gravity-defying beer belly. The oily sludge in his hair seemed to be permeating the skin on his face and neck, and probably his back (*shudder*). His Dockers were horizontally crinkled at the top of the thigh, telling that he had been sitting for a long time (probably doing nothing). But the only thing I could focus on, were his annoying gold chains swingin’ about. He was so slimy and disgusting, that Matt still talks about him, to this day (he encouraged me to be more descriptive, because this did no justice to how vile he was. He was the epitome of a sleazebag bar owner.) His smug-ass face (smug ass-face?) made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want to be bothered. I don’t know what he was doing back there, but it was only 10:00 AM, so he couldn’t get the waitress to offer us a beer, and that put him at an obvious unease. He wanted to get back to whatever he was doing. And this time, free alcohol wasn’t going to get us to cooperate. So he started looking through the useless ledger, and asking us – in what can only be described as the whiniest voice I never expected to come out of his mouth – what we thought he should do.

Not my company, asshole. I don’t think you’re paying me to make your business decisions. In fact, you’re not paying me any of the money you owe me, so let’s get to that. I tells him, “I think you should give me the $25 you charged me for someone else’s drinks.” And you know what this clown decided was the best response to throw back at me?

“What if that extra charge doesn’t go through, how am I gonna get my 25 bucks back?”

I walked away at that point. There are not many things in this world that are worth $25 to me, and that was absolutely not something I would have thought was worth $100/hour. I would have gladly paid the $25 again just to avoid the exchange altogether.

The worst part about being “helped” by someone, is when the actual transaction/exchange is over, but they have about 140 more things to say. So you get to the point where they’re no longer useful to you, but they still want more of your time than what you’ve already given them. They want to tell you about their website, and all the dumb shit you can do on there, and they want to tell you that they’re available monday through wednesday, and friday from 8-4, except for the hours of 10-3, and they want you to know that they strive to provide the best customer service, so you’ll be getting a follow-up call to ask you some questions about the call where you asked them questions. For someone who does as much Consumer Reporting (ahem*complaining*ahem) as I do, you’d think I would be watching the phone for that call, for the opportunity to recount all of the things the rep did that weren’t up to my standards.

Well I hate that call. I don’t like any automated calls, and I get a ton of them. Appointment confirmations, school updates for my kids, surveys about whateverwhocares, or some cruise that I definitely did not inquire about. I didn’t inquire about a cruise. The only inquiry I will ever make into a cruise, is to ask why the fuck anyone would ever go on one. That’s the end of the inquiry. If there’s anything I hate worse than interacting with a robot on the phone, it’s being isolated in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of humans.

Cruises are a lot like life on Earth, in that way. We’re just a bunch of beings isolated in the middle of nowhere (space). And life, like the ocean, is unpredictable and powerful. I guess the difference is, I just don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of rich assholes in the middle of the ocean. I’ll take my chances with my friends and family and all my cool stuff, on dry land.

Are cruise-takers even called customers, when they’re on the ship? Are they cruisers? (I just checked, and they are called cruisers, so I guess I know my yachtie lingo, and can now set forth on my journey to swindle a rich dude to take me as his trophy wife!)

I was joking about that last part, before anyone comes for me about being anti-feminist, or misandristic, or whatever. I am nobody’s trophy, nobody’s wife, and nobody’s anything. I am sometimes a customer, though, depending on how you use the word.

An entry from the late 14th century (spelled “custumer,” which might explain the typo, possibly, a bit) states that a customer is a: “customs official, toll-gatherer,” but the entry after that, referred to the Shakespearean definition implying prostitution. So if someone is described as “a cool customer,” that guy is probably getting some that night. Currently defined as “someone who buys things,” it’s safe to say that neither definition carried over into the 21st century very well. It also currently has a second definition:

2.

a person or thing of a specified kind that one has to deal with.

Now that’s more like it. I think we can agree that I’m the good ol’ 21st century definition. The jury is still out on whether or not the strip mall guy’s boss’s boss is a fan of 14th century English. 

 

-jg

High School (Not) High (Enough)

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a banquet at my kids’ school, and it really opened my eyes to why I used to smoke so much pot in high school: it’s because high school kids are fucking annoying as hell.

Don’t believe me? I’ll give you some examples.

At this banquet, there were 20 tables. Each table sat 8 people. It wasn’t going to be a very big event. When my family of 4 arrived, there was only a total of 8 kids there. Did they all sit at the same table? Of course not, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Let ‘em spread out. My family sat around one half of a table that was in the middle of the room, and left the other half of the table open for another family of 4 (or fewer, whatever).

Here’s where my first example begins: as the other students started arriving, the sitting students would scream their names, as if they hadn’t seen them for like, THREE WHOLE HOURS. And one by one, these kids were invited to “The Cool Table” at the front of the crowd, leaving the rest of the peasants to feel collectively excluded. I didn’t even know that shit still existed.

And can I just sidetrack for a second, about the fact that MY table WASN’T The Cool Table?! I mean, my family is fucking hysterically funny, and we have THE BEST dinner time conversations. If our table isn’t The Cool Table, then I don’t want to be cool, I guess, and it’s my choice, not because they said I wasn’t.

Back to the examples of my nightmares personified. The Cool Table started filling up, until there were like 450 kids at this table. What I want to know is, how is it The Cool Table, if everyone is sitting at it? Wouldn’t that just be A Table? As for the handful of parents and other students who weren’t screamed at invited to sit with all those hip turds, I’m sure they all loved hearing the sound of screeching banshees in their dreams last night too.

The Cool Kids started taking the chairs from the other tables, while those people were up at the buffet, WHICH WAS AMAZING. The buffet, I mean, not the stealing of chairs. That was pretty annoying, because they took 6 of the chairs from our table while we were gone, and we had to steal them from other jerks from Less-Cool-But-Still-Pretty-Cool tables. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I have principles, and I was not about to eat a whole plate of delicious meatballs while standing up. Those kids thought I wouldn’t be that lazy, but they obviously underestimated me.

The banquet presentation began, and just in case you were wondering, no it did not shut them up. On the contrary, there was a slideshow, so every time one of their faces was on screen for even a half-second, they would erupt in a roar of laughter and screams. This went on for 10 long minutes. It was a nice slideshow, and I’m sure they were just excited. But, I’ll go back to my earlier statement about having to cope with that excitement, with the help of my bff, Mary Jane.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Well, my kids don’t do that stuff.” And I would say to you: shutup and stop lying to yourself. Just because your kids aren’t doing these particular things, doesn’t mean they aren’t acting like little shitheads when you’re not around, and they’re allowed to be “cool.” Believe me, they’re doing just that. And they’re good at it. No matter how great you think your kid is, I guarantee there is someone whose nerves they love to work on. Maybe it’s you. Who knows.

Some people like to say, “When you were their age, you did that too,” and to some extent, they’d be right, but I wasn’t even remotely excited about anything my peers were doing in the 90s, so they’re also kinda wrong. I mean, I remember being annoying, but everyone is. Everyone is annoying, including your kid, remember? But there’s a difference between being annoying, and being an experience that everyone has to live through. Perhaps it has something to do with how big the person’s platform is, how many people they reach with what they’re doing and saying. In that vein, we can rest a lot of the blame on social media, and the constant flow of positive reinforcement kids/teens (and adults too!) receive from their peers online. They adopt the position that they have gained unconditional acceptance among others, and that the virtual flow of adoration is going to be relatively similar in their real-life interactions.

So maybe yours is not screaming at the top of their lungs, to welcome a peer to the table in the most extravagant way possible. Maybe they’re the peer that is being showered with those feelings, making them believe they are extra special, just like everyone else who walked in. Maybe yours is wildly unpopular, and would die to feel the acceptance that others so freely give away. Maybe yours is like me, and realizes that, after you graduate high school, shit changes. Prom King and Homecoming Queen don’t translate well on a resume, and certainly not when it comes to keeping yourself alive.

My high school experience was full of days that I swore I had wished away hard enough, but didn’t. Every day was a struggle, in and out of school, and graduation day seemed like an eternity in the future, to the point where I couldn’t even decide what that would look like. I just knew high school was not what I thought life would be like, so I tried to laugh through as much of the bullshit as I could, which was a lot, it turns out. And as soon as I graduated, life got real.

I was back at the starting line, with everyone else, even the popular kids, and the century was turning. The next generation was already being born, and technology was changing the way we perceived each other (and life). The internet taught us how to parent, and we took those tips (sometimes from people who weren’t parents, and had no education on the topic) and we ran with them. We kept checking back, to make sure we were doing what everyone else was doing, and NOT doing what everyone else thought was wrong. It changes all the time. One day spaghetti is the best thing for kids, and the next day, it causes brain death. We could no longer afford to make the mistake of not being in-the-know.

Spaghetti doesn’t cause brain death, so if you’re not one of my regular readers… I exaggerate sometimes. Go ahead and feed your kids spaghetti. Or don’t, I mean, I’m not your kid’s parent, so that’s just some advice you can take or leave. I feel like they won’t die without spaghetti, but I’m no doctor.

Innovations in social media and personality shaping, as well as unrealistic hyper-active parenting woes, as well as the deadly sharpening of peer scrutiny and judgment, have all created a monster. Kids are being held to impossible standards, not by parents (though that’s another topic I could go on about) but by their peers. They feel the need to change. They feel the need to chase perfection. They feel the need to fit a mold. They feel the need to replicate what others admire. It’s just an image, based on the heavily edited photos and videos they see online and on television and in magazines, and we know this, but girls and guys alike are all susceptible to it. It isn’t just the ladies who are feeling the pressure. It’s everywhere, and if they aren’t adhering to the latest tweet or post from a major influencer (which is a fucking job now), they can expect to be rejected everywhere in their physical life.

That’s something I find annoying, and new. I didn’t have to deal with social media, so maybe that’s why I think things are so much worse now. Remember, I thought high schoolers were annoying before; there is nothing new about this. The part I find new, is the immediate broadcast of every feeling and reaction people have, before they have the opportunity to process the emotion. A minor tiff between friends can easily escalate to someone’s entire life being ruined, because social media allows us to share our feelings (about a person or event) amongst a wide net of people. The bigger the audience, the more people to share in that view, and the faster that immediate reaction turns into a group opinion. I’m not sure how I would have made it through high school, if I had to deal with social media. Knowing my own self, and my own mental health, I can honestly say I may have been one of those cases that didn’t make it out alive. It’s a scary thing to realize, especially when it’s mapped against my own daughter’s experience in this modern world.

Neither of my kids have social media, mostly for the reason that I don’t want them to be subject to the cruel judgment that is obviously the result of others’ insecurities. When they’re grown, they’ll have the choice to jump on the Social Media Bandwagon of Doom, but that will be then, and this is now, and I won’t allow it to work its corrosive magic on my offspring’s sweet minds. It’s not helpful. If my kids wanted insecurities projected onto them, they’ve satisfied that interest fully, by tormenting each other every single day. Getting into unfair biases on looks, body fat, talent, taste, and opinion, is something they can do without, for now. As I said, that’s a choice they’ll make for themselves, and hopefully once they see how fucked-up it is, they’ll just live in the real world and call it fucked-up enough.

