Archive for December, 2006

Annoying is Memorable

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Have you noticed the trend for commercials to be as annoying as possible so you are more likely to remember them? One is the Head On commercial. Have you heard it yet? “Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On is now available at Walgreens.” Now Head On is running a commercial that plays on how annoying the original ad is. “Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On…apply directly…Head On, I can’t stand your commercial, but I love your product.” No doubt the company is well aware their first commercial irritated the masses. I’m guessing they were counting on it as a way of branding their product in our brains.

As much as I want to criticize companies who use this tactic, who can fault them for embracing an idea that works? I have to admit, I’ve remembered the name of the product from the first time I heard the commercial. Some of the pleasant ads their competitors air with happy, headache-free people running down the beach with yellow labs on their heels have honestly been lost on me. I can’t remember the product name after seeing the commercial a dozen times let alone once.

What is it about ‘irritating’ that gets our attention? Just like the tot in the grocery store lost in a cadence of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”, my brain seems to register the loud and annoying more effectively than the quiet and tranquil. Perhaps we’ve just polluted our environment with so much sound, pleasant noises are hard to notice. Maybe that means my husband is actually paying me a compliment when he can’t seem to hear me while he is watching television.

Of Course I’m Smarter

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

There is no way my 8 month old daughter is smarter than me. I could totally prove my intellectual superiority if I felt the need. It’s the nurturing mother in me that wants to afford her the opportunity to flex her cranial muscles and outwit me from time to time. What better gift can we give our children than confidence. In any event, it’s not like it’s an every day occurance. I mean, we are talking rare. To suggest this 20 pound bundle of infancy is running the show would be outrageous! Clearly I am the one in charge. I mean, I’m 35 and 5 times her weight. (okay…6 1/2) How is it possible for her to push me around and out smart me? The concept is ridiculous. Pure and simple. It is, right? Right?!!!

Cowboys Aren’t So Bad

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Remember the song, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys?” I think Willie Nelson could do us all a grand favor by providing a more modern version. There are so many more concerning professions Mamas need to be on the look out for now. I’d take a cowboy any day over internet predator, petty thief, white collar criminal or drug dealer.

I understand Mamas aren’t solely responsible for the adults their children become. They should play a considerable role, however. There is no denying every mass of living, breathing flesh that populates our prisons has a biological mother. Biology isn’t enough though. We wouldn’t just drop an egg in a hot pan and expect it to turn out okay if left alone. Whether the plan is for the egg to be scrambled, over easy or an omelet, it needs tending and care. Without nurturing and a little strategic manipulation, it will likely end up discarded. It’s disappointing when that happens to a perfectly good chicken egg. It’s tragic when it happens to a human being.

Growing Corns

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

It’s not a typo. I know the plural form of corn that grows in fields does not have an ‘s’ on the end. This farm girl grew up around many a corn grower. Now that I am a city girl, I am surrounded by a different type of farmer…the urban ‘corns’ producer. This farmer isn’t sporting pinstriped OshKosh overalls while perched on a green John Deere tractor. She is dressed in Prada or Calvin Klein and driving a BMW. Her fields of choice are fleshy toes with red splashed nails crammed into pointy shoes even mannequins wince when they wear. (I know this is my second post in a row with a reference to mannequins. I just realized the correct spelling of the word and want to cement it in my brain.)

What is it about pointy shoes? I recently watched the show ‘What Not to Wear.’ A stylist on that show offered her opinion that pointy shoes help elongate the body and provide a slimming effect. Um, so does good posture and exercise. Why would anyone choose to strangle her toes to look good? Sure, corns grow abundantly, but it’s not like they are a true commodity. No one is going to buy them on the free market.

Noteworthy sightings of the corns farmer:

  • Wandering the mall at a turtle’s pace while wincing and clutching the arm of an adoring Y chromosome.
  • Hiking (yes, hiking) on the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls, Virginia.  The matching bag was fabulous, by the way.  I’m sure that’s where her bottled water was.
  • Hunched over in the doctor’s office while miserably ill with something.  So committed.

