Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stubborn? Me?

Do you remember those ads on TV where Coast bar soap and Irish Springs used to compete with how their soap "went all the way through the bar"? I won't begin to touch why that was supposed to impress us. As, after all, soap should indeed be solid soap and thus "go all the way through the bar". Still, that was the thing. Irish Springs had the people dressed in green with accents whistling, "Clean as a whistle," with the uber pronounced "h" in Whhhhistle. Remember? And Coast had someone like Joe Montana effortlessly breaking a bar of soap in two, proving the "through the bar" claim. A little boy was in the locker room and couldn't break the bar, so Joe snaps it and the boy's like, "Ooooh, Joe Montana, you're so strong and my  hero for breaking soap in half!"

And again, we'll try not to notice the derogatory Irish references of red-haired dancing people in green with poorly reflected accents, or the fact that it's just weird to have a little boy in a man's football locker room after a big sweaty game. Joe Paterno, folks, Joe Paterno.

So the boy was about my age when that ad came out. I'm guessing here, because it's not like they flash the kid's age on the screen and say, "Look at this little boy who's so strong and boy-like in his rough and tumble boy way of being a boy. Which you aren't, Mia, for you are a girl and therefore not boy-strong." But alas, they might as well have done that because it became like a personal challenge to prove that I was stronger than the twerp. Maybe because it was the 80s and women were wearing bigger shoulder pads than even those football players needed. Maybe it was because the climate of the time was the unstoppable force of womanhood trying to break through the glass ceiling of business. I dunno, but I KNEW I was stronger than that boy. In a quest, rather like my own Labyrinth to self-awareness, I needed to demonstrate my girl-power.

Mom was not pleased to find broken soap in every bathroom of the house. Or otherwise unopened bars still in the cupboard.

I was sad when my challenge to prove I was stronger than boy-ness, and equal in strength to Joe Montana came to an end. But TV provided a new challenge. LAY'S POTATO CHIPS!!!! "You can't eat just one." Wanna bet? Those boys on the ad may be unable to eat just one luscious sour cream and onion chip, hear it crack between their hard teeth and dissolve like greasy sin on their tongues. THEY might not have been able to impress their fawning female girlfriends with their will-power to resist. BUT I COULD. I, in my ten or twelve year old girl-glory COULD!

I was on a mission. I opened every bag of chips in the house and in grandma's. I even opened the ones in the grocery carts before they were purchased. I didn't just stop at Lay's, but their competitor, Ruffles (they have ridges, y'all), Doritos, Frito Lay, Cheetos! Was it really my fault that they went stale so quickly after opening?

Unfortunately, I saw a dilemma. Eating just one needed parameters. Just one at a time? Just one at a sitting? Just one for one entire bag? Because now I'd opened them. When the family had burgers, I couldn't eat chips! I'd already had my one! But did I just have one? I had opened every bag. Didn't that mean I'd had more than one and in my quest to perfect the challenge, I'd crippled myself by eating several of every kind? And did eating just one mean one of each flavor. Egads! What to do?

Simple, I decided I had won the Lay's challenge and there on never ate Lay's again, preferring Ruffles who didn't make up such ridiculous rules. That stubborn streak continued until about five years ago when I wondered why I preferred Ruffles when those nasty little ridges made the roof of my mouth sore.

M&Ms had a challenge to. Do you remember? "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand." I could promise you that they absolutely melted in my mouth. Grandma used to keep a candy dish stocked with M&Ms. Once that ad hit the airwaves, I knew what I had to do. I had to hold M&Ms in my chubby little hand until they melted. I was sadly disappointed. It didn't take long at all. Not a worthy challenge for a girl bent of proving her might. SO I FROZE THEM FIRST! Aha! Brilliant plan, little Mia! They were damn cold but I suffered through. I played, my fist tightly clenched to protect them. I didn't peak for an hour even after my palm felt mushy. Why? Because I didn't just want to win, I wanted to devastate!!!!!!