I am fully aware that I am subjecting myself to criticism every day, and that I am also still vulnerable to unfair attacks, but it never occurred to me to care what others think, so until I’ve caused harm to someone, I’m not likely to apologize. Yes, this post is about Parenting and Pot, in the same sentiment, but I’d much rather be judged for making investments in my kids’ health and well-being while under the influence of cannabis, than to be that person who has nothing better to do than look for shit like that on the internet. I’m not beating my kids. They’re fed, they’re clean, they’re up-to-date on their education and current events. They don’t swear in my face, they don’t get physically violent, but they know not to be pushed around. They are accountable for their whereabouts, they aren’t partying (yet), they care about safety, and they are open about it. They care about humans as a species instead of a group of smaller sub-sets to be classified. They show love every day, as well as respect. And, super important, they see how plastic their generation is. They know how fake it is, and how much manipulation and hypnosis goes into growing up in the age of social media.

Not saying my kids are better than yours. They’re annoying too. But they’re well-adjusted enough to know they don’t want to be applauded into a room by attention-starved kids, who are really just priming the pump for reciprocated adulation. And that’s something I can feel good about, even without the influence of Mary Jane.

-jg

*Please note that I think students who participate in activities and get excited about school are absolutely wonderful. Students who could care less about the time and effort that is being given to them in the name of a free basic education: crap. Sorry. It’s my blog, and as much as I criticize schools, they’re still providing a service to your child, that you aren’t providing. (I know, homeschooling is a thing, but I can’t tell you how much I MYSELF ironically complain about the free school system, which is actually what I am talking about. No need to educate me on the fact that homeschooling is a thing.) I used to hate school, but I realize how valuable people’s time is, and teachers get paid bullshit to sit in a room with a whole bunch of annoying kids who aren’t all having their best day, day after day, after day after day. It’s hardly rewarding. The school I am speaking of in this story, is a wonderful school. The students work hard, and they have fun. Sure, there’s exclusion and constant evaluation and fake praise, but anyone in a thankless job such as -oh, i don’t know- a teacher, could tell you that there is a healthy dose of all that shit in any job. It doesn’t end after high school. This article was purely satirical, in the name of justifying the reasons I hated being in high school, and the reasons I hate seeing the weird unfair treatment teenagers bestow upon their peers now. I guess I’ll always be in high school, in my heart.

No FOMO, or A Summer Without Facebook

Just after el cinco de Mayo of this year, I closed my facebook account. I didn’t just deactivate it; I shut that bitch down for life. I remember that it was right after el cinco de Mayo, because one of the last things I posted was a story about hearing French people say the phrase “sink-o duh my-o” while telling each other their plans for the ‘holiday‘ upcoming. Not many people of Mexican ancestry up here, but everyone was celebrating, thinking they were being supportive of some sort of Mexican Independence.

El sigh.

For the final couple of weeks on the ‘book, I was simply going through the motions: waiting to close the account, because I had already gotten myself super amped up about it, and I just generally hate anticipation. When I decided I was leaving, I gave my friends and family 2 weeks to provide their contact information before I fell off  the planet facebook. I didn’t even want to stay on for those 2 weeks, and several times, I’d considered just closing it anyway and saying “fuck the 2 weeks!”

Not many people responded with their information, but they all seemed like they couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Ones that said “please don’t go!” haven’t talked to me in the past 4 months, and those that said “don’t lose touch” have barely replied to my correspondence outside of facebook. (I guess those were threats, after all.) That’s not to say none of them have talked to me, but it’s clear that facebook makes you think you have a lot more friends than you actually have. On the contrary, you probably have a ton of *ahem* friends who are curious about what is going on in your life, but don’t want to get involved in any capacity, other than bystander. That’s more like it.

A lot of people who do see me in real life, have uttered the phrase “oh, you’re not on facebook, nevermind” to the point of exhaustion. Yes, I am the outlier, and thereby, require other forms of communication in order to stay in the proverbial loop, as it were. It doesn’t mean I am incapable of understanding what is happening to people, and can even be told/shown in the exact same manner as if I were a facebook onlooker. Simply show me, or tell me. Just like a computer. Or a kindergarten class. But, you know… me.

I used to share a lot of lengthy and opinionated posts (no, it’s true), which turned into this blog, and I used to share a lot of photos, which turned into google photo sharing, and I used to get bothered by shitty articles and sourceless stories, which turned into being bothered by my general news search. Some might say I’m making lateral moves that don’t mean anything. To them, I say, “Remember Cambridge Analytica?” (and then I disappear into a cloud).

I mean, sure, someone is probably still spying, but it ain’t facebook. I’m not taking quizzes and bumping polls and registering for this-or-that-side in some stupid faceoff about candy or the color of a dress… AKA Profiling Myself For Free. I don’t care to argue about my political beliefs anymore, or argue about whether I should be trying to understand the current racial atmosphere, or get into arguments about *anything* with people who probably aren’t even real, because facebook isn’t real to me. It doesn’t exist, that is, until I try to look up a business, and their only fucking web representation is their facebook page. Why would anyone limit themselves in such a way? My favorite blogger changed her platform to facebook posts, which devastates me, because now I don’t get to read it. In times like that, I want to miss facebook, but then instead I just don’t.

Another thing that I don’t understand anymore, is how the over-all organization of your life on the facebook platform – dates, concerts, baby showers, birthdays, political gatherings, holidays, educational institution details and dates, career specifics, area of location, photo documentation of your family’s upbringing – makes anything easier. I used to think it was convenient, but in reality, it’s just a nice compact version of everything about you, sold to the highest bidder. It’s a social media platform, not a government file (well, it is now), so why are people trying to get so intimate with everyone, that even the most distant connection is one worth letting into your innermost circle?

