You know who annoys me more than newly converted Jesus freaks? Newly converted dieters. Today I was just trying to go to CVS to get some Tylenol when I was pounced on by “nutritional consultants” handing out samples of some new pom-soy-who knows what “nutrition” bar.

I declined and said, “I’d rather just eat the actual unprocessed fruit.”

I know this usually provokes a fracas, and I must admit I was a little feverish and I was looking to rumble.

Much to my contrarian chagrin, the perkier of the two woman didn’t take the bait! She actually agreed with me. I wondered if her corporate overlords know she’s saying such things?

At first.

Then she started yakking about the importance of eating a fruit or vegetable from as many colors of the rainbow as possible every day and how hard that can be and how her product can help fill those gaps when you just can’t find so much variety.

I’m not one to lose so easily, so I tried derailing her by asking whether bananas counted as white or yellow. I actually wonder about this, so it wasn’t completely combative of me. Then I brought up peaches. Pink? Yellow? What about the one I had with breakfast? It was pretty whitish inside, more of a cream than a true canary.

I started to feel guilty for being obnoxious and sounding self-righteous so I told them I’d spent the weekend subsisting on Guinness, tater tots, and chocolate. They giggled at my joke; they thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.

I also wasn’t kidding about eating actual fruit instead of pre-packaged snacks and this was making the Nutrition Specialists pouty and combative because I still wouldn’t try the snack sample.

The more she tried to make me eat the Soylent Pom, the more resistant I got.

Then the whole thing got derailed because someone else pointed out that you should never let your kids eat peaches because they’re a stone fruit and everyone knows that stone fruits cause ADHD. Or maybe Autism. Or maybe they just make them worse. Or maybe eating them makes the symptoms better.

Best not to take the chance. Make sure your children are terrified of peaches and apricots and cherries. One bite and their brains will implode. Or maybe explode. Just don’t take the chance.

Everyone seems to know this, with great certainty, even if they aren’t certain what they know. Everyone agreed it was something that started with “a” and that it was very, very bad. Apparently, giving little Jayden or Avery or Eithne stone fruits is now more dangerous than feeding them sugary breakfast cereals or letting them take a bath without water wings before they’re 18.

It always disturbs me when people are so adamant about eliminating a specific food or consuming a food based on vague health claims, even more so when they aren’t even sure why they’re doing it in the first place. Perhaps there’s a connection, I’m not an expert.

I wanted to shout a few disease names that started with “a” but I saw an opening and I took it, so I sprinted to my car and went home. They aren’t my kids and it isn’t my business, but the medical anthropologist in me still likes to stay aware of these wacky trends and the social and cultural implications of them.

Once I got home, I sat down with my macbook and tried to suss out the genesis of the stone fruit/ADHD or autism connection but quickly got distracted by Monsters Cereal, an entire blog devoted to Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo-Berry. Then I got sucked into the YouTube.

Then I got distracted by Breakfast of the Gods.

God bless the Internet. I feel better already.

The November 12th issue of the New Yorker features a particularly good “annals of retail” column by Caitlin Flanagan. Titled “Bringing Up Baby – Anxious parents spend thousands,” the article chronicles the thing I find even more amusing than the stupid shit people buy their pets, namely – the stupid shit people buy for their babies.

Well, not so much for the babies as for mommy and daddy…much of this stuff is about ego – is the 2800 dollar stroller really better than the 98 dollar one?. Plenty of these products are also gobbled up in the name of “safety” because, of course, before the advent of baby safety products babies didn’t survive to their first birthday.*

Make no mistake, babies are indeed fragile little creatures and tragic things do happen to them, but new parents, I’m talking to you. You need to get a fucking grip and you need to do it right now.

My favorite hot new product is the backseat baby safety monitor. Here’s a link to one if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

So yes, instead of looking in the rearview mirror to make sure that The Precious is still strapped in his carseat, you can stare at a monitor on the dashboard. Frankly, I find the ear-splitting squawking to be a sign that the little beast is still there, but what do I know?

Here’s the deal, kids: if you’re going to get into a vehicle (most likely an SUV) with someone who’s enamored with one of these backseat gizmos, you damned well better bring extra diapers. Not for the kid – for yourself. This should be obvious to people who buy these things, but apparently is not, so I’ll spell it out here: If you, the driver, are staring at a video monitor on your dashboard you aren’t watching the road, you moron.

The de rigeur item in my neighborhood these days is a pram from the Silver Cross line. (Also mentioned in the article, by the way). Silver cross actually has two lines, the “lifestyle line” and the “heritage line.” These things cost thousands of dollars and the new mommies nearly go nuts at the coffeeshop trying to keep an eye on their spawn and their pricey stroller at the same time. These strollers cost more than my car is worth. It’s completely insane. Here’s the thing: the babies really, really don’t seem to care.

Why do I care? Because I have to listen to these same people go on and on to me about how worried they are about paying tuition when their little pooter is ready for school. And I have to paste a sympathetic expression on my face while my brain is practially shouting, “Why not check your ego, put the 3 grand into google stock or mutual funds or even, you know, a savings account. Something so you can, you know, start saving some money for the spawn’s schooling, if you’re that worried?”

