Early this morning, after switching on the water heater and picking out her favorite bowl-sized mug, Alika was astonished to find that the label on her tea bag was missing an inspirational quote.
“It was just like any other morning before my 6:30am Vinyasa Flow. I had already done my hair into a fishtail braid, and I was about halfway through my Greek yogurt when I discovered that the mango black tea bag label was completely blank. I was at a loss.”
Sources say she was unable to go through with the steeping, and, as she spent the next few minutes tearing open every tea bag in the box in a frenzied fury of disbelief, the heated water cooled before even being poured. The extent of her severe bewilderment caused her to be only three minutes early to yoga, rather than the usual fifteen, which meant she had no choice but to set up her mat in a dark corner of the room where she couldn’t satisfyingly showcase her magnificent downward-facing dog.
This incident can be traced back to Alika’s daring venture to save a buck or two, when she recently made the switch to Safeway store-brand tea.
“I knew I was sacrificing some degree of quality when I gave up my usual Yogi brand tea bags, but I could never have imagined that would extend to the quotes. The quotes are an integral part of the modern tea-drinking experience.”
Alika is doing her best to move past the devastation of this morning, holding on to the lingering memory of a recent quote printed one of her last Yogi tea bags: “Nothing is too great to overcome.”
(Okay, I know, but the Onion doesn’t OWN news parody…)
So, we all know that sociology is the science of assigning fancy names to things that everyone has already noticed but thought unworthy of naming.
For example, take Post-Purchase Rationalization. This phenomenon is defined by Wikipedia as a “cognitive bias whereby someone who purchases an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase.” Also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome (really?), this epidemic has apparently afflicted secretly remorseful shoppers everywhere.
I mean, duh. Anyone leaving Whole Foods with his or her reusable bag slightly heavier experiences some degree of Post-Purchase Rationalization. As in: I don’t feel guilty. I’m GLAD I spent $14.99 on raw sprouted macadamia nut butter. It is so natural, no animals came anywhere near it, and I am desperately lacking in omegas. I can’t wait to carve into it with the bejeweled knife I bought at Anthropologie and spread it on some gluten-free soy crisps. Also I’m saving the earth with this reusable bag.
But enough about PPR. I would like to turn the focus to a different sociological phenomenon, which is so eloquently dubbed Pluralistic Ignorance. It is best illustrated by an example:
At the end of class, a professor asks if anyone is confused about her dense, rambling and disorganized lecture on the irregular conjugations of ser in the past perfect subjunctive, and she gets crickets in response. Despite the silence, which seems to indicate collective and complete understanding, however, everyone is confused. But since everyone thinks everyone else is on top of their shit, no one speaks up.
Get it? It’s basically when everyone does something because everyone thinks everyone else wants to be doing it, but really no onewants to be doing it.
Keep this in mind while I start talking about something else now.
I couldn’t even begin to give you an accurate estimate of the number of times I have found myself on some dark, sweaty dance floor, lost in a sea of gyrating body parts.
Because everybody loves to grind.
Especially this guy Tim (false name, never know), a golfer from Yale, who began to grind with me one fateful night at Princeton. He was kinda cute and freckly, so when he pressed his front against my back and started to bend his knees and sway to the beat, I figured what the hell. So I got low… like in that rap song! Ya know??
Eighteen seconds later, my thighs were screaming. That was to be expected – the price of the grind, if you will. But then something unexpected happened. With his hands on my hips – I suppose that’s our modern take on “leading” – and with his left foot as our anchor, he started to maneuver our bodies into a rather dizzying, continuous pivot.
We grinded (ground?) in circles.
He might have intended to keep circling, round and round, chasing ever-elusive tails, for hours… eternities, for all I know… had I not started making desperate, wild hand gestures and exaggerated grimaces at some friends nearby. The universal signal for “grab my arm and pull me away from this hellish wall-sit-meets-merry-go-round.”
Sometimes, when I’m sitting in a five star restaurant cutting my filet mignon with a steak knife, fork perched delicately in my left hand, cloth napkin folded neatly across my lap (yes, I am in this situation more often than you might think), I suddenly feel outrageously silly.
That is not how animals eat. Animals (and we are, undeniably, animals – ask Darwin, or my ninth grade biology textbook) stalk their prey, pounce on it, and tear at it savagely with sharpened claws, biting voraciously at the raw flesh until their jowls drip with blood and guts. At least, the carnivores do, according to Planet Earth.