Matt has asked me several times if I miss facebook, or if I wish I had it back. The answer never changes, and I wouldn’t even be thinking about an answer if he wasn’t bringing it up, because I literally never think about it. I hear people say “Did you see on facebook…” and I immediately interject “nope” but then they start pressing to figure out what the problem is, like my computer malfunctioned somehow, or I just was “too busy for facebook” somehow, or facebook must have malfunctioned somehow because I hadn’t seen it yet.

Nothing is wrong. I haven’t seen it. I’ll never see it. I don’t want to see it now, or tomorrow. If you have a photo to show me, show me the fucking photo. Not the facebook post.

ANNNNND… And and and… I don’t want you to do that move where you “share your phone” in some ridiculous side move where I get to see you scrolling through your feed for 3 minutes in order to find the picture. I didn’t like that when I was on facebook, and I don’t like it when it’s your crap.

Not that your stuff is crap. I’m sure it’s great.

So, not having access to the many “good times” people have been checking into, or the books and drinks they’re enjoying, or the articles they thought were shareworthy, has given me some perspective on life. Perhaps a selfish perspective, but one that I’m willing to live with. I don’t have to worry about who likes my photo, or my rant. I don’t have to see other people praising the disgusting things I hate about society. I don’t have to wonder if I’m living a life that is better or worse than anyone else’s. I don’t feel as anxious, I have been much less skeptical because I can choose what news to read, instead of following a prompt based on my scrolling, and I don’t feel like I’m being constantly judged for what I say.

Which brings me to the most serious part of my fexit. I write things sometimes, and have opinions sometimes, that aren’t regarded as “awesome” by some people, and that’s something I am okay with. But other people aren’t okay with it, and they react. Truth is, there will always be people out there who don’t agree with what you’re saying, but social media has created a breeding ground for hate to flow freely and, seemingly, without consequence. Everyone can see what you’re doing and saying, far beyond when you have said it or done it, and just because 250 people have “liked” your comment, doesn’t mean you’re in good company. I’m sure there are a million pieces of shit strangers out there, who completely agree with what you’ve said, but the one person who takes offense to it, could be someone who you care about and truly affects your life. Facebook has created a platform for people to do and say things they wouldn’t do or say in real life, if faced with those same circumstances. Bravery can soak into your bones and make you feel invincible, but once you bring social intelligence into the physical interaction, I guarantee people will act completely different. People have already started acting different, but for the worse. The 2016 election kicked everything off, and facebook is the reason we have the president we have now, and thereby, many of the societal problems we have now.

Wait, don’t go.

If you disagree with that statement, I am going to bet my first child that you are still on facebook (and like it), but let’s say for shits and giggles that you aren’t.

You’re not on facebook, and you’re so very woke to the drawbacks and breach of privacy, and you read all about the Zuckerberg hearings, and you actually followed the election outside of facebook,… and you also happen to be of the opinion that the election was clean and fair, and not carried out via facebook. For this to be the case, you would have had to completely ignore the very word “facebook” in the news for the past 3 years, as well as any relayed information given by facebook account holders, even if you trust them.

I can tell you, to witness firsthand, the galvanizing of people who think the way the president does, was terrifying. These are people who, prior to the consequence-free zone of facebook, were ashamed to take their beliefs public, because the established collective morality tells us to be socially intelligent, and our brains tell us how to act (or not act) when in a physical confrontation. Well we can remove that stigma, because the president has glorified some of the most divisive and abusive behavior, and has reinforced the idea that you don’t have to ever answer to anybody, and you can take whatever you want. I watched hate groups form on facebook at an alarming rate, between 2014 and 2017, and people really stood behind the messages.

Also on facebook, as with other social platforms, if you express an opinion that goes against someone else’s, they will rake through your profile for something to hurt you with. Some people actually go after others, because their exchanges become so intense. And if they can’t get at your profile, they’ll google your name until they find something else. People have committed suicide because of facebook. People have lost their jobs. People have been stalked and killed. People have been separated from their children.  Imagine that in a real situation: when you’re having a heated argument, the person gets to start rifling through your things, and reading your journal, and going through your phone and computer, and screaming obscenities at you the whole while. They threaten you with physical harm, they threaten you with murder, threaten your family with murder, tear down your looks, your family, your job, your place in life, with no basis for it, other than the fact that you disagreed on ONE THING.

I act completely different now, and I feel like that’s a good thing. I know there were times when I let my reactions to someone else affect how I treated people around me. I think back on that, and I’m like “What?” People are still doing it right now on facebook. I also know there were times when I tried to connect an ordinary app to facebook, and it asked for access to my personal information, both on my computer and my phone, among other unreasonable requests. People are still accepting that request right now on facebook. I remember getting friend requests from people without names or faces that I recognized, and deciding I didn’t really want strangers having a full view into the details of my life. People are still happily and excitedly accepting those requests right now on facebook. A friend is a friend is a friend (even if they’re a bot or a spy).

Unfortunately, facebook has created a monster in that way. Vanity has taken over our interests, more so than anything in the past has, and has dumbed down our vision of what society is. We yearn for more approval, more friends, more likes, more requests to follow, more affirmation. Often, that is the only point behind a post. Nobody is dolling themselves up, taking a selfie, face-tuning themselves, and posting the photo cropped all to shit, unless they were looking for compliments. Next time, just show the fishing pole in the photo. It will bring less confusion. Or, how about #fishingnotfishing.

I’ve discovered the difference between those who call themselves my friend, and those who are just looking to call people ‘Friends’. The reason people send/accept friend requests, is so they can reach more people, because when you reach more people, they can see all of the great things you’re doing that are reflective of your real life I swear, or the totally selfless act you’re performing solely for someone else’s benefit and not for your own karma points no way, or that amazing update about your efficiency at doing laundry AND going to the gym AND tanning…all in the same day! How else would people you know (as well as those you don’t know, as well as the bot accounts, as well as the marketing spies) know about all of those highlights, if not for facebook?!

