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Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's All a Big Set-Up

Sometimes I get set up for failure, and I don't like it.

It's very difficult to not feel set up when you're struggling to manipulate a brand-new bottle of Kraft ranch dressing that is labeled "Easy Open." As it searches for reasons behind this seemingly incongruous difficulty, your mind starts to wander to unhelpful places.

Am I retarded?



Did I consume paint chips as a child or paint buckets?

Really. I have a Bachelor's and a Master's degree. I should be able to open this fucking bottle top. Is it one of the ones where you twist the top and the label just tears off, or do you peel the label off first? I try, but I can't get my fucking fingernail under there. I look at Mrs. Apron in exasperation.

"You're funny," she says. But, is that what she means?

I blink a couple times and then get back to the task at hand. Finally, the cap is off. Then there's the paper covering the top of the bottle.

"Lift 'n Peel" it says to me, with a coquette's wink, if it could.

I pinched and pulled. The pull part came off in my hand, leaving the paper.

"Oh my fucking God! You're fucking kidding me!"

Out comes the sharp knife, digging through the paper and tracing the bottle's circumference, all the while thinking, "paint buckets. Definitely buckets."

There's no surer way to make some poor schmuck feel even poorer and schmuckier than to assure him that some impending task is going to be "easy." Invariably, it won't be. See, because we're humans and there's a lot of variation between us in regards to intellect, skill-level, physical brawn, dexterity, chromosome number and quality, upbringing, pleat vs. flat-front preference, gender identity and so on, it's very difficult and often ill-advised to predict what is going to be "easy" for one carbon-based life form or another.

Obviously, opening bottles is easy for people at Kraft. So is selling people cigarettes, but we won't go there on this blog. Tonight, at least.

Tonight's Kraftgate reminded me of a time, long, long ago when I used to sit at the dining room table, doing math problems with my long-suffering father.

"Okay, Mummy-- this one should be very easy one, okay?"

Okay? No, father. It is most definitely not okay.

I would stare at the paper while my head throbbed, staring at the black lines, the symbols and the numbers. I would wait for them to miraculously come to life, like Jesus in his little cave, and do a little dance on the paper-- magically rearranging themselves to formulate the correct answer.

I really thought it would happen, and that everything would be "okay." Things wouldn't be okay until 11th grade, the final year I was required to take math.

I didn't have the wisdom or the vocabulary (okay, I probably had the vocabulary) to tell my father how inferior I felt when he would assure me that "this next one was so easy" and that the unfinished part of that sentence that played loudly in my head was "... and if you can't answer it, I am going to disown you and have you deported to Bolivia where you will clean oysters in bowls filled with gasoline for sixteen cents a day and serve them to members of the drug cartel while wearing a bikini."

Those were hard times at the dining room table, times I hope to not replicate with my own son.

So, here's a message to the food conglorporations of the world:

Please don't tell me that your bullshit top is "Easy Open." If you must write something on it, just write something descriptive, accurate and not something subjective. Write "Top." Or "Blue." Or "Plastic."

Here's a message to the fathers of the world:

Get your kid a fucking tutor, because number 7-- it ain't so easy.

Trust me.

1 comment:

  1. With regards to the math. My Dad erased(!!!) the example in my math book when he helped me that one (and only) time. I thought my Grade 4 body was going to have a stroke. He muttered that the example(!) was wrong. I remembered thinking Please dont let the teacher see my text book.. never mind my screwed up finished (ish) homework. I have kids now and we all stink at math. ha ha ..


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