Tuesday, September 4, 2012


There has always been a peculiar suspicion in American culture toward things that are fun and foods that taste good and also sex, which can be both (don't get us started).
This attitude is made manifest in the belief that anything enjoyable must have a down side, and if a down side does not seem to exist in reality then one needs to be invented.
Our own particular first exposure to this attitude was either an Ann Landers or Dear Abby column that ran sometime around 1965. In that column some parent wrote that her teenagers were pizza addicts and she was worried about their nutrition.
What Ann (or Abby) wrote back was that a deluxe pizza with cheese and vegetable and meat toppings often constitutes a "meal in itself";  but parents should be sure that a salad was consumed with the pizza. 
A salad? Why in hell do you need a salad to go with a pizza that has everything including "roughage" from the green peppers, onions, and other vegetables? Why? Because the salad is punishment for the indulgence, is why.  
Don't get us wrong here. We love a good Caesar salad, we have constructed some doozies at restaurant salad bars, and even iceberg wedges with blue cheese dressing are mighty tasty, or at least we are of that opinion. But the typical Midwest family style salad of the day consisted of iceberg lettuce and tomato quarters dressed with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise! That crap was actually arguably worse for body and soul than the pizza! So, let the kids have a pizza as long as they punished themselves with a horrid concoction of blah crap that actually had less nutritional value than the pizza they enjoyed? What was the point?
Well, of course the point was (and remains) that every pleasure MUST have a downside attached, that there MUST be unpleasant consequenses for every pleasant experience. Go camping, get poisoned by poison ivy. Go to the beach or the pool, get a sunburn (or in the alternative coat yourself with zinc oxide and look like an idiot). Fall in love, get married, have fantastic sex and wind up with five brats who literally eat up your paycheck and cause you no end of headaches and heartaches the way I and my siblings did our folks.
We generally deem aborting a pregnancy to be wrong on the grounds that it is taking a human life. But we are not a member of what I call the "pickled fetus crowd", who literally carry around not just gruesome pictures of aborted babies but actual butchered fetuses preserved in formaldehyde to gross people out. These people are more interested in possible pregnancy as a deterrent to sex outside of marriage than they are about the "rights of the unborn". And while we are to a large degree sympathetic to the anti-abortion views of the pickled fetus folks, we have absolutely no objection to the use of rubbers (condoms), which prevent the formation of a fetus in the first place. The pickled fetus crowd finds even rubbers objectionable, because they take away a possible consequense to the pleasure of sex.
We were completely flabbergasted back in the early 1980s and the first stages of the AIDS pandemic to see certain of the anti-pleasure crowd bemoaning the search for vaccines and cures for HIV because AIDS had the potential of being a powerful deterrent to sexual indulgence. Sadly, thus far these folks have gotten their wish. (Nevertheless, we do agree that teaching 11 year old kids how to put a condom on a banana is going quite a bit too far.)
Particularly anusing is the attitude toward masturbation. Graham crackers were invented by a Scots-American physician who believed that children who ate them would be less inclined to - er - experiment with their genitalia (ha! I ate Graham crackers by the carload and... well, TMI, I suppose).  This "solitary vice" (vice?) is both universally looked down on and universally practiced, even by married people. No one will admit to it, everyone will say it is disgusting... yet everyone does it. Hook someone up to a polygraph, ask them if they masturbate, and if they say "no" the damn machine will flip out.
This attitude of pairing unpleasant consequenes to pleasure is rooted in a belief that pleasure without consequence is the path to absolute hedonism. And there is a tad of merit to this. As George Carlin observed; if he could lick himself the way his dog did, he'd never leave the house.
Nevertheless, if I am having a pizza, that's what I'm having; and maybe a beer or a glass of wine. I'll have a salad with my pasta, I'll have a salad with my steak. But with my pizza I'll just have another slice, thank you; and if that bothers you you can go eat a salad, for all I care.

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