And the more people who get to see your perfectly groomed profile (instead of the nightmare you are in real life), the better of a person you actually are, and the more advantages you’ll have in life! You need to have thousands of friends, because that’s what regular people (not celebrities who make money by simply existing) normally have in life, right? A close circle of 2,500 friends you want knowing every detail about where you are, at all times, and what you’re doing, as well as who you’re with? Nobody has 2500 people who actually like them.

I was not serious about that last part. I know there are at least 2500 of you who really love me.

I’m not saying facebook is the only place this happens, but facebook is the only place in my world that ALL of this stuff happens. It’s a fucking app. An app that could ruin your world, and the worlds of those around you. An app that HAS ruined MANY lives. An app that shows us how deep into our vanity we can get, while stealing our identities behind our backs. How is that not ironic? We admire the outer shell so much, that we’re too distracted to notice as our insides get sucked out the back door.

That was a poor choice of wording. But you get the idea.

So, after 4-ish months of being free, the only question that still remains, is this: why would anyone ever go back to facebook? With everything that is already wrong with this world, it seems like walking away from an explosion, only to go back and bask in the nuclear winter. It makes no sense. If you are smart enough to walk away, and take control of your life, what makes you revert back? Is it like one of those brokeback mountain relationships, where you just wish you knew how to quit it? It would be interesting to see a brain scan on someone as they reactivate a new facebook account, after having ditched. I bet that would show some significant mid-brain activity, and probably not much else.

The obvious compartmentalizing of people, exposure of their information, hijacking of their time, and exploitation of their weaknesses, all at the willing hand of the victim, has convinced me that I want no part of it. There is no benefit to being on the platform, and even from the outside, it is clear how quickly and dramatically it is deteriorating the world. I officially have no FOMO.

-jg

The Indignant Chef

I spent this past week visiting with family from out-of-state, and I had an interesting interaction with my mom, while preparing food for the horde.

She was making a rather “involved” dish, that wasn’t necessarily complicated, but included many steps, and ingredients you probably didn’t just have laying around (unless you did, then, whatever). In short, it was more time consuming than I would have been happy with, but I was merely a bystander, so I didn’t actually have to do any of the work.

Despite that fact, I still found myself getting frustrated while I watched her neatly dice every veggie, and patiently mince the garlic and cilantro (with a filet knife), and expertly blend the fresh limes and herbs and oils, and the whole thing was orchestrated with such a calm demeanor! It made me want to run screaming, because I would never be able to do that.

Matt was laughing, as I watched, horrified. “Are you really her mother?” He asked my mom, obviously recalling all of the times I have made him question whether or not it was a good idea for me to have sharp knives.

When I cook, everything is a weapon, and I’m always ready to use one on whoever wants to “help” that day. I don’t mean to be a dick about it, but I just can’t use your help, because it’s actually more work. And no, I don’t have time to relax, or stop shaking, or blink, or any of that. I have to do multiple moves at once, and they’re all taking too long. I never want anyone’s help. I tell my kids they can watch, but then when they stand by the counter, I tell them to get away, because the stove has a potential blast radius of 12 feet whenever I’m using it, and there are rogue oil droplets flying everywhere, or bubbling starchy water is popping off, or meat is sizzling, or I’m just tired of listening to questions while I’m clearly working shit out in my head (not always to solution).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a great cook. I can make anyone like anything, I’m certain of it. I used to make some fatty delicious meals that would have you in a coma, but since I’ve started caring about how food affects my family, I have dialed it back. Fried chicken is not off the table completely, but I use canola for the oil, whole wheat flour, skim milk, and boneless skinless chicken breast. I don’t know how to make it any healthier than that, without eliminating it altogether, which I don’t want to do.

I’ve always cooked for people, and sometimes I even enjoy it. The process, however, is not pretty. I fuck up a lot, and I correct it, or at the very least, make it palatable. If all else fails, I make a sauce or a dip that can save the day. I rarely go beyond the point of no return, when it comes to preparing food. That’s not to say it has never happened, but I can’t recall any examples off the top of my head. I think it would take a lot for that to happen, but I get close sometimes. I flirt with disaster, and riff a lot, which is a big no-no when you’re cooking multiple things at once. If I tried to bake something, forget it.

Hey, did you know that potatoes will never ever be done at the same time as your other food? Did you also know that potatoes are my favorite food, and I’ve prepared them over 3,000 times? No matter how many times I give them a go, no matter how early I start them, I will never be confident that we will be able to eat them with the protein and veg at dinner time. The more you motherfucking know.

My family is always telling me “You could go on one of those cooking competition shows, and win!” Which, of course, is not true. I don’t cook well under pressure, and I would be swearing so much, they couldn’t use any of the footage. Plus, as good as I am at cooking, I don’t think I can just replicate a dish on command. I make what I want to make, and sometimes it changes form during the cooking process, but what is the real difference between Fish Fillet With Lime Rice, and Fish Tacos with Lime Rice? I’ll tell you the difference: I fucked up the fillets, and ended up shredding the fish with spices, and it became clear that my Mexican heritage was fed up with not having tacos. I always have fresh corn tortillas in my kitchen, so whatever I fuck up, I just make into a taco. If you said “I want This Meal, cooked This Way” I wouldn’t be able to help you. You’d probably get a taco.

