Today, while on line at Shoprite, I watched the man ahead of me unload a brimming cart. His purchases included lots of fruit and vegetables, a three-pack of sippy cups, whole grain bread, diapers, a few “green” cleaning supplies and a pie. He turned to put the dividing bar between his purchases and mine so the cashier wouldn’t mistakenly start to combine our orders but I waved it away and pointed out how no one could miss the difference between our groceries. Mine included Peanut M&Ms, the National Enquirer, a 30-pack of cold beer, a package of paper plates and some drain cleaner. Good and evil were both as clearly represented on that conveyer belt in Shoprite as they are on the conveyer belt of life. And, you can see which side I was on.
I made a little joke of the difference between our groceries, referencing my theory of good and bad, but he was not amused in the least. In fact, he looked a little scared. This made me want to throw my head back and howl like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. The conflict of good and evil swirls about us every day on TV, movies and even in our homes: Jay Leno and NBC vs. Conan, the bitchy Scarlet O’Hara vs. saintly Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind and even me and Seth, sitting here in the family room.
Case in Point: I recently forced Seth to watch Oprah’s “Favorite Things.” Those familiar with the talk show queen know that this is her annual holiday give-away and I love watching the people in the audience go absolutely berserk when presented with free stuff. They actually have paramedics on hand in case anyone keels over from excitement. Thousands of dollars worth of merchandise—things Oprah, herself, loves— is distributed to the lucky crowd. Originally, the audience was just a random bunch of lucky bastards. In recent years, Oprah hand-picks an audience of people she considers worthy of this bounty. One year, it was teachers. This year, it was community acitvists. I have been waiting, in vain, for the year of overweight, middle-aged women who love Cash Cab but it seems that this demographic has been cruelly overlooked. As they squealed in happy excitement and were showered with things like diamond watches, cashmere sweaters and fancy cameras, Seth was smiling. He was truly happy to see these people enjoying this unexpected extravaganza. I, on the other hand, spent the hour scowling at the television and kicking at the cats as they passed on their way to the litterbox. Where were my $90 be-jeweled ballet flats? Where was my panini press? The year the crowd all received stainless steel refrigerators with TVs in the doors, I almost needed a paramedic. Good (Seth) vs. Evil (Me).
I don’t make a habit of tripping orphans or disturbing birds nests but I was unable to enjoy the elation of the audience. I buy the National Enquirer to gloat over celebrities cellulite and bad plastic surgery. I pick all the mini-Snickers out of the basket of Halloween candy, leaving only the rolls of Smarties and the new, weird green Twizzlers. I don’t bring my shopping cart back to the special designated area in the parking lot when I’m done with it. I don't even think koala bears are cute, for the love of God! Where will this end? What else am I capable of?
The audience on “Oprah’s Favorite Things” all got a cruise to the Carribean this year. That had to have irritated even you a little bit. Admit it. Here, have a mini Snickers—it’ll make you feel better.