Note: This "Grounds for Insanity" column was published in the 07/02/12 edition of The Goshen News. Mayor Bloomberg, let's talk.
If there were an encyclopedic set entitled “Great Mysteries of Modern Life,” this one would fill an entire volume of its own. It ranks right up there with “Where Do All the Socks Go” and “How Do I Always Pick the
Poky Lane?” It really does.
“How Politicians Think.” That's what's confounding me today. I sure wish I could nail it down and write the book because it’d sell for sure. I’d win the Nobel Prize in Literature, top the Times’ bestseller list and get interviews to who-shot-Lizzie from the whole bloomin’ thing.
“What are they thinking in
New York City?” That was the reaction of citizens across the
country when the news broke recently.
The uproar began when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to go after a basic American privilege – the right to have a large soft drink in hand (right or left) and the right to actually enjoy it. Citywide, anxious New Yorkers clutched their Big Gulps and went back for refills.
As if that weren’t enough, the board handpicked by Mayor Bloomberg to approve the proposed ban on the sale of large, sugary drinks zeroed in on other targets. “The popcorn (at movie theaters) isn’t a whole lot better than the soda,” said a Mr. Bruce Vladeck. And Dr. Forman, another board member, added that certain milk drinks, such as milkshakes and milk coffee beverages, were high in calories and should be size regulated, too. There was, I noted, no mention of high-calorie alcoholic beverages. This, as I clutched my white mocha a little tighter and went back for a refill.
Politics run amuck. What else was it when a city (in
California) went after
the children (Happy Meal toys) and then climbed into the cups of Mr. and Mrs.
Average Citizen? It was crazy, that’s
what it was.
All of this went through my mind the other day as I was engaged in a common summer activity; i.e., the making of strawberry jam. “Mayor Bloomberg's teeth would curl straight up to his gumline,” I thought as I folded in the sugar. It was good the Fun Police were busy elsewhere because we liked our jam around here and didn’t need a city council going after it.
We liked our ice cream, too. Actually, we loved our ice cream. Last summer, Mr. Schrock had even taken up the sport of ice cream making. The recipe, introduced by Friend and Fellow Numbers Guy, Kirby, had been known to make grown men weep, though when I gently questioned the “grown man” I knew, he vigorously denied it and harrumphed that he’d “gotten something in his eye.” Of course.
No one complained when he set out to duplicate Friend Kirby's recipe. Supportive family that we are, his efforts were lauded, applauded and highly encouraged. There was no shortage of taste testers and bowl lickers, either, as he honed his craft. Mocha chip, cookies and cream, fresh peach and chocolate chip cookie dough all garnered rave reviews. I couldn’t be sure how they’d be received by the pols, but the locals here were throwing flowers.
Pastries were another family favorite. Gooey, homemade cinnamon rolls slathered with cream cheese icing and dunked in hot chocolate were a fall and winter sensation. For a mother known as The Original Egyptian Slave Driver, they spelled j-o-b s-e-c-u-r-i-t-y. They’d quelled any number of riots threatened by a disgruntled populace who found it difficult to fuss when their mouths were smiling and full. Brussel sprouts and carrots wouldn’t cut the mustard, not when the natives were restless, and mothers knew it, too.
Maybe it was the rarefied air out there. Maybe it was living in an ivory tower. Perhaps it was too much time spent with elites and intellectuals and not enough with the garbage haulers and the deli workers; in other words, the common man, that skewed one’s perspective. That made those in power feel the need to legislate such details for simple folk like me as though we were a little too dim to make responsible choices by ourselves.
It seemed condescending. That's how it struck this mother of four who, thankfully, didn’t live amongst the elites in a concrete jungle, but rather in the country where the corn grew tall and the frogs croaked long.
Here, we were responsible, and we fed our kids veggies. Here, boys ate salads, and they learned that they liked them. Here, we grew gardens, and they learned how to work.
We exercised, too. Like many other American families, children rode bikes out here on The Three. We walked and we ran past the corn growing tall. We jumped, leaping, laughing, on the family trampoline as bullfrogs croaked loud in the pond.
Here, there is ice cream. And yes, there is pizza. Then, too, we eat chicken, tomatoes and cheese. We love summer salads and the freedom to choose them.
The freedom to choose…that's all that we’re asking. That, and a side of the jam.