My mom has infinite patience. That’s probably why she makes gourmet stuff, and I mostly live on Success Rice. (Shout-out to Success Rice!) I made Fair Food Night once, which was more of a nightmare than it seems like. It didn’t taste good enough to make it worth it, and I beat myself up (mentally, don’t worry, that’s the good kind) in the middle of the night, thinking about the heart attacks my son will have in 30 years. I don’t cook that shit anymore. That was a bad idea, and I owned up to it immediately. My kids still mention it to this day, but when they talk about it, they say the food was good. They also think Fried Chicken and Waffles is my signature dish, and has been named as the Death Row Meal in our house. I don’t know how we aren’t dead already.

If my kids made their own meal plans, I don’t know how we would survive, honestly. I asked them to each name three things they wanted for dinner this week, and the first thing Sonny said was Chicken and Waffles, followed by Baked Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto. I told him I wanted him to live, so he said “Well, are stuffed peppers going to kill me, or can I eat those?” I think he was mad when I said “I’ll stuff them with turkey sausage,” because he rolled his eyes at me, growled, and said “Nevermind!”

I ended up getting the ingredients for stuffed peppers, mostly because the peppers were on hella sale, and I found some nice meaty ones. I like to eat the males. Did you know, that if the pepper has three knobs on the bottom, it’s a male, and if it has four knobs, it’s a female? Sometimes, there are little baby peppers growing inside of the females. Sonny likes to eat those. Hopefully someone doesn’t tell me they’re poisonous. *Looks up whether they’re poisonous* (they’re not). The turkey sausage only came in the Hot Italian variety, so I said what the hey; I’m part Hot Italian. I can make that work out, I’m sure, right? There’s a chance I might end up eating beer cheese and Triscuit for dinner, but nobody is going to tell me I can’t!

I think, when people are shopping, they end up getting more crap than they need, because sales tell you that you’re going to save money that way. But really, I mean, maybe I don’t want to spend $10 on a “deal” just because it’s a great value, and I just want to spend $3 instead. I just saved $7 by sticking with my original plan, and telling you to go fuck yourself.

That’s not to say I don’t get suckered in once in awhile. It’s usually with meat, because I am always looking for a reason to “use that steak before it goes bad” and if I buy it in bulk, that’s more that I get to eat, in the same amount of time. Some people say that’s gullible, but joke’s on you, because I’d eat a full protein diet if I could, and I’m still iron and protein deficient. (I’m also calcium deficient, and should very much be eating a ton of ice cream.)

I think it’s time I really let Sonny and Dot get hands-on with dinner, and watch how easily they do the work. Maybe they will inherit my assholish nature in the kitchen, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll take after Matt. He usually skips around the kitchen, and does a lot of double-takes, and that shuffle that makes you look like you’re wearing an invisible blindfold. But he does try to help. He is almost a great sous chef, and in my kitchen, that’s the scariest job. “Work closely with me, among my unpredictable anger, near the fire and sharpened blades!”

Maybe I’ll just stick with the old tried and true: “It would take less time for me to do it myself, than to teach you how to do it.” That’s my terrible parenting at work. I don’t normally shit on own parenting, but that’s the one that is always there. I never have the patience to teach them to cook, because they always approach me when I’m keeping up with cook times of like 4 different things.

I could just train myself to be less anxious, like my mom, but I know myself, and that looked really weird to me. More power to her (she is the queen of patience, unless she’s driving) but I don’t think I would get anything done, that way. Except maybe a taco.

-jg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy! You Goonie!

It’s Friday the 13th, y’all, which is my faaaavorite! Sometimes, there is a full moon on this night, and that’s extra special, but tonight, there is a new moon, which means you can’t see shit. Still, Friday the 13th is a fun day, because you get to act like your bad luck is a result of the day, when it’s really just because life wants to shit on you.

As you may know, I am digging for answers all the time, and some of you know from my previous article I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!, that I am currently seeking answers regarding an unfortunately-named product called Man Dip. In the article, I mentioned that I had contacted the founder of Man Dip, Andy, in search of the answers to my questions. I used the email address given in the contact information on the website, so thinking I would get an answer soon, I hesitated to post the article, but ultimately ended up just putting it out there. I’m glad I did, because the process is taking a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

Matt thinks I’m coming off rude, pushing it too far, and that I probably scared Andy with my raging feminism (uh, humanism, thankyouverymuch) but I don’t think I was that mean. Judge for yourself. Below, is a copy of what I’ve sent to him, so you can see that I’m just a woman, looking for some conversation on the topic.

“Andy,
I have a huge issue with your product. Don’t you realize dip is for everyone, regardless of the ingredients, and calling it “Man Dip” is purposefully alienating the majority of the population? Given these divisive and exclusionary times, branding your product under this name is a huge mistake. I urge you to reconsider your mission statement, where food is not given a gender label.
Feel free to contact me.”

I didn’t receive a response, so I wrote to Andy again, just to check in and make sure everything had been received okay.

“Good morning Andy,
I am following up on the email I sent to you 9 days ago, regarding the name of your product Man Dip. I had figured I would get a canned response, but I got nothing. I realize Public Relations 101 would tell you that saying nothing is better than saying something that might make you look like a dick, so I understand your lack of response altogether. I also realize that I am just one woman, in a sea of many women, whose opinions you probably don’t care about. That may be a rash generalization, but I’m mostly just assuming based on the content of your website. I’m sure you didn’t “get where you are today” by caring about a woman’s opinion.
So when I didn’t get a reply from you, I wrote an article about your product, your website, and your company. Also, being that it’s in the public domain, I mentioned you by name when I talked about the part when I emailed you (and you didn’t reply). Now, you may be on a two-week vacation with your family, or just working really really hard, but you should probably have a canned response for inquiries like mine.
The article is getting a lot of attention, so if your website has seen a recent spike in foot traffic… you’re welcome.
Thank you for your time.”

I included a snippet from the article, for his viewing pleasure, thinking he would be so impressed, that he would write back immediately!

