Lauren R. Stevens: I've got to say my piece



When and why did restaurant chains decide to use only their initials as their official names? No, I’m not talking about nicknames, like HoJo’s or Mickey D’s. Presumably the current younger generation never heard of the International House of Pancakes or Kentucky Fried Chicken. I can see why the unwieldy handle of the griddle might be reduced to IHOP but KFC may have lost some of its geographic sauce.

Because sometimes less is less. A few years ago ice cream started to come in 1.5 quart containers rather than half gallons, presumably so the manufacturer could sell us less for the same price. Breyers, against which we compared all other ice cream when I was young in its then home, Philadelphia, used to fill a half gallon with "all natural ingredients." Now that it’s a product of Unilever, ingredients in some of the pared down cartons still seem relatively natural, but some Breyers in similar packaging can no longer be called ice cream, rather "frozen dairy dessert," featuring less dairy and more corn syrup. I call that unfair.

Also, is it fair that birds, chipmunks and squirrels get to get to pick the blueberries, raspberries, black raspberries and apples I’ve tended before I can? Just because, collectively, they’re out and about 24 hours, watching for the fruit to ripen and then pouncing on it at its peak -- while I need to sleep occasionally.

Those same adorable little berry brats are celebrated in the National Wildlife holiday card catalog, which arrives each year more or less by July 4. We’re to order by the end of August to get a lower rate. Christmas cards. August. Apparently it’s the same approach by which the National Geographic and The New Yorker want me to extend my subscriptions a year before they expire. A year. They are getting a no-interest loan.

It’s enough to make us swear, but actually there’s not much point in that. Words that used to be swear words are used so often, everywhere and in our faces that they have lost their edge. F*** (*** signifies a family newspaper) is now used for almost every occasion and in almost every grammatical form. Personally, I think it should be used only in extremis, only as a verb -- and never as a gerund.

But how can I tell people about these things? More and more it seems people only read e-mails selectively. Maybe I try to make three or four good points about how things are going but if a reply comes back it refers only to the first item I mentioned, the rest apparently lost, leaving me in the awkward position of contemplating another e-mail beginning, "What about Š ?"

What about many, I think most, automobile advertisements on television that show drivers doing something illegal or just plain stupid? Apparently the way to make cars appealing is to show them for uses the potential buyer cannot or should not employ. What does that tell us about the cars? What does that tell us about the buyers?

We are victims of what we see and hear. For most of our lives what passes as entertainment delivers the message than a gun is the quick and easy way to solve a problem. It is neither. Perhaps if we, as many families already do, avoid movies, television shows and video games that feature guns, we could raise a generation some of whose members might use guns, but not believing them to be instant solutions; and we could influence the entertainment industry to stop preaching gun violence.

Now I’ve said my piece. Thank you for reading all of it. Hold off on the Christmas cards. Drive safely. Avoid gun entertainment. Stop swearing and join me for a dish of real ice cream, topped with berries, in a restaurant that spells out its name. At least, that’s how it looks from the White Oaks.

Environmentalist, Lauren R. Stevens is a regular Eagle contributor.


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