Thursday, November 21, 2013

"It's More Than Just Ice Cream"

My mother would get apoplectic with her best friend Lea because Lea, though a college educated accountant, insisted adamantly that hoi polloi meant the upper crust fancy people, when my mother knew – correctly – that hoi polloi meant precisely the opposite – it meant the masses, or common people. 

This heated conflict, which I do not recall their proceeding to a dictionary to resolve, would be enough to trigger throbbing veins in their foreheads and semi-serious breathing problems.

I myself, as regular reading in this venue would reveal, am of a calmer, less combative nature.  Fundamentally, my mother and her friend Lea were competing on an etymological battlefield.  I compete with nobody.  (Unless they’re funnier, more successful, richer, (now) younger and/or taller.  Otherwise, I am munificently easygoing.  You choose to say things differently – by which I mean incorrectly – I couldn’t care less.  NOTE:  Not “I could care less.”)

Not that I don’t have my pet peeves.  (SEE:  One line above.)  They just don’t rise to the level of endangering health and friendships over.  Although, now that I think of it, I did nearly come to blows with one of my best buddies once over who was the funniest Marx Brother.  (Forget about it, it’s Chico.)

One thing that I notice – which is not the same as “It bothers me”, it’s just making note of a certain behavior – is when people say,

“I’ve learned to take the good with the bad.”

I realize that this is not a definitional issue like hoi polloi; it falls more into the category of logical aphasia, by which I mean, what the person is saying makes, putting it in a mathematical context, negative sense.  (And is also, I am fairly certain, not what they meant.)

I am sure you will agree that

You do not learn to take the “good” with the “bad.”

What you do learn is to take the “bad” with the “good.”


I mean, here’s this person announcing, almost bragging, that they’ve learned to take the “good” with the “bad.”  Why would that be so difficult to learn? 

The “good” is good.  To take the “good”, especially after an extended period of “bad” is not something you learn.  It is something you are eminently grateful for.

Here comes some “bad.”  Ooh, here’s some more “bad.”  Uh-oh, then more “bad” still.  Finally, some “good” shows up.

“Oh, my.  I’m going to have to learn to take this ‘good’ with the ‘bad’.”

No!  You just take it.  And you say thank you. 

Canadian Example:  “I’ve learned to take the nice days with the blizzards.”  Is that really such an accomplishment?  Bring on the nice days!  You learn to take the blizzards with the nice days – now you’re doing something! (Something I personally was unable to pull off.)

All of which leads us to this:

It has occurred to me – meaning I have recently started to notice – that I’m having a substantial amount of difficulty lately taking the “bad” with the “good.”  I don’t like the “bad.”  And it’s getting harder and harder to take it while I am concurrently enjoying the “good.” 

Three Examples:  (at least one of which I have already mentioned, and now that I think of it, possibly more, so I’ll go fast.)

Our favorite restaurant is too noisy to eat in.  The “good”, in this case, is the food, which is actually the “delicious.”  The “bad” is the din, which is so reverberatingly overpowering, you go home hoarse from talking, and minimally informed from listening, because you didn’t hear anything.

It’s a tossup whether I’m willing to go there anymore.


A coffee-selling emporium I once labeled “Café Snooty” because they made me feel like a Southern sharecropper come into the fanciest restaurant in town for a steak dinner still dressed in his work clothes (sorry, I’ve been reading The Warmth of Other Suns, about the southern migration to the north.)  The problem is their “drip coffee” is the tastiest in town. 

The “good” here is the coffee.  The “bad” is being treated as if my mere presence in there is immediately lowering their property values.

I am still patronizing the place, but I am getting increasingly intolerant of the price I have to pay.   And I don’t mean the three-fifty for a small black coffee.

THREE:  (And the reason for this blog post)

The TV entertainment I enjoy most – binge viewing Law & Order SVU on the USA Network – is inundated with commercials for a multiplicity of medicines, lawsuits for when the medicines make you worse (or if you have asbestos poisoning), supplemental health care (in case yours runs out and you’re still sick), Public Service Announcements about keeping stray animals from euthanasia, and Ben Affleck reminding us to remember the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

To name just a sampling.

I understand about “targeting.”  Ad buyers match their commercials to the demographic watching those shows, which in this case they believe is an older demographic and from a “Sampling of One”, they’re right.  But one reason the older demographic watches TV is for a temporary diversion from the travails of aging.  And let me tell you, fellas, in that regard, these commercials are not helping in the least!

Learn to take the “bad” (these demoralizing clusters of commercials) with the “good” (my regular enjoyment of {phonetically pronounced} “SVUE)?  I’m not sure I can handle the tradeoff.  Or want to.

Thinking about this reminded me about my life.  Overall.  It appears to me that I have always had difficulty taking the “bad” with the “good.”  (Though very little difficulty taking the “good” with the “bad.”)

I recall at age four or five, after being treated to my first ice cream cone, suffering an excruciatingly painful “ice cream headache.”  Though my tears, I can recall myself blubbering,

“I like ice cream.  But take away the cold!

That was my first experience in being incapable of taking the “bad” with the “good.”  And it went on from there, arguably throughout my entire show biz career.  I had no problem with the “good” (money, awards, the respect of my peers.)  But I had great difficulty accommodating the “bad” (time pressure, crazy actors, meddling executives.)  The truth is, it viscerally annoyed me. 

“What’s this ‘bad’ doing messing up my ‘good’?”

It turns out, however – and I may perhaps be the last one to realize it – as with the ice cream situation, and “Heads” and “Tails”, the two conditions are inextricably inseparable.

It is a lifetime challenge, learning to take the “bad” with the “good.”  Right now, I am struggling to accept the erectile dysfunction commercials and the desperate look in those abandoned puppies’ eyes, so I can continue watching my favorite television show.

If I fail, I may never hear the words “Confronting your attacker is the first step towards feeling better about yourself” again.

A clichéd line of dialogue, which, come to think of it, is the “bad” in the “good” that is the rest of the show. 

So the struggle is “internal” as well.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

When I read postings like this I itch to fix the problem. So, for the favorite restaurant, I suggest taking home a menu, and thereafter calling to order the food which you will pick up and take home to eat in peace. (I also hate noisy restaurants.)

The coffee thing is harder to fix, but there must actually be some way to make similar coffee at home.

The aging thing, I can only suggest taking a hit of a year or so and shifting to binge-watching SVU on DVD commercial-free and putting some money into SENS (Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence) and hoping they get somewhere while there's still time.


Alan said...

You can't have your cake and eat it, too

Alan said...

oops, I can't eat your cake and have it too...proving your point