Clipping Coupons

20 May 2001

My kitchen smells like Heather. For those of you who wish your kitchen smelled like Heather, well, that's what you get when you go off gallivanting like that.

Actually, my kitchen only smells a little like Heather, and it's not because I stewed her. No. But she brought sweet peas and bougainvillea when she came over yesterday. And they are lovely and smell quite sweet, sitting right behind me as I type.

I'm a spoiled kid. If I'd been able to formulate what kinds of friends I wanted to make this year, I could use that list as a checklist for people I've been meeting. It's so amazing. I don't know how this kind of thing happens, and I guess I don't really need to know. As long as it keeps happening.

Being strongly influenced by my mother, I was cutting coupons this morning. Usually there are one or two ads that jump out at me as stupid, on a given Sunday morning. But this week...well. See for yourself.

"Introducing Grey Poupon Yellow." First of all, why is it Grey Poupon? Why, because it's vaguely greyish. Making this new mustard...Yellow Poupon. Right. Doesn't have the same ring to it, though. And it just made me wonder: who buys yellow mustard with an eye to being snooty or even classy? The yellow mustard is shown on a faintly glowing hot dog. (More on which later, I suppose.) So they recognize that yellow mustard is for hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and so on. In short: cheap food. Does Grey Poupon really want to associate itself with cheap food? Even if it's good cheap food (potato salad....), it just seems like a bad marketing decision.

Mrs. Smith's Deep Dish Apple Pie: "Just like Grandma would make!" Would make? Would make if what? If she didn't think apple pies were worthless? If she didn't have better things to do with her time?

"Diabetic Socks Help Maintain Healthy Circulation." I knew diabetes was a growing problem in America, but I didn't realize it had spread to the sock population. I hope insulin production can keep up.

"New! Popsicle Ice Cream Scribblers!" These are chocolate-dipped popsicles in the shape of crayons. Okay, grown-ups: does anybody see a reason kids should be further encouraged to use their popsicles to write on things? Just checking.

And my personal favorite, "Hebrew National Hot Dogs: We Answer To A Higher Authority." If God was going to eat a hot dog, in other words, this would be the hot dog God would eat. That's good to know, I suppose. I kind of wonder which ballpark is God's and whether God likes the little malts with the splintery wooden paddles. But the more disturbing part of this is that these hot dogs are made in New York.

I think New York and the Midwest have a pretty good thing going. We Midwesterners don't try to produce hit plays. We don't try to dress at fashion's cutting edge. (Of course, with at least half the New Yorkers I've been meeting recently....) We don't publish books, much. We don't host a lot of international meetings. We don't shoot people, and we don't push strangers around, and if we get on line, you'd better believe there's a computer involved. New Yorkers, we realize that you have specialties, and we try not to step on them. We ask so little in return. Please, don't make butter sculptures of people's heads. Don't have rodeos, you'll embarrass yourselves. And don't make hot dogs.

Knowing that they are merely round bread-food, we do not attempt to sell you our bagels. We know that if we try to make a skinny little pizza, it's going to turn out wrong. We don't even usually attempt to sell you our Chinese food. So can you please leave the hot dogs to us? Dubuque, that's where hot dogs come from. Madison. Sioux Falls or Sioux City at the outside. But not New York. Don't even try to tell me it's because they're kosher. We have Jews in the Midwest. Hot dogs, like salsa, are just not supposed to be from New York.

I expect people to laugh when I tell them about NebraSki. It's funny if I talk about the Omaha club scene. I know that. I respect that. So let's have some reciprocity here. Reciprocity is our friend.

Don't know how many times I've said that in the last month. I think I'm going to start keeping count.

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