That was on June 16th. As of today, I still haven’t received a reply from Andy, or from any other PR people, or any kind of agent or assistant or customer service representative. I haven’t written a third email (yet) since there is purpose behind their radio silence; a conclusion I came to, when I realized that any positive emails or good feedback is probably getting through just fine. I wonder what is happening with my emails, then? I have ideas…

I picture a big board room full of powerful females, sitting around a big table, reading my email. They’re impressed by my outlook on this stupid matter, and they’re all wondering how such an exclusionary idea could have ever been marketed from their company. How did it get by their brilliant minds? Oh, some dude’s Frat Bro nephew gave it the green light, even though he is only working at the company because of nepotism? I see the powerful females educating him on how fucked up the country already is, without adding chip dip to the list of things that promote divisiveness… they’re showing him a slideshow of products that are marketed to women for more money, for less of the exact same product, just in a flowered scent… they’re showing a slide of the dip, with the red Ghostbusters thing around it, because it shouldn’t be a gendered item…  they’re offering the branding and marketing job to someone else now… it’s a woman… she’s taking the Jersey Shore mentality out of the dip industry… she’s sitting on the desk… she’s eating a big scoop of dip out of the container, and laughing at how delicious it is… the taste of victory, that is. (I find this to be a legitimate use of time, and thereby, an acceptable excuse for not returning my email.)

Or, some old rich grumpy asshole is yelling at his grandson, because he got my email from an assistant of some kind, and he’s mad that his grandson used family money to start a business, and “This is the best you could do?!” He’s super embarrassed. The grandfather is yelling, because he has spent his whole life working hard, and his grandson doesn’t know the meaning of struggling, and doesn’t think things through. He throws the printed-off email on the floor, and the grandson looks at it with failure in his eyes. Man Dip? Really? He asks himself, as he realizes how dumb it sounds.

Or what about like, the wife is checking the email one day, and she sees the email, and she’s like, “Yes, girl, I thought Man Dip sounded stupid too. It may come as a surprise to you, but he didn’t listen to me when I told him that it’s borderline sexist to target a food to one specific portion of the population. When I offered him alternate names, he swiped all of his containers of dip off the desk in a fit of rage, and ran out of the room.” But before she can send the email reply, something happens. I don’t know. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Or maybe it’s the woman who came up with the name in the first place, and she doesn’t realize she’s a grade A turd? Maybe she thought she was being “clever” somehow when she thought of it, even though it really just sounds like she’s trying to impress her man and his buddies. It also sounds a lot like someone just wants to be One Of The Guys. That’s cute. Now ship me out some free dip, while you think about how you’re setting back our gender 70 years.

These are just ideas. Change or no, at least acknowledge when someone is contacting you about the product you put out there for consumption. Don’t just ignore them. What kind of business plan is that? How busy is the dip industry, that the founder of the company can’t even get a minute to respond to an email? Is he back there, making all the dip by himself? Milking the cows, tirelessly, for the cheese? Mixing the delicious Chorizo sausage by hand?? Harvesting the Habenero Habanero peppers into the midnight hour??? What is consuming so much of his time, that he can’t even get a break? Does OSHA need to pay a surprise visit, to make sure he’s okay? Let’s get legit concerned for Andy, guys. Dude needs a break. #Andyhumanizing

I didn’t ask him for a miracle. He could just write back and say, “Hey, your email caught me off guard because the whole Gendered Food game is new to me, and I hadn’t thought of literally any of the things you said.” At least open up the conversation, dude. And throw me some free dip. Damn.

Customer service is something that goes hand-in-hand with consumer reporting. If you are fine with listening to good feedback, you need to be able to take the bad feedback as well, and use it as an opportunity for improvement. It’s not just about making money. You have to be a mindful businessperson to be able to survive marketing, because your advertising and branding is the face of your company; it’s what represents your name, your employees, your company culture, your mission statement, business plan, and ultimately, you. When someone approaches you with an issue in your advertising, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention to it. These days, you never know who is going to see the bad review of your product… it could be a much bigger group of people than those who see the website itself.

-jg

 

I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!

Recently, while perusing the online shopping ad for my local grocery store, I came across a product that caught my eye, and refused to let go. That product was called Man Dip.
Now, I admit I was curious about it, but I had some immediate thoughts that ruined any chance that I would ever pay for the item, regardless of how much I wanted to try it. Aside from the obvious reason that I, myself, am not a man, there were some moral stances, as well as some fairly practical stances, that kept me from buying. Let’s just take the name itself, for instance.
A product called “Man Dip” should only ever be two things:
1. A dip that is made from human meat, or
2. Something you stick your dick into.

If neither of the two aforementioned situations are happening, there should be no reason to call a product Man Dip.
Especially when the product is a food. But here it is: www.mandip.com, and yes, I realize I’m giving them free advertising, because their products actually look fucking delicious. There’s chorizo and habanero (which the site spells as ‘habenero’) and all kinds of shit I would totally eat in a dip, and it looks cheesy, too, which is my absolute favorite dip base! When I look at it, all I can think is, TAKE MY CREDIT CARD INFORMATION AND MY HOME ADDRESS AND GET THIS TO MY HOUSE IMMEDIATELY. Which is a huge reason why I have a major problem with this tasty treat being called Man Dip. I mean, I’m no Man, but I have some questions.

Questions such as, can ladies not also enjoy it? The site says it’s “Man tested. Man approved” so I know that every man will like it… that is, unless they’re not into heavy fatty dips for medical health reasons, or if their taste preference differs from the traditional pub food palette.

