Watch Your Step


Follow me. Watch your step.


The photo above indicates that:

a) Debris from the Japanese tsunami has not only reached the shores of the U.S., but has migrated hundreds of miles inland and is now a danger to homes everywhere.

b) The room shown has been ransacked by a marauding band of misfits, hell bent on stealing Boy Scout paraphernalia, NC State University t-shirts and marching band sheet music.

c) The dresser shown in the photo has rare magical powers, enabling it to vomit the contents of its drawers onto the floor at will.

d) My baby boy, having survived 2 grueling semesters of college, 9 months of dining hall meals, a roommate who plays loud video games until 2 a.m. each night, and 3 significant bicycle accidents, is home for the summer.

The United States of Obesity

We’re fat, really fat. We are rapidly becoming the United States of Obesity. But of course, you already know that. Having spent my pre-teen years shopping for clothes in the Chubette department at Korvette’s, a thoroughly demoralizing experience, I understand a little something about the subject.

Still, however alarming our collective fatness may be, I’m equally alarmed at the lengths we’re willing to go to become un-fat. There’s the multi-billion dollar diet industry, with options ranging from the sensible to the insane; mystery supplements with potentially life threatening side effects; radical risky surgery; and that old stand-by, wiring the jaw shut.

The pharmaceutical industry continues its quest for a magic drug to treat fatness. (Note: they’re not searching for a cure because that would have a limited pay-off. Ideally, they’d like to find yet another pill that millions of people will need to take every day for life – it’s much more lucrative. Yeah, I’m cynical – so what?)

Nature offers a virtually limitless source of potential treatments for al l sorts of ailments. For instance, the active ingredient in aspirin is derived from the bark of a willow tree and fish oil has been proven to have tremendous health benefits. Some “natural” substances, however, are best left at their source and should probably not be manipulated into medications. Remember the infamous Premarin, a hormone replacement therapy given to millions of menopausal women, which was later proven to increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes? It’s derived from pregnant mares’ urine. Natural? Yes. Good idea? No.

This brings me to the latest scientific findings with respect to potential obesity medications. Researchers have discovered a naturally derived substance that drastically reduces cravings for food. The source of the substance? The saliva of the Gila Monster. Do I hear doubters out there? It’s true: I’m confident the pharmaceutical industry is already hard at work coming up with a name (Gimova, Salgimo?) and a marketing campaign.

I know obesity comes with a host of serious health risks, but I’m certain that Gila Monster Spit pills are not the answer. Let’s just leave the spit in the Gila Monster where it belongs, just as we ought to leave the pee of pregnant horses where it belongs. Agreed?

Living Proof that Money Does Not Buy Happiness

I’m embarrassed, no – make that ashamed, to admit that I’ve gotten hooked on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. First, let me say I grew up in New Jersey and knew of no housewives that resembled this collection of over-the-top women in any way, shape or form. The housewives I knew dressed in wrap-around denim skirts, schlepped to carpool and the A&P in aging station wagons, considered themselves presentable if they swiped on a little lipstick, and were generally nice to everyone, including the people they didn’t particularly like.

Apparently, things have changed since I left the Garden State several decades ago. If this show is any indication of reality, today’s Housewives of New Jersey are all about excess. They live in excessively large and ostentatious McMansions; drive enormous SUVs; dress in excessively skimpy cocktail party attire at all times, whether they’re headed to a family cookout or to the dentist for a root canal; and spackle on so much make-up they could easily pass for hookers or Las Vegas showgirls.

Not surprisingly, their behavior is excessive. They fight vehemently with one another over the smallest of perceived slights and spew venomous insults and accusations. They spend an inordinate amount of time in the company of friends and family whom they do not appear to like in the least, sharing meals, large amounts of wine, and nasty nasty conflicts.  They chastise each other for getting involved in things that are none of their business, notwithstanding the fact that they choose to display their business on TV for all the world to see. Occasionally, the arguments get a little physical, but as I watch, I’m more concerned that someone is going to scream herself into a heart attack or stroke.

I think it’s fair to say that as a group, these women (and their spouses and sometimes their kids) are the most dysfunctional, selfish, self-involved, insecure, hyper-critical and unhappy people in the lovely Garden State.

So, if ever you feel a little sorry for yourself because your finances are not what you wish they were, if ever you think “why didn’t my husband buy me an $80,000 Jaguar for our anniversary, like Caroline’s husband did?,” take a deep breath and be grateful for what you DON’T have!

(Hey, anyone know of a good Real Housewives detox program?)

Supremely Unpopular

In case you had a scintilla of lingering doubt about how shallow we have become, let me set the record straight once and for all. A new Pew research poll finds that the U.S. Supreme Court has hit an all-time low in popularity, with only 52 percent viewing the Court favorably, down considerably from its popularity peak of 80 percent back in 1994.

I’m sorry, we’re rating the popularity of the Supreme Court now?  Are we nuts?

There’s a good reason why Supreme Court justices are appointed, not elected, and why they’re appointed for life terms. They’re supposed to make decisions independent of politics, independent of what would make the majority of Americans happy. When they consider a case, they’re supposed to stay above the fray in which the rest of us are wallowing.

They are a serious, intellectual (and often geriatric) bunch. Their decisions have monumental consequences. When they decide a case, someone always loses and the stakes are always high. Frankly, I don’t want them to be popular.

That’s not to say that when they hang up their black robes (and for the women, those fashion backward little lace collars), they’re not regular people, capable of being charming and personable. In fact, I imagine some of them even have a wicked sense of humor and could liven up an otherwise ho-hum cocktail party. Still, I’m confident that none of them were among the popular crowd in high school and that’s a GOOD thing.

Think back to high school. (I apologize if this causes a flood of bad memories, unpleasant flashbacks or seizures.) Remember the popular kids? No offense if you were among their ranks, but as I recall, the popular kids would never be confused with the deep thinkers. Fair or not, popularity can get you far in life, but it cannot get you a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court and for that, I’m very grateful.

To the esteemed justices of the United States Supreme Court, I thank you for your unpopularity. You must be doing something right.