Now in my adulthood, I'm looking for that fearless little girl again. I knew myself back then. I knew I was unstoppable. I was the queen of my little world and powerful. The only challenge I'd been unable to beat was ripping the phonebook in two. I did compensate by ripping every single page in half, including the cover on both the yellow, white and community books. Again, not a pleased Momma out of that, but I didn't care.

I'm searching for that strength of conviction. Where did it go in thirty years? What happened to make her retreat and by golly where's the key to the door so I can unlock her. I need some of that, "Don't tell me I can't" attitude.



Jenny Trout said...

I'm kind of expecting to come to your house and see all your soap broken. OMG, this cracked me up so much.

Harlie Williams said...

Mia, you crack me up so much. I remember every commercial that you mentioned. At our house, it was the plop, plop, fizz, fizz that my younger brother and I had to try out. :)

I'm still looking for my fearless child to come back to me so for right now I look to my son and see it in him.


anny cook said...

Mia--She's there. A little battered by life, but there. I have confidence that she'll emerge a little bowed, but unbroken.

Love ya!

Mia Watts said...

@Jenn, I did this for about a month. Drove my mom NUTS. My brother acted like a put out teen girl and my dad laughed. They didn't see the importance. Wonder why.

Mia Watts said...

@Marika, I remember that one!! Alkaseltzer. We had vitamin c tabs that fizzed. I hated them, but would sing that song when I had to drink it every morning. OH and poprocks and coke. The rumor was it had killed the Life Cereal kid (not true) and I wanted to prove it wouldn't. I never got the swallow down. Foam spewed out of my mouth before that could happen.

Mia Watts said...

@Anny, I'll keep pushing away the tattered curtains. Thank you for hang on through the disaster years.

Dawniepants said...

This is so funny! I laughed! I think I'm very glad I didnt see that ad, as an Irish girl it sounds embarrassing!


Mia Watts said...

@Dawnie, Right?! I have a lot of Irish in me. I think I was predisposed to hating it. On the other hand, it was also a really lame ad. Suckage was bound to happen.

Glad I could make you laugh. :)

marsella said...

nice blog .... i like :-)

bella said...

Looks like you have put a lot of effort in your blog, thank you for taking the time to write such useful information. thank you ... :-)

Mia Watts said...

@Marsella, Thanks!

Mia Watts said...

@Bella, Um. Yer welcome. I didn't know my being a freak was useful, but if it floats your boat, hey! more power to ya. LOL.

Molly Daniels said...

ROFL! Mine was the Nestle Quik commercial. I could 'sip it slow', and I'm with you on the whole 'can't eat but one' thing. I'm not that fond of Lays' chips anyway.

And yes, we loved the 'plop plop fizz fizz' commercial!

Remember the 'Nestea Plunge'? We spent HOURS at the pool trying to fall that way! And not just off the side; we'd do it off the diving board.

I'm not so much in 'fearless child' anymore as much as 'Mama Bear' mode right now. 'Fearless child' shows up every Tuesday and Wednesday, ha ha....

Bronwyn Green said...

Wanna know what's funny here? You've always seemed fearless and full of conviction to me - stubborn, too - but also those other things. :)

Also, having met your parents, I'm dying laughing over all the open bags of chips, broken bars of soap and ripped up phone book! :D

Mia Watts said...

@Molly, I don't know about the Nestea plunge!! How did I miss that one?!

Mia Watts said...

@Bronwyn, I put on a good act, babe. I'm usually shaking in my boots but as long as no one else knows it, hey, I'm good. :)

Yeah, Mom was sooo not pleased!

Katie O'Connor said...

What you need now is a challenge. It seems that the best way to motivate you is to say you cannot do something.

So I double dog dare you to write another story! (Because we all love your work)

Mia Watts said...

@Katie, I'll take that dare, madam and blow the challenge out of the water. ;)

Thank you.