No kidding. I saw this on a bumper sticker on the way back from the City this evening. My first thought was “My Cat Is Smarter Than Your Pit Bull”, but my second, third, and fourth thoughts all had to do with the fact that there was actually a market for this kind of thing. And while the “pit bull” angle may have been a Custom Job, we’ve all seen these things. First we had indulgent parents warning everyone that they had a Baby on Board, then we had a hundred Pit Bull on Board, Patriots Fan on Board, Axe Murderer on Board to follow. Then we had the same parents now advising all and sundry that their kid is an Honor Student (or that All Kids are Honor Students), followed by My Cat Can Beat Up Your Honor Student.
I don’t really understand the market for any of these things. Why use a vehicle to boast about a child? What’s wrong with giving the kid a hug and a gold star? Why do their accomplishments (or lack thereof) need to be broadcast to everyone following your car at 65mph? Did anyone really believe that people who were so inattentive as to rear-end them in a collision would somehow notice, and be deterred from this behavior, by the information that the car held a child?
It may be, though, a more puzzling question to me about the rebuttal items. My interest in the subject ends with “so, nu, why use your vehicle to advertise your pride in your children?” but it is clear that other people are actually willing to spend money in order to deliver a snarky rebuttal. And not only that, but to deliver it to the world in general: I don’t actually have children, and yet someone put it my face this evening that if I did, and if these putative children had been honor students, then this person’s Pit Bull would be smarter than them. That seems like a lot of “if” to me.
The biggest question I have, though, is when the devil did we turn into a nation of self-absorbed individuals, and when did it become socially acceptable to say nasty things in the public forum? When did we get to be the kind of people that should insults at random passers-by, on the off-chance that they might stick? When did we develop the notion that we are the first generation ever to know what a treasure our children are? Where did this stuff come from?
I can’t open the paper these days without witnessing some kind of incredibly bad behavior. There is the hooliganism of the college students at the local state school, who seem to routinely get involved with violent conflict with their townie neighbors, and are routinely taken into custody for throwing bricks and beer bottles at police who have come to investigate a noise complaint…and to match this, the administration of that school reprimanding the citizens of the town for criticizing “normal” college-student behavior like urinating into private flower beds, vomiting on other people’s front doorsteps, or screaming profanity at the top of their intoxicated lungs as they stagger drunkenly back into their rental in the neighborhood at 3am. There is the vitriolic debate over whether the leash-laws should be enforced (why this is a debate at all, I do not know. They’re laws, enforce them or take them off the books.). There are the jaywalkers who disregard the walk/stop signals, and waltz out into traffic utterly oblivious of the effects of their perambulations on the ten drivers who have the right-of-way yet are and held up by this self-absorption. There are the urchins whose parents let them run free in sit-down, full-service restaurants, shrieking and caroming into diners there presumably for a quiet meal. The people who feel compelled to race their engines and travel at 40mph down a narrow residential road with family houses and kids on either side. The guys behind my house who go out and get drunk and talk at the top of their lungs until 2am, throwing their empty alcohol bottles over the fence into my neighbor’s yard. The people who walk their dogs on other people’s lawns, and don’t pick up the messes. And, for pete’s sake, don’t get me started on the ugly scene at the national debates the other night, where the answer to “should we let this person die” was a shout of “YEAH!” and a round of applause.
When did we become this society? When did we stop giving a damn about the people who surround us? When did kindness and consideration and respect become the exceptions to the rules of self-absorption, rudeness, and insults? I am pretty sure that it was not like this when I was a kid.
I’m wondering if it happened in the 80s, when we hit some limits on our ability to expand the population and continue increasing access to resources. Is that what happens when resources become scarce? People just get increasingly nasty to each other? I think a lot of what goes on here can be ascribed to fear, and that’s a sad, sad thing. The massive increase in ugliness that I’ve seen just in the last ten or fifteen years makes me wonder if the world of my step-kids’ children is going to look like Mad Max. I don’t see the resource situation improving – just the opposite. We’re being warned nine ways from nowhere that our resources are already scarce and likely to become more so, and that’s everything from space, to food, to energy, to clean water. The only solutions I can see to this are 1) people suddenly deciding to band together and work for a common good instead of focusing on getting their nut and making damn sure no one else can touch it; or 2) a massive pandemic that cuts the population of the globe by, oh, 1/2. Maybe more. And that will only forestall the inevitable, because nothing breeds with more destructive potential than a human being. Or maybe, a goat. But at least goats just destroy the flora, they don’t bomb each other into oblivion as well.
Two miles down the road, I saw another bumper sticker, and wondered if this, too, had to be said. It stated, simply, “Remember To Be Kind.”
As my act of kindness for the evening, here is a terrific, and terrifically-easy chicken dish. I served this to my husband and a dinner guest last night, and everyone raved about it. Be generous with the lemon juice – you may want to use even more than I’ve marked in the recipe.
4 T olive oil
8 whole chicken legs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
large bunch fresh oregano, chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, minced
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 large lemon
1 C pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
1 C chicken broth
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until very hot. Salt and pepper the chicken liberally and sprinkle half of the oregano over the pieces. Place the chicken skin-side-down brown on both sides (about 5 minutes per side). Remove the chicken from the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the garlic and the lemon zest. Sauté, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant but not browning. Stir in the lemon juice, return the chicken to the pan and transfer to the oven.
Roast the chicken, turning every 15 minutes about 1 hour or until the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh with a knife. After 45 minutes, add the olives, sprinkle the remaining oregano over the top and keep roasting.
When the chicken is done, transfer the pieces to a warmed platter and set the pan over medium heat. Add the broth and scrape the pan to bring up any browned bits. Salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until liquid is reduced by at least half. Pour over chicken and serve immediately.
Serves 4 or 5.