February 03, 2003

And Sometimes I Wonder About Thee...

I like to think of myself as a rational and logical kind of person whose behavior when viewed by another would seem reasonable and appropriate. I see myself as immune to those quirks, eccentricities and weird mannerisms so obvious in everyone else. I am suffering this delusion in ignorant bliss until, this morning, I catch myself in the middle of a little quirky bit of odd activity and wonder "what subconscious Pavlovian conditioning, silly superstition or cerebral synaptic chemical spill did that come from!?"

I would be comforted in this confession to know that I am not alone in this admission of bizarre but harmless oddity. Come on. Offer just one little foible or 'weird' habit from your personal closet that will give us all solidarity in our unique strangeness. I'll go first.

Breakfast cereal(s) in the bowl this morning: Bran Flakes. Harvest Moon granola. Golden Grahams. We never, ever eat just one kind of cereal, seldom less than three, mixed together. House rule. Overnight guests find this very remarkable, which is odd, since it is merely 'normal'. I think this peculiarity started when the kids were small. Yes, we condescended, they could have a little bit of Lucky Stars, Trix or Syrup Coated Sugar Bombs (varieties they called BAD-FOR-ME cereals... don't know where they got that value-laden name) but only as a "sprinkle" on top of a 'good' cereal. This unusual childhood prohibition had such a ** deep psychological impact on them that even now, as a form of retribution for the privations of their youth, they still expect in their Christmas stocking a 10-pack of the small box set of BAD-FOR-ME as a special treat. So, multiple cereals (with or without the Sugar Bombs) is hard and fast rule in our house, a strange habit pattern, perhaps, but with some logical basis.

Some cereal-behaviors are not as logical. I found myself grumbling this morning, as I frequently do, that somebody folded over the top of the cereal bag backwards in the box. Can you believe that! Every reasonable person knows that the inside wrapper should be folded AWAY from the front-panel tab on the boxtop. Let's just pay a little more attention to critical detail here, people, and our lives will have one less artifact of unpredictability, a smattering more of control. Okay. Maybe this one is a bit more of a personal idiosyncrasy without a great deal of practical relevance, a fixed behavior with no known 'survival value'. I'll grant that. But when it comes to cereal boxes, I'll do it MY way and remain perplexed as to why my way is not a universal norm. It is so obviously the right way to do things!

Meanwhile, ignoring the plank in my own eye... examine this factoid: In our house, it is deemed "disgusting" that a certain husband should stir his coffee and then (look away, squeamish ones) put his spoon down on the very counter top! (The unthinkable horror! Doesn't this image just give you the dry heaves?) Can't I see that this crass negligence puts a deposit of coffee on the counter top, creating more work for the oppressed working housewife! You cad! You thoughtless oaf! And she quickly grabs a clean dish from the cabinet to slip under the horrid spoon before it touches down on the Formica.

Here it would be very unwise of the perpetrator, given the deep-seated hyper-rational nature of this bit of feminine logic to point out that 1) small spots of coffee come also from the pot itself. Why is this not also disgusting? and 2) dealing with an additional dish to clean for this odd purpose ... isn't that adding way more 'work' than wiping a tiny spot of the counter top with a dish rag?) When in Rome.

So. Anything similar going on at your house? Start by telling tales on 'the other guy'. They're always way kookier than we are. Right? Once you get started, you'll see how easy it is. Of course, you may end up with your plate in the yard tonight. If so, just don't think about putting your dirty fork down in the grass. Carry along a clean saucer for that, you weird, inconsiderate Neanderthal!

Posted by fred1st at February 3, 2003 05:16 AM | TrackBack

ummm - gee Fred - I would love to share a quirky habit with you and the world, but darn - I just don't have one. Sherm :)

Posted by: Sherm at February 3, 2003 07:32 AM

I assume that all the canonical household arguments (like the direction of rotation of the toilet-paper roll) have already been resolved.

Posted by: CGHill at February 3, 2003 08:44 AM

Oh contrare, Chaz...