Can I Ask You A Question?

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Good Lord. It is impossible to walk 20 feet in the mall without someone wanting to ask me a question. Do you feel stress in your shoulders? Is adult acne a problem for you? May I see your wedding ring? How happy are you with the shine of your nails? Want to see something amazing? Not only am I not interested in answering the questions of these mall kiosk personalities, I’m slightly irritated they feel the need to broach these subjects with me. Granted, I’m not a ‘make-up on my face every day’ kind of girl. I don’t think I look like I need THAT much work though.

I suppose these mall versions of street peddlers are a good thing. They are annoying enough I only go to the mall when absolutely necessary. Saves me a bundle, I’m sure. The downside is I am forced to gape at the half naked mannequins of Victoria Secret in order to avoid the dreaded eye contact that marks you as the next target. Yet another dig to my self esteem.  I do wonder how many injuries are incurred each year as a result of wearing unmentionables with so much wire, fur and flesh penetrating string?

RIP Santa

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Imagine my heartbreak to wake and find Santa dead on my neighbor’s lawn. Just the night before, he had been so full of life. He smiled and glowed yellow as he swayed in the gentle wind. In the harsh daylight, he was a flat and crumpled version of his former self. Amazingly, no one seemed concerned the jolly old man was no longer with us. I expected flashing lights, police tape and a chalk outline. His passing hardly attracted any attention. Pedestrians and motorists hurried by without so much as a second glance. A dog did give him a little sniff. He walked on, deciding his owner was better company than the shriveled departed with all of life’s air sucked out of him.

Part of me wonders what Santa was doing standing in my neighbor’s yard to begin with. This is Maryland, after all. It’s been in the 60’s. We’ve yet to see a snowflake. I can’t imagine that red velvet suit was a good outerwear choice. He probably succumbed to heat stroke. So sad. So sad. Santa must have fallen on hard times. I think my neighbor actually paid money to get him to stand in his lawn. Of course, with the price of toys these days, it’s no surprise Santa’s budget might have been a bit strained. If only we had known. If only we could have reached out and said “Santa, we love you for you…don’t put yourself out trying to please us with toys and goodies.” Now it’s too late. He’s gone. The spirit we enjoyed is now deflated.

My neighbor is trying to carry on as if everything is okay. No one wants to believe Santa is gone. He has managed to pump him full of air and prop him up at night to keep people’s mood festive. It’s not enough for me. I want the real guy. Listening to the motors of the machines used to keep Santa looking alive and well is too much to take.

If another jolly soul decides to fill Santa’s shoes, I hope we can find a way to make him feel loved and cared for without committing him to a life of front yard side shows.

When It’s Bad To Get Lucky

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Thanks to a few dear friends of mine (Erin and Suzanne, cough…cough) I am officially hooked on Starbuck’s Peppermint Mochas. So very yummy. Because of the calories, I do my best not to order anything larger than a Grande (medium). During a recent trip to Starbuck’s I was handed a Venti (large) sized cup. Turns out they were out of Grande sized cups and were providing Ventis without charging more. As much as I wanted to celebrate my good fortune, I knew this wasn’t necessarily a good situation. The calorie count in a Grande probably counts for 2 meals. A Venti might as well come with a warning to anticipate needing a larger clothing size.

Because I consider myself a smart woman capable of keeping my head in difficult situations, I felt confident I could muster the discipline to avoid polishing off the entire mocha. It would be silly to be proactive and dump some out ahead of time. Besides, wouldn’t taking the lid off change the temperature? Luke warm mochas aren’t so good. I’d probably end up throwing the entire thing out and that would be a terrible waste. No, I carried on with the confidence my jean size was not in jeopardy. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So, as I type this Blog with my top button undone, I want to offer some advice to the weak and weary. Know the limits of your self control. There is no fault in admitting when you may be in over your head. A false sense of confidence is dangerous. What’s done is done. I will say, a luke warm mocha probably would have been more appealing to me than a hot gym.