But CAN a woman enjoy it? Is it possible? The advertising leads me to believe it is NOT “Woman Tested,” or at the very least, just not “Woman Approved.” Which brings me to my next question:

Is there a Woman Dip? I realize the site is called www.mandip.com, so just on that alone, I should be able to deduce the answer. If you go to www.womandip.com, do you know what you’ll find? Not a fuckin thing. GoDaddy says you can create a Woman Dip site, to represent all the ladies out there, who are just looking for a site that has all that dip we love! I’m a lady who is looking for a site with a variety of dip to love. And so, I went on a quest.

My quest only led me down a rabbit hole of subsequent questions, but I also got some answers: Hot Corn Dip, Roasted Corn Dip, Hot Corn Chili Dip, and Spinach Dip are the top search results when one feels inquisitive enough to google search for some Woman Dip. Why is corn the main ingredient in all of these dips? I have literally never ever eaten a dip with corn in it, so I’m not sure why it appears to be the most commonly used ingredient. Is corn a woman thing? I’d considered that I was peeping through a narrow scope, when it comes to the wording, so I opened it up a bit, and searched a few broader (haha, get it?) terms:
– Lady Dip: the top three results included two results for The Dip Lady, who will give you ideas about what to make for your next dinner party, and one result for this amazing post that I thoroughly enjoyed.
– Girl Dip: the top three results included Pretty Girls Dipping: the video, followed by another video of a girl sticking dip pouches into her vagina, and a third video of a Hot Girl taking a Fat Dip… all tobacco products, no food.
– Chick Dip: obviously all recipes for buffalo chicken dip.

So, no Woman Dip exists. But why not? Is it because no lady has ever been smart enough to think of ourselves exclusively, where dip is concerned? It can’t be that hard to figure out, but I mean, we don’t exactly have any Real Men boldly leading the way in the female dip market.

Don’t they know we also want to test and approve things that are only meant for us?

Don’t they know we also want to proclaim that a large portion of the population, including some Non-womanly types of women, need to go get their own dip, for women who aren’t Real? I’m taking cues from the Man Dip site, which I should not be doing.

So if Woman Dip is to be what it claims, would we also have to exclude certain gender groups? Like, all you UnReal Men (and UnReal Women!)… as much as we recognize you’re under-represented in the dip game, we need to leave you out of this one too. It’s harsh, because we know you can’t handle the Man Dip (just like we can’t) and you want some Woman Dip, but you can’t have it. It’s for Real Women. That’s just how the dip game is going to work, now. Thanks, Man Dip!

“SOUR CREAM IS FOR SISSIES
EAT LIKE A MAN!”

Also, since Real Men love sausage and spices, and despise cream dips (I don’t know what they were trying to say there), what would be the ingredients of Woman Dip? Something we could handle, is a must. Nothing fatty, nothing spicy, nothing hearty, and nothing a Real Man would ever be caught dead eating. Flowers? Dish soap? Lace? Summer’s Eve? Whatever the ingredients, the quality would be as satisfactory as Man Dip, but it would cost 78% less, so I think we have a market here… *rubs womanly hands together excitedly*

Their website has guidelines and tips to try, in case you are a man who communicates mostly in a series of grunts.

“And now, with six varieties, there’s a dip for every meal of the day. That’s right – that’s MAN math.”

It is definitely Man Math at work right there, because I recognize it from my old job. Working in a “Man’s World,” AKA a manufacturing plant, opened my eyes to what opportunities are available for women, and apparently the kitchen is no different. Men get 6 meals per day, because that’s the Man thing to do. Women should really only have 2 meals per day, because if we get fat, men may not desire us. That’s why we save the chorizo and cream cheese and spices for the Men. The Real Men.

And while we’re on the subject of Man Math, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out our country’s raging obesity and heart disease problem. 6 meals of big fat dip per day has nothing to do with that. That’s right – that’s MAN science.

The Man Dip website, interestingly enough, also has a merch tab, where you can peruse the (now closed) store of Man Dip memorabilia. Included in their items: a LADIES’ t-shirt with the Man Dip logo on it. Wait a minute- the ladies can’t have the dip, but we can advertise it on our tits? Oh, I get it. Because Real Men also like tits. Makes sense.

Of course, www.mandip.com isn’t the first place to make this delicious concoction. A simple google search will bring up a number of recipes for homemade man dip, so this is hardly their brainchild. But they chose to brand the product – and essentially their entire company – with this gender-specifying label. They could have called it anything else, but they called it that. No biggie, right? Well, they didn’t stop there. They also put recipes on the site, for other Man foods you can make (if you’re a Real Man, or if you’re the titty-sporting wife of a Real Man), and geared all of their statements toward the importance and the glory of being a Real Man. I find this to be excessively divisive, in a society where gender is already a hot-button issue, not just where people are concerned, but where consumer products and reporting are concerned.

Being the consumer reporter that I am, I decided it was only fair to start by reaching out to Andy, the owner/proprietor of Man Dip.

My email to Andy was not rude (shocking, I know), because it wasn’t my aim to call him out on his bullshit, but rather, to guide him toward an understanding of the zeitgeist in which we currently exist. I am not making any rules, nor am I speaking for anyone else, but my guidance comes from my own understanding of the vastly different and constantly varying viewpoints of those around me. I am smart enough to realize we live in a consumerist/capitalist society. We use the preferences and influence of our audience, to make money for ourselves. If Andy had looked a little more closely at the sign of the times, he would see that assigning gender to this product is a huge mistake, and I urged him to reconsider his mission statement.

Whether or not he bites, is his choice. I am hoping for a response that doesn’t include a condescending statement. Appeasing the curiosity of a lowly woman might be the order of the day, but I want more than answered questions. I want change. I want everyone to be welcome to eat that dip, whether they’re a Real Man or a Fake Man, or even a Woman. I am a woman who eats like a Real Man, so I don’t like being told ANY dip isn’t for me. I want that dip.

Unless someone has stuck their dick in it.

-jg