Tag Archives: trader joes

Butt Why?


No. I wanna betta bus bench.

Nothing like having a daughter who is just starting to read to fire up your feminist leanings. Do we really have to look at this crap? Does she? This particular ad is ubiquitous in the East LA neighborhood I live in. I passed it three times on my way to Trader Joe’s this morning.

“No,” I muttered each time, growing more caustic-sounding with each sighting. “No, I don’t. No, my butt is fine. No, her butt is fine. All of our butts are fine, you idiots!”

This last bit I yelled. A lady waiting for the bus shot me an alarmed look.

“Sorry,” I muttered apologetically. Then I rolled up my window.

Another turn, another bench. I pondered the model’s ass, which she is dutifully raising for us to inspect. Annoyed, I moved on to her face. So vapid, so anodyne. What is she really thinking? Impossible to say beneath the exuberant airbrushing. Maybe she’s calculating how much she’ll make on this shoot. Maybe she’s thinking about sushi for lunch. Maybe she’s trying not to pass gas. Butts do that too, you know.

What’s for sure is that she’s not thinking about my kid, and neither  is the company whose jeans she touts. But I am. I’ll have to explain this ad, and every one like it, to her. No billboard, placard, or sign escapes her notice now that she can read. We’ve discussed “Little Caesar’s” at great length (perhaps she was too young for the Ides of March?) We’ve learned about STDs (as I said, this is East LA). We’ve dissected watch ads, liquor ads, car ads, ads for things even I find disturbing.

And now we’ll have to start dissecting this. The pouty-lipped, unnaturally posed, slightly hostile-looking girl on billboard concept. And allllll that it entails. Oh, MJ. How can I explain?

I want a better bus bench. I want a better world. Or I want my kid to forget how to read.

Milestones. And Miles of Stones

Breaking news: Myra-Jean starts preschool tomorrow. Crazy. Huge. Monumental, you might even say. But I’m good with it. Mostly. OK, I have wept about it twice. Both times unexpectedly. And both times, weirdly, in retail settings.

The first was last week at Vroman’s Bookstore, when MJ tried on the matching backpack and lunchbox — pink and owl themed — that I would buy her, in an unnecessary but psychologically relevant consumerist ritual, to celebrate the start of her educational journey. Does she really need a backpack? Of course not. What’s she going to carry in it? Pebbles? Legos? Her security blanket? As far as a lunchbox, all I ever had was a paper bag. Still, one must keep up with the mini-Joneses. I decided to get her the damn things. And all it took was an elderly lady walking past us in the aisle and saying to MJ “don’t you look cute? Back to school?” I bawled.

That was embarrassing. More embarrassing still? I had to go back three days later and return my purchases due to concerns over their PVC content. I bought their replacements on Amazon. They were still owls; but this time green. Sort of.

The second crying incident was at Trader Joe’s. It started when the cashier made an innocent inquiry about the many bags of chips I was purchasing. Eight, in all.

“You guys entertaining for Labor Day?” she asked, as she shoved the whole heap to the bagging area.

“Actually, no,” I replied. A pause. “You see, my daughter starts preschool on Wednesday, and — ” Here the tears welled up. Whoa! I flapped my hands in front of my eyes while the cashier watched me warily. “Sorry. I just — I’m supposed to help bring snacks on Wednesdays.


I nodded. More flapping. “Yeah. And I’m the grain person –”

The cashier bent to examine something. I couldn’t see what.

“She’s been with me 24/7 for three years. My daughter.” I wiped my face with the back of my hand. “I’m so sorry. I figured lentil chips were a grain. Right? Aren’t lentil chips a grain?” My tone, at this point, bordered on the hysterical.

The cashier scanned each item determinedly.  Finally she looked up at me with a careful smile, as if soothing a fragile clown. “Would you like any cash back today?”

I’m hoping that any further emotional breakdowns can be had in the safety of my own home.

In other, tangentially related news? We have decided to hire a landscape designer to help us with the hellhole. So far we’ve had three candidates come and look at the job. Each one has been warned in advance of the dismal nature of the site. Each one has said, over the phone: “I’m sure I’ve seen far worse!” And each one, upon seeing the situation, has registered levels of shock, bewilderment, and even grief upon their faces that rivaled anything I’ve seen in Greek tragedy. Talk about sudden tears.

“It’s a lot of cement,” said one. I half expected him to raise his arms to the sky, look up, and yell “Gods, Nooooooo!”

I know. I know it’s a lot. I don’t need to be reminded. Mike and I have rued the state of this rocky mound of misery many, many times. If you can have house-shame — and you can — then ours centers around this yard. If there were such a thing as house therapy — and there should be — our back yard would be the parental figure that loomed largest: the alcoholic tyrant, the abandoning ass, the neglectful narcissist.

I know, too, that even without the therapy it’ll cost a fortune to do anything about it. Still, I like to spend some part of my waking hours in fantasy-land. The current dream: that we can afford to make at least a start. So my daughter can have a place to play where she won’t cut, impale, or fracture herself, won’t get toxoplasmosis from the cat poop scattered about (because every local feline sees our backyard — understandably —  as a giant, al fresco, sun-warmed crap-bed), and won’t be blinded permanently by the vicious and lacerating glare from sun on the concrete.

But if we can’t afford any of it? At least her school is pretty. Very. And green. With a lovely garden, chickens, a water feature, a turtle, a mud kitchen. We can, at least, give her that. Provided I get the snacks down. And manage to hold myself together this week.