Roadside Convict

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

A service group I belong to sponsors a local road for litter pick up. One Saturday every 3 months we don orange vests, grab gigantic trash bags and take to the roadside. Even though picking up petrified garbage is a bit gross, there is an element of fascination over what we find decorating the grass and underbrush. It’s hard to conceive of people actually rolling down their window and tossing such things out on to Mother Nature’s landscape. The feeling we are helping to set her back to rights is rewarding and helps make the task more tolerable.

You would think the garbage in the grass would be the least pleasant aspect of service project. Not true. Amazingly, people have come to assume anyone in a vest picking up garbage along the road must be paying penance for a crime. I mean, what law abiding citizen would choose to clean up after man kind? As we clean, we are often faced with dirty looks, cars that drive recklessly around us and even people who intentionally litter right in front of us. It’s outrageous. I don’t mean to imply that kind of behavior would be acceptable if we were indeed petty thieves. The fact we are innocents in orange makes it worse somehow.

People make assumptions based on what they see most often. Though I’m in favor of putting those who violate the law to work, I don’t think the average citizen is off the hook on cleaning up the human debris field. Perhaps if we make a commitment to take on trash daily, it won’t be so out of the ordinary to see law abiding citizens picking up cans and fast food bags.

Got a Quarter?

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

I love to network and meet people. By profession, I am a third party recruiter (a.k.a. – headhunter) of accountants. Any recruiter will tell you the importance of meeting people and getting your name out there. Friends often spy me at different events passing out business cards and negotiating for speaking opportunities. Many times the events have nothing to do with accountants. For example, I participate in a group that caters to technical writers. Why do this? You just never know who the person you are networking with is connected to professionally and personally. Very rarely is my initial contact the one I end up working with. Often times it is the friend, spouse, cousin or coworker of that contact.

I frequently speak to groups of job seekers and try to drive home the importance of networking to find employment. When I quiz attendees, I often find a belief it is a waste of time to circulate with individuals who are not hiring managers while on a job hunt. Many look disappointed when I reveal I primarily place accountants. The non accountants in the room have a look of “great, this is going to be a complete waste of my time.” Never mind the library of contacts I have from various walks of life and professions. It’s so easy to write people off based on general assumptions of what they may or may not be able to do for you. It is equally tempting to chase relationships with people you feel will directly benefit you and overlook the fact others may be able to offer more help indirectly than some are able to extend directly. I try to impress upon people you should view others as a scratch off lottery ticket. It’s impossible to tell if the ticket holds a prize if you don’t take time to grab a quarter and remove the layers that hide the answer. Passing up an opportunity to get to know someone new based on an assumption they couldn’t possibly be of any benefit is just like throwing away a scratch lottery ticket before scraping away the gray matter.

Oh No! I’m One of THOSE People

Friday, December 15th, 2006

You know the type who stop at the end of the escalator to look around or fiddle with their purse in the only doorway of a store? I can’t stand it when people do that. So irritating, right? Well, guess what I caught myself doing today? Yep. My daughter was crying in her stroller. I wheeled her out of the store and stopped immediately on the other side of the door to check on her. I actually engaged the stroller brake, walked around to the front of the stroller and played with her using my car keys. By the time I was finished, she was smiling. When I stood up, I saw a small cluster of people giving me the evil eye. Jolly great. Dangling my keys while chatting “who loves you? who loves you?” wasn’t going to put a smile on their faces like it did Olivia’s.

I’d better get it together. Next thing you know I’ll be sitting through the green arrow in the turn lane while talking on my cell phone or shaking a person’s hand after sneezing into mine. I think we are all one mindless moment away from getting on other people’s nerves. Maybe I won’t assume the person to be a moron so quickly the next time.