The Hess Report


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Winning the War: Marketers

A long time ago... while watching Justice League...

Maddie: Don't turn! I want the commercials. They tell me what to like.
Me: (Grrrr. Fume.) Commercials lie to you.
Maddie: Huh?
Me: Do you think that toy is as much fun as it looks like?
Maddie: Uh huh.
Me: When you play with it, will there be that music?
Maddie: No.
Next commercial... for a toy which she has, but doesn't play with anymore...
Me: Is Lite-Brite that much fun?
Maddie: No.
Me: See. They're lying about it.br>
Maddie: Yeah.

She really got it, so I considered that a small battle won. Then, only a week ago, while watching I'm-not-sure-what, which isn't a good sign to begin with, and the commercials come on...

Maddie: I know they're lying.
Me: Yep. They are. (Good girl!)
Maddie: I like to watch them anyway.
We both laugh when the guy gets bonked. It's a funny commercial.
Me: (Grrrrr. Fume, at myself. But at least I'm honest.) Me too.
Maddie: It's okay that they're lying?
Me: As long as we remember that they're lying, it's okay.

So it's even up for the marketers. Then, just this past weekend, we're heading home from Memorial Day in a nice house on the Chesapeake. I can't stand those cramped, not-very-good, touristy "fresh" seafood places and boutique restaurants with that Capeish/Bayish kind of theme, and we want to eat with my parents who are under pretty strict time constraints, so we decide to partake of our last meal together for the weekend at... McDonald's.

We enter the restaurant.
Lucy's arms spread out before her, like a child who's just found their dog that had been lost.
With a look of beatific spleandor on her face, she cries "Ronald! We're back!"

And thus have the marketers attacked and completely demolished my exposed almost-three-year-old flank whilst I concentrated too heavily on my five-year-old front line.

Bastardos!


Monday, May 12, 2003

Maddie lost her first tooth yesterday. Actually, she pulled it out once it was sufficiently wobbly, so bonus points to her for that. Later that day, she shows up at the kitchen doorway with tears in her eyes, demanding that we tell her the truth about the Tooth Fairy. She had told me in the past that she thought the Tooth Fairy was probably just us, but she wasn't sure. But now, she needed to know. Because, you see, this was her first tooth lost. And she didn't want to think that some magical creature was going to take it from her. Sentimental for lost youth at age 5. And so there she stood, red-faced, terrified, and asking for the truth.

So I told her that she was right and that the Tooth Fairy was just a story. Other adult parties in the house at the time had expressed an urge to then extend the story into grander realms of Tooth Fairy Mythology(tm) regarding the Returning of the First Tooth, etc. My reaction to this was that a) when a fantasy that's supposed to be fun ceases to be fun for the subjected parties, it's time to end that fantasy; and b) if you're kid has enough guts to both figure out something that her own logic tells her in spite of the contradicting information she hears from pretty much every authority figure she's in contact with, and to then confront the two foremost authority figures in her life and essentially call them liars, well... holy crap. A kid like that... actually, any person, adult or child, like that deserves to have their spirit and resolve vindicated. So I gave her what she both deserved and wanted, which was, in this case, the truth.

Later, she wanted to know why anyone would make up a story like that. I told her that some kids think that sort of thing is fun. I cautioned her not to ruin it for them, and had the odd feeling that I would be saying a similar thing to her for many years to come, in many situations different in the details but same in the meta. And then we proceeded into negotiations over where the tooth would reside unto perpetuity. Of course, she still wanted fairy-like rewards for the losing of the tooth, and we were more than happy to oblige. She got a dollar (from me) and a Shoe Fairy playset (from Joy), and everyone was happy.

Except, of course, the Tooth Fairy, who usually likes more than 24 hours notice for a cancellation.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

So here’s the thing that got me doing this again. My life has been relatively free from aggravation, angst and bitterness, so there was little write about. But something happened on Saturday that chapped my backside badly enough to start writing. So consider this Hess Report, the Resurrection.

Saturday, we took the kids to a McDonald’s-based birthday party for one of our friends’ boys (he’s five now.) A good time was had by all, and most of the kids spent 90% of their time in the play station. If you don’t have kids, you may only have seen these from the window of your car, and they’re every bit as claustrophobic as they appear. But the kids love the two-story conglomeration of tunnels, slides and communicable diseases. That’s right. Diseases.

