So there's this popular myth that Eskimos have some ungodly number of words for snow. On account of they see so much of it that renaming it over and over again distracts them from the fact that they live in hell, I guess. (Similarly, is it any wonder why our language has so many synonyms for idiot?) I guess I understand what would make such a bullshit story so believable in the first place. I mean, new words are created all the time, necessitated either by societal/technological changes ("Blog." Gezundheit.), or boredom ("fo rizzle"), or both ("incentivize"). But Internet, I have found an area sorely lacking in adequate language and I've come to ask your help. That area: Emotional discomfort. Specifically, parental emotional discomfort. Specifically-er, the discomfort precipitated by hearing the following: "A new report from (insert authoritative sounding organization) suggests that (insert item used/consumed by your child regularly) may cause (insert terminal disease/horrible disfigurement)." The latest blank-filling demon? Hot dogs. I mean, it's not like anyone ever believed they were chock full of vitamins or anything ("a hot dog a day" ... not exactly the kind of slogan you want emblazoned on your sister's t-shirt). But now apparently hot dogs are gaining on cigarettes in the race for the title "that which can kill one most expeditiously." Hot dogs. Do you have any idea how many hot dogs I've eaten? How many I've fed to our children? The 3 times I've ever seen Rachael Ray? She was demonstrating different ways to cook hot dogs. Possibly the only recipes I've ever written down from a TV show. And don't think I'm not totally suing that bitch if I end up with cancer. And the Pringles people, too. Turns out they may not legally be able to call their product "potato chips" anymore because they don't have any potatos in them. What. Thefuck. At least they don't kill you. YET! (Oh, and by the way, guess what's one of Ethan's favorite meals. Right, hot dogs baked in Pillsbury crescent rolls -- thanks for the recipe, Rachael, you bitch -- served with cheddar cheese flavored Pringles. Hello? Parent of the Year committee? Why, I've been waiting for your call.) And red meat. I watched a video on Ted.com about the environmental and health impacts of the largesse of the beef industry and in the 6 months since have maybe had beef twice. And I grew up eating beef. Or at least wanting to eat beef -- being told that beef was the ultimate goal, the culinary Valhalla of eaters everywhere, even though with 7 kids our family could rarely afford it. Food. It used to be so uncomplicated. You kill it, you eat it, you poop it out. Boom. End of game. Now it's like Russian Roulette each time you put something in your mouth. Vegetables? Make sure they're not contaminated with e coli. Fruits? Citrus canker. Grains? Diabetes risk. Seriously, Nutrisystem doesn't even have to espouse weight loss to get me to consider them. Just assure me that no pre-packaged goodness you would ship will kill my family. Another area where I need new words? Describing that dread you feel when you're with someone when the aforementioned kind of message comes on TV and you're too tired and/or jaded to want to take it seriously but you just know that the other person is gonna want to talk about how you need to totally change your lives because you were killing your kids all along but didn't even know it. Now, I love Sandi (hi, baby). One of the most amazing women I've ever met (love you, baby). But she often forgets that there existed a time before we were aware of such perils and why the hell was I poisoning our kids for all those years (don't kill me in my sleep, baby). Example: Sandi, who will freely admit to being obsessed with health news updates, one day read that the minimum amount of time one should spend brushing one's children's teeth is 2 minutes. That night -- that fateful, very uncomfortable night -- I happened to be brushing Ethan's teeth and doing what I considered to be a fairly thorough job. HA, Fool! No shit, she bursts through the bathroom door, grabs the toothbrush out of my hand and shoots me the kind of look usually reserved for too drunk boyfriends who talk about their sex lives at otherwise sober get togethers with parents. "You. Can't. Just. Brush nyahnyahnyah, here and there. You HAVE TO brush for at LEAST 2 minutes or you might as well not brush at all. TWO MINUTES!! I JUST READ that today!!" "Ass." OK, she didn't say "ass," but she may as well have. Veins are writhing beneath her skin. She is angry. I think for a second about pointing out the fact that she just learned this today, that as recently as yesterday she was condemning our children to a life of toothlessness. I choke back and hold my tongue. So now every time the news is on and some over coiffed asshat declares that everyone will die from something new, I cringe. And I have no idea what to call that cringing. "Inappropologoriasis?" I suck at that, although I'm pretty sure I could be among the world's greatest roller coaster namers. Check this out: The Infernoclops. I know, right?
"I like food. I like eating." -- Sarah Michelle Geller