But what do I know?

Before I go, I have a little request for new parents – aside from the request to stop trying to kill me when we’re in the car with your spawn. It’ simple, really. For the sake of your children, please stop putting those bubblewrap covers on every fixture in your house. Someday, your spawn is going to go to college, move out of the house, go to prison, or otherwise engage in an activity that will require bathing outside your safety-sealed environment. Our medical system is stretched enough without the prospect of every 18 year old in America needing medical attention their first week out of the nest because they are incapable of functioning in a non-padded environment.

Please, folks. Do it for the children.

*Yes, you know it’s not true. I know it’s not true. Yuppies with too much cash seem to be able to ignore reality and believe anything you tell them. Hell, we survived lawn darts. Today’s children apparently burst into flames when exposed to tap water. Who knew?

Driving home from work, rush hour, tons of traffic, blah blah blah.

Traffic stops. The guy behind me in the Lexus lays on his horn. He’s fully occupied in his phone conversation and can’t be bothered to take the big picture into account. He keeps honking and honking and honking. My headache goes from bad to nearly unbearable.

Honking will not make the cars move, this is very obvious. After all, there’s a missile launcher in the road. A missile launcher, surrounded by Army Dudes in full Army Dude Attire. Honking will not intimidate the missile launcher. Honking will not make the Army Dudes say, “Code Red? Bah! Let’s knock off early and have a beer, we’re inconveniencing this guy.”

The odd part was all the camoflage they were wearing, particularly the helmets. The helmets had that netting stuff on them and everything, and it’s not the first time we’ve seen this around the Pentagon lately.

“If the enemy attacks we’ll, uh, take cover in this carefully manicured park. Quick men, cover yourself in hydrangea branches.”

So despite the fact that traffic is slowed down so the Pentagon can position a missile launcher, the guy keeps honking. What the fuck? It’s a missile launcher. A missile launcher. It launches missiles.

Stop honking, hang up your cellphone and pay attention to the road.

I want these people in their Ford Excursions with the tastefully applied Greenpeace sticker on the rear bumper to subsidize what they are doing to our planet in a tangible way. I’m very tired of the sense of entitlement that accompanies SUV-drivers.

I saw whiney yuppies on the news the other night complaining that they should have to pay less at the pumps because they feel like they are being penalized for needing a larger vehicle. A few of them also complained about how hard it is to park in the close-in spaces at the grocery store because the spaces are designed for, you know, normal sized cars. All I can really say to that is: Penalize this, baby.

It’s probably a good thing I don’t run the world because I could see things getting a little arbitrary over time, but I think for starters I have some okay ideas.

Whoever put the word lifestyle into general usage should be shot, or at minimum punished severely.

We willfully packed ourselves in amongst the other sardines at the uber-fashionable bar while we waited for a table at the adjoining uber-fashionable restaurant. We didn’t know all this time we were being hip, we just like being able to walk home from places where we drink a lot, but it turns out we have been engaging in fashionable behavior for at least a year. Forgive us, we knew not what we were doing. I also had a moment of pause when we did get our table and I finally realized who our usual waiter reminds me of. Tyler Durden. Fight Club fans understand it is not a good thing for your waiter to remind you of Tyler Durden.

Anyway, our favorite bit of shouted conversation while we were still at the bar consisted of an overstuffed yuppie explaining something to his companions. He kept saying “we’re trying to duplicate our lifestyle here.” What exactly did that mean? And did he mean right there at the bar? He said it numerous times, each time more fervently than the last. I was slightly disappointed when the hostess came from next door to get us, but only slightly. The whole situation was getting ominous to me. Or maybe I was simply getting tipsy.

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While we iron this out, we must keep in mind that things could be much much worse for us. We could be like the poor souls in New York City. You may be asking, what poor souls?

The tragedy came to my attention via and article in the Washington Post online, which also appears on the front page of the day’s edition. “New York Gets Over a Gilt Complex” (April 24, 2001).

Some people in New York are suffering and you can help. We need to put on a benefit concert and raise a lot of money because things sound pretty desperate. We have an obligation to help them.

See for yourself. Take the case of poor Paul Harris:

His personal fortune is down to $1.5 million and he’s leaving for an ashram in India. “I really need to reconnect,” he said. “This dream’s over.”

How shocking is that? Is Yanni available? How about Kenny G and perhaps the Mannheim Steamroller? We’ve got to help these people, damnit.

It gets worse:

“It’s the summer season coming up, so my patients must have tune-ups,” said plastic surgeon Pamela Lipkin, who has a state-of-the-art private operating room on Fifth Avenue. “But instead of doing liposuction on seven areas, they’re doing three or four. These decisions are so painful.”

Oh, the horror. The horror. Okay, so to be honest the article is mostly about the question of whether the stock market fluctuations will have wider-reaching implications. Those quotes were just too good to pass up. I do want to add that I feel pretty bad for the people who have had to sell off most of their jets. I don’t know what Husband and I would do if we had to restrict ourselves to just one Lear Jet.