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Seventeenth Sort

Fruity Pebbles, Reality TV, Happiness Gender Gap, and the Minnesota Vikings.

by Dear Jon
January 18, 2001

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Seventeenth Sort_Dear Jon-Fruity Pebbles, Reality TV, Happiness Gender Gap, and the Minnesota Vikings. FIRST TIME EVER. ONLY ACTUAL LETTERS APPEAR!

Dear Jon,
Why does Barney feel the need to trick Fred out of his Fruitty Pebbles? Why couldn't he simply ask Fred or get his own box? Sincerely, Cereal Boy


Dear Cereal,

Obviously you do not appreciate the nuances at play in Fred and Barney's "relationship." Fred represents masculine dominant power. Fred bullies Barney and asserts power over him. Barney wants to be like Fred. Barney is attracted, not so much to Fred, as to Fred's power. Barney believes that if he eats Fred's own food, Barney will become like Fred, strong and powerful. Intellectually, Barney admits to himself that this is a ludicrous fantasy, but he is compelled nonetheless. He knows that if he admits this wish to Fred, to become like Fred by eating Fred's food, he will be shamed by Fred. His only choice is to trick Fred and sneak away with the Fruitty Pebbles, to eat in secret and in shame in the tormented darkness of his own closet. As Fred thwarts him, Barney's private game shifts into a public charade, masking by allegory the dance of flirtation and seduction carried on in this ritual of tricks and thwarts.


Dear Jon,
What would make for a good reality-based TV show? Surely you can do better than "Temptation Island." Signed, Hooked on Reality


Dear Hooked, Personally, I don't think anyone can improve on the reality of taking a young couple in love, and isolating them on an island of scantily-clad whores and gigalos who are paid by advertisers to seduce them. This brings to life my own wildest adolescent fantasies, and is that not what "reality" television is all about?

However, in the spirit of your letter, I will propose a few other television show ideas for those of you who are "hooked on reality."

1. Who Wants to Be a Redneck? Jeff Foxworthy hosts this show where contestants answer a series of questions about sports and beer toward the goal of obtaining a new outboard motor and a year's worth of alimony payments.

2. Mall Survivor: Middle-aged males compete to see which one can outlast all others as they each chauffer and chaperone a group of four teenage girls on a shopping frenzy scheduled at the same time as College Basketball's Final Four.

3. Living Room Debates: The classic "Gender Gap" is brought to life in a weekly review of the Bush Presidency through the perspectives of four couples: Mr. and Mrs. Heath of Park Ridge, IL; Mr. and Mrs. Johnson of Des Moines, Iowa; Mr. and Mrs. McCoy of Lexington, Kentucky; and Mr. and Mrs. Smith of Farmington Hills, Michigan.

4. Health and Fitness Antiques Road Show: Touring auctioneers invite "fitness enthusiasts" to dust off their ab-crunchers, rowing machines, exercycles, stairmasters, dumbells, and other mothballed reminders of shattered New Year's resolutions, and sell them for scrap metal to put their kids through college.

5. Auto Mechanic Candid Camera: A woman walks into ten different garages, describes the same problem to each, and notes the answer of each, along with price estimates. A man walks into the same ten garages, describes the same problem, and then compares notes. The Auto Mechanic that demonstrates the most ethical approach to the business wins a million dollars. The other nine are reported to the Better Business Bureau.

I might actually watch some of these shows. Wouldn't you?


Dear Jon: Why are men more reluctant to get married, yet happier in marriage, then women? Are men just happier, period? -Man

Dear Man: Exactly. I do not know what the statistics are, or whether you are quoting from your experience, but all the anecdotal evidence supports your statement. Men are just happier, period.

This means that men will be more likely to be content with whatever station they are currently in. Why should a single guy get married when he is already happy? However, a woman, feeling miserable as a single, pressures a man to marry her, and then blames the man for her misery as a married woman. These comments are already chauvinistic enough, without my getting into all the reasons as to why this is the case. But one strong component is the different way in which the bodies are constructed. Men have very simple needs. If they are not thinking about food, they are asleep. If they are neither eating, thinking about eating, sleeping, or thinking about sleeping, they are thinking about sex. This is a very simple hierarchy of needs, which makes it very simple for them to communicate.

What women take as insensitive, grunt-like small talk, such as "What's for dinner?" is actually the male communicating his deepest need. Women also have a simple hierarchy of needs, but men cannot understand them. There is the need to eat, of course. There is the need to relax, which is different from the need to sleep. "Relaxing" to a man, is watching television. "Relaxing" to a woman is going out and dancing half the night. And there is the need to cry. "Crying" for no reason at all is as mysterious to a man, as "sex" for no reason at all is mysterious to a woman. It is this need to cry, especially when what the man is trying to communicate his own needs for either food, sleep, or sex, which perplexes men and lead them to conclude that women are mysterious, unfathomable, and also sadder than they are themselves. I hope this helps.


Dear Jon: The Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills have both lost four Super Bowls, but now that the Vikings choked so badly in yet another playoff game, are they officially the most pathetic team in NFL history? Sincerely, Unsigned

Dear Un, This is a leading question, because you hope that Dear Jon will come out with another rip on Minnesota, its football teams, its citizens, and its Presidential candidates. However, we need to think of the term "pathetic." To be "pathetic" is to arouse pathos, that is to say, feelings of empathy or sympathy. Nothing about the Minnesota Vikings inspires any such sentiment, as far as I am concerned. I'm not sympathetic with the Vikings that they lost 41-0 in the worst exhibition of professional football I have ever witnessed; the fact is, they backed into the play-offs, and while in the play-offs, did not acquit themselves or the Central Division of the dignity normally in accord with a play-off team, particularly of such talent and potential. Such a poor showing elicits no sympathy from me. Underachievement never does.

More to the point, however, is, who are more pathetic: Fans of the Bills, or fans of the Vikings? Bills fans suffered the agony of watching their team go year after year, four years in a row, setting its own record of straight appearances, only to lose them all. The first one was by a missed field goal on the last play of the game. Also, fans of the Vikings get to watch their team indoors. It is a close call, but all in all, Bills fans are more "pathetic" in terms of arousing sympathy.

The most pathetic fans in football, however, are fans of the Cleveland Browns. Think of it: The Baltimore Ravens are in the Super Bowl. That's gotta hurt!

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