I believe that you assume WAY too much! As it says in the lyrics of one of my son's songs: There's no such thing as resolution unless you're a math'metician. Toilet paper orientation is on the top of that list; or the bottom, depending on the male-female dichotomy of world view.

Posted by: fredf at February 3, 2003 09:46 AM

And as an addendum to the breakfast cereal story:

In a moment of grown-child brutal honesty, my 24 year-old son confessed to me this week (via the safety of long-distance) that this was the way the cereal mixture actually worked: 1) the entire bottom half of the bowl was filled with the BAD STUFF 2) a thin facade of GOOD STUFF went over the top of that, looking to the parental eye as if it made up the bulk of the bowl; and finally 3) the obligatory sprinkle of Sugar Bombs on top gave the appearance of moderation and obeying the house rules. Everybody was happy.

It is absolutely amazing to me that having circumvented our strident warnings of long ago, neither of our kids has lost all their teeth from eating too much sugary cereal, after all. And, neither of them has grown to the BIGGY body size we cautioned them about from eating too much of the "BAD-FOR-ME" stuff. I suppose the weird 'truth' we proclaim about some things may arise out of the same place as our inexplicable behaviors. Eh?

Posted by: fredf at February 3, 2003 09:49 AM

I suppose, Fred, but many things I read say that too much sugar will wear your body out. We may enjoy & crave it, but it's still not good for us. I ignored health stuff for years, but have only recently discovered what I've been doing wrong...like following the food pyramid!

I absolutely must have the soap in the shower caddy when anyone takes a shower. If you leave it in the wall holder, the constant barrage of water from the shower washes it away. And leaves a trail of soap scum. Yup, I'm militant about it.

I'm sure my family could tell you oodles of them.


Posted by: Cyberangel at February 3, 2003 12:47 PM

WHY does a spot of coffee on the countertop create work for the wife? Doesn't the husband wipe off the countertop his durn self?

In our family, we operated on the "vaccination" theory of sugar. Which your cereal system conforms to. The kids could choose one junk-food item from the grocery store shelf when we went to do the shopping, that is, once a week. Natasha got a can of ready-made chocolate frosting (I know, eeewww, and yuk) and Raf got a box of Little Debbies. And no more junk food came into the house. The theory was that if you refuse to let them eat sugar, all they will crave is sugar. They will eat sugar at their friends' houses. They will swap their lunchbox fruit or even SANDWICH for someone else's sugar. If you indulge them a little, they don't do a LOT behind your back.

Posted by: travelertrish at February 3, 2003 01:35 PM

Ya know, Fred, I actually LEARNED the multi-cereal routine from YOU! Until one of my visits with you (probably back in Bham days), I too thought it weird to have more than one kind of cereal in a bowl. Now if I don't have my usual twosome (raisin bran and Great Grains), my breakfast feels somehow incomplete. So, you have long since made a convert of me...now if only the theological stuff went so easily :-)

Posted by: Tim at February 3, 2003 02:38 PM

The late H. Allen Smith - much missed in these parts - used to grumble that packers of strawberries went to considerable effort to put the crummiest, scuzziest, least palatable fruits at the bottom of the box, piling the good stuff, or at least the good-looking stuff, on top.

Now if you put strawberries on your breakfast cereal, as I am wont to do....

Posted by: CGHill at February 3, 2003 10:30 PM

I haven't eaten a bowl of cereal in about a hundred years, but just the thought of mixing two different cereals knocks me clean off center. I'm a Wheaties man, when I am a cereal man. The idea of more sugar than is already in the milk just gives me the heebie-jeebies.

My biggest foible is my entire kitchen. Having to share it with three interlopers is slowly driving me around the bend. They do not understand cutting boards, food prep gizmos vs. food cooking gizmos, spice rack protocol, drawer storage usage, or anything at all about a kitchen. I'm considering a microwave-and-mini-fridge for each of them, just so they'll stay out of my damn kitchen.

Must. Stop. Now. Before. I. Talk. About. Bathrooms. Will. Kill. Self.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at February 3, 2003 11:18 PM

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