One would think that if one had two children, and those children had been throwing up during the night that one would be concerned for them. One would think that they might have some strain of influenza. Maybe something less long-lived but just as nasty. Or maybe they just ate something bad like undercooked meat. Or maybe they didn’t wash their hands after they used the bathroom and hit the fecal-oral jackpot the next time they put their hands in their mouths. Or maybe… you know what? It doesn’t freaking matter! If your kids are throwing up, you do not, under any circumstances take them somewhere that they will be playing in close quarters with other kids! It is absolute fupidity. Complete and utter. What were they thinking?

So Joy and I spent Sunday night holding back Maddie’s (5) hair while she called for the bucket every half hour on the spot. This lasted until 4 a.m. Thank you, irresponsible, stupid parents (hereafter: ISPs). Actually, Joy’s participation in this extravaganza was minimal because she was bundled on the couch fighting waves of fever and naseau. Thanks, ISPs. Oh did I mention that I spent two hours Sunday evening in excruciating abdominal pain? I didn’t? Oh, well, thanks for that, too.

Monday morning, 6 a.m., head off for work. Email from Joy shortly after seven. Maddie still heaving. Joy unable to really even stand up without falling over. Lucy, luckily, just fine. I have to burn a vacation day to take care of everyone. Now you’re costing us cash money, ISPs. Later that day, we find out that many of our adult and kid friends who were there and interacted with the disease-ridden tots are similarly ill. People had to take off work, cancel plans, etc.

Now I realize that life happens, and you make the best of it. But if the agent of life happenings becomes known to you, and it looks as if life could have happened differently if only someone had thought rationally for ten seconds instead of waddling around their house saying “Duh! Duh! Duuuuuuhhhhh!”, well, that makes it different. I am sooooo peeved at these people. However, they aren’t even acquaintances. I wouldn’t recognize them in the grocery store if I saw them. And I can hardly go to our mutual friend and ask for their contact information for the express purpose of reaming them out.

So here’s what I’m taking away from this: become a better listener. Memorize the first and last names of everyone with whom I come into even the most tangential contact. That way, if they give me a pathogenic screwing, or involve me in some other rotten-karma-inducing fiasco, I can at the very least write them a nasty letter directly. And then you won’t have to read about it here.

Other than that, the Hesses are great this week.

Many years ago, the original Hess Report was sent to friends and family every couple of weeks. People always asked for more, and their comments vacillated between “you’re hilarious,” and “you need help, and I promise I’ll never cross you.” Alas, they fell by the wayside when life imposed.

It pleases me to think (in a Montgomery Burns templing-fingers kind of way) that it was a primitive form of blogging. And so, as the world is obviously ready for this medium whose trail I so richly blazed (uh-huh), I present you with hessreport at blogspot.

Enjoy.

Fun with bad words

In the interest of clarity, I'd like to explain a convention that I'll most likely use here. Frequently. In order to keep this a fairly family-oriented thing, I'm going to use a nice abbreviation for a certain turn of phrase. It's not that I'm worried that kids will be reading this, but mostly it's that my mom will.

Anyway, it works like this: take your base word. bastard Let's say that you want to modify it. Increase it's impact. Yes, indeed, you could precede it with a two-syllable word, the participial form of what A Christmas Story refers to as "The mother of all dirty words." But let's say that your mom is in the room and that you don't so much mind her hearing the root word, although that's not the best thing that could happen, but you really really don't want her to hear the modifier, for reasons of personal moritification, etc. Let's perform a standard linguistic taboo deformation on the first word, choosing contraction as our method. We now have the new word f'bastard, which sounds like you're meeting and greeting at a Star Trek convention Klingonese luncheon.

Anyway... we take that ugly, unpronouncable contraction, run it through a decade of difficult consonant-cluster-loss, and arrive at... fastard. And there you have it. Say it in a room full people in general conversation, and it won't necessarily grab people's ears, like, for example, the word "penis" would. Clueless folks who would become disturbed at even the mention of the word "bastard" in public might not even notice that you have some something much worse. And those in the know or with anything approaching a quick wit will get it immediately, and then you'll be in all the better with them, because you've all just shared a nice little in-joke.

This can help you out in all kinds of situations. Having trouble getting noticed at the dinner table? Ask someone to pass the froccoli. Boss want to know what's wrong today? Just tell him (or her) that the fustomers can't make up their finds. So much fun.

The entire point is this: if you see me refer to someone as a complete foron, you'll know that it wasn't a typo.

Welcome to the Hess Report blog. I'll give the first content entry tonight.