Why We Love, and Hate, 'Honey Boo Boo'
Perusing magazines in the grocery checkout line recently, screaming headlines promised all the gritty details about:
- The Secretary of State "dirty dancing" with another woman;
- (2) Reality show Teen Moms "star" admits to drug abuse in a "tell all" interview; and
- (More) of the "inside story" of the affair between the young star of those vampire movies and her (married) director.
As my gaze wanders over the tabloid covers, I become aware of a real-life drama mounting ahead of me. The woman in front of me in line is tossing—you might say flinging—the items she's just unloaded from her cart back into it.
Froot Loops. Diet Sprite. A bag of Red Delicious apples.
She sighs loudly, and when our eyes meet, she nods toward the person in front of her and rolls her eyes with practiced contempt.
The object of her scorn speaks to the cashier with the careful grammar of a person who knows the rules of English well but was not born into a family that speaks it.
"I am sorry," she says. "What is the matter?"
"You can't get this," the clerk answers curtly, holding up a box of cereal.
"Pardon me, please," the customer says. "I do not understand."
"Look here!" the clerk answers, holding the box up higher. "The second ingredient in here is sugar! It's sugar cereal. You can't do that with WIC."
My outraged line-mate maneuvers around me, mumbling under her breath, "For the love of God."
Customers in adjacent checkout lines stare at the woman who's had the audacity to buy sweetened cereal with her welfare coupon. Raised eyebrows and tutts of disapproval erupt on all sides One man stage-whispers a disparaging comment to the customer behind him.
I glance at the Honey Nut Cheerios sticking out of the end of my cart. Somewhere, buried underneath, is a bag of Special Dark Hershey Kisses. But no one will judge me for having chosen sugary treats. I speak the native language, have a credit card to swipe, and follow the unspoken rule that says you can do what you want as long as you don't make anyone else uncomfortable in the process.
If you have an accent, well, that's your problem. Just nod, and don't expect us to try to decipher it. If you are using WIC funds to purchase your groceries, put only the appropriate items in your cart. And for the love of God, don't hold up the line.
We Americans are weary.
We're bone-tired from shouldering the weight that years of an ongoing recession, divisive culture wars, and obfuscating military campaigns in the Middle East.
We can barely stand to hear yet another story about high-tech child predators, rising gas prices, and the falling value of our homes.