Tigers don’ t wipe their paws with sanitary napkins after finishing off gazelle liver. Lions don’t wait till they have finished chewing and swallowing to ask their cohorts to pass the salt. They don’t even know what salt is.
Emily Post would be so horrified in the presence of their complete ignorance of dining etiquette that she would probably swoon on the spot… and proceed to be killed and eaten.
Of course, broaching this subject opens up a whole other can of worms… Why do we go to restaurants at all? Why don’t we forage for our own sustenance? Why do we go to school? Why do we wear clothes?
No, I’m not a nudist. But if you are, more power to you.
Anyways, I’m going to go catch a fish with my bare hands in the Puget Sound and eat it raw in front of everyone at Pike Place Market. I suggest you do the same.
I tutor this kid whose entire house transformed entirely over the week after Thanksgiving. And by transformed, I don’t mean from a normal, home-themed house to a Christmas-themed house, I mean from a Pilgrim wonderland to a Christmas wonderland. Wonderland to wonderland.
It was like walking into Ikea, if Ikea were owned by Santa.
I think the mother (who shall remain nameless) even changed the clocks on the walls… because instead of normal hands, there were candy canes.
It just led me to wonder… where does she store all this stuff? Is there an entire room full of boxes organized by month of the year? How long does it take her to swap out the pumpkins and pilgrims and gourds and tapestries of cornucopias for the nutcrackers and wreaths and pudgy dolls and bowls of red and green M&Ms?
Does the house ever just look like a house?
It must get tiring, swapping box after box of the same decorations, year by year, taking down Cupids and putting up Shamrocks, taking down cobwebs and putting up… probably something appropriate for Veteran’s Day. A thankless job.
Is there a box in storage, placed between Easter and Cinco de Mayo, marked “In-Between Holidays” that just has regular clocks, something beige from Pottery Barn, and maybe a flag bearing the crest of her and her husband’s alma mater?
All I know is, the extent of our family’s decorations is a menorah someone made in 2nd grade, dangly lights – half of which are broken – and some Sees peanut brittle in the fridge. Oh, and someone got a tree, I think.
I recently moved back in with my parents. Relatively frequent blogging doesn’t pay, who knew! Oh, and I think I heard something about the economy being… bad? Don’t quote me on that.
I tried to mentally prepare myself for the transition. And by this I mean I tried to premeditatively reconcile myself with the fact that, from the moment I dumped my clothes and my dignity onto the floor of my bedroom, I was effectively relinquishing my peaceful napping privileges.
Maybe it’s their generation, it’s impossible to be sure, but whatever it is, my parents seem to find the concept of napping to be utterly foreign. To them, a nap is symptomatic of a number of things, which, in turn, inspire a multitude of pestering questions. For example:
Why are you napping?
Are you sick?
Why are you so tired? Why do you need so much sleep?
Are you okay? Is something wrong?
Did you get enough sleep last night?
Shouldn’t you be looking for a job?
Don’t you have better things to do?
Okay, maybe those last two aren’t completely unwarranted. After all, the answers are, respectively: probably, and yes I certainly do.
You should probably know that as I write this, I bear a striking resemblance to a cancer patient. (Of course, I mean this in the most politically correct sense possible; please don’t take offense at my trivial, self-deprecating, woefully truthful observations.) I have a scarf wrapped around my head, concealing all hair and both eyebrows. And by “eyebrows”, I really mean the general vicinity above the eyes where eyebrow hairs are meant to grow, as I’ve nearly picked them all out. Nervous habit… I won’t go into it, but suffice it to say that that is the reason the scarf is on in the first place. To, theoretically, prevent more eyebrow picking. Adding to my (both perceived and literal) hairlessness, I am sitting outside covered in a blanket and smoking a broken cigarette… which, to compensate, I must hold firmly between my forefinger and thumb. Like a doobie.
Am I right or am I right?!
But this is all beside the point, I just wanted to paint you a picture. Provide some context. Let you IN. And at the same time, hopefully, make you feel a little better about whatever it is you are doing at this precise moment. Because I’m sure it’s much less pathetic. Anyway, we’re moving on.
There was a lunatic at Trader Joe’s today.
Okay, maybe “lunatic” is a little alarming. He was simply… uninhibited. Jolly. Loud. Drunk? Determined. On a mission. Probably hungry. Among other things, certainly. Continue reading Intruder Joe’s→