Commentary 09 Apr 2009 06:47 pm
In Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats commercials, tiny cartoon cereal pieces follow kids to school, sit on their shoulders and help them with class work.
Besides being patently unfair (what about all the kids who eat corn flakes — don’t they deserve help too?) and a little subversive (do sensitive kids consider it murder to eat cereal they think is real — every crunchy bite is the rending of animated eyeballs), these commercials tell kids its OK to cheat, as long as your parents pay for it via cold, hard cereal.
Not that I’m complaining. Adults could benefit from little wheat guys too, not to whisper answers to pen-and-paper exams (once you’ve slipped on the robe and funny hat and been handed the old sheepskin, you don’t face many of those), but to help with all the real-life assessments that are evaluated by the funny looks people give you when you screw up.
Where was a little wheat sage when my wife sent me to the store to buy a candle last weekend? She wanted “something small” that she could burn in the bathroom while guests were here for a party.
If you haven’t bought candles recently, and unless you’re Old Order Amish you probably haven’t (and if you are, you probably make your own by boiling down animal fat or some equally arcane method unbeknownst to the rest of us, anyway), let me tell you it’s a real trial. Even at the corner pharmacy, which should concern itself with selling only items of immediate, practical use, there is half a row of candles: big, small, multi- or single-wick options, all in dozens of scents with unhelpful names like Periwinkle Lavender and Flibbertigibbet Red.
If I’d eaten Mini-Wheats that morning, I could have sought help from a cartoon sidekick that would let me know exactly what my wife was looking for. (A real shredded wheat wingman would have told me to tell her to go to the store herself.) Instead, I had to rely on my own nose to sniff out what I thought was a pleasing smell.
This is how far off the scent I was: When I brought a small, green pillar candle home, my wife gave me the funny look that meant I’d failed another real-life test, and then informed me that it had nothing to do smell, but everything to do with looks. Apparently, my psychic powers had failed to inform me that she wanted a candle in a glass (otherwise how could she burn it without a waxy mess on the counter), and that green didn’t begin to match our bathroom décor. From what I can tell, our décor is basically Early American Slop, but even without a shredded-wheat familiar, I knew better than to say that. Instead, in an attempt to salvage something from my $4 purchase, I told her we could burn the candle on a saucer.
Uh-uh. Shades of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, my candle was so unworthy that she wouldn’t even display it when guests arrived.
Again, the lack of a cereal helper left me to my own devices, so I sneaked the green candle upstairs in a baby-blue bowl and sat it in the bathroom. Then I had my wife’s sister, who has a slightly more developed sense of humor, compliment her on the beautiful new candle.
A crunchy cereal companion would have instructed otherwise, I know, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun as the look on my wife’s face when she realized the hated candle was on display and that the world, amazingly, was still spinning.
Sometimes it doesn’t take cereal and milk to make something — or somebody — all wet.