In this first book of essays collected from Rivenbark's columns, she focuses on 50's Home Economics Advice, Marriage Tips, Lazy Men, Disney movies, Southern speak, snow, exploding grits, women who make crocheted bear can vests and hats, card shopping, and Congestion in the Cold Aisle.
There is a 50s home economics textbook out there includes a section on "Recommendations for a Successful Marriage". "Textbook: Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll look refreshed when hubby comes home...Mama Celia: Get knee-walking drunk. You've earned it. You've been with four kids under the age of 7 all day....Textbook: Have a delicious meal ready...MC: Order a big, expensive dinner-to-go from a nice restaurant and call hubby at work to tell him to pick it up...Textbook: Just before your husband arrives, clear away clutter and run a dust cloth over tables...MC: Drop-kick the Little Tikes crap into the yard and hide the smaller stuff under the couch...Textbook: Make the evening his. Never complain if he doesn't take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment... MC: Complain constantly and bitterly if he balks at taking you out at least once a week. Withhold sex until he complies. Textbook: Make him comfortable. Arrange his pillow...MC: Place a pillow over his head and hold it there until he promises to do at least one household chore a month."
Some marriage rules: 1. "Never marry someone until you've established the perfect pizza ratio....Never marry a man who wants two slices one week and four the next....2. Never ask him for his opinion on colors, patterns, or textures...3.Accept that men are notorious for never completing a task. If you ask him to clean the refrigerator, which is working beautifully, by the way, except that he will have the coolant coil replaced by the end of the day and all your meat will have spoiled....4. Women, shut up....Quit talking everything to death....5.Never go to bed angry. Draw straws for the couch and resume fighting in the morning."
Disney movies can be more dangerous then they seem. "I always thought that as long as it was Disney, how bad could it be? Then, I started watching more closely. Take "The Little Mermaid". Sure, Ariel is pretty and smart and has a great set of pipes but what does she do? at 16, she deliberately disobeys her doting father and tosses him and her adoring sisters aside like week-old flounder to chase after an older man whom she decides to marry just THREE DAYS after they meet. Within mere hours of meeting Prince Eric, they're shackin' and her poor family back there "under the seaaaaaa is sick with worry."
In the South, a "Southerner can get away with the most awful insult as long as it is prefaced with the words "Bless her heart" or "Bless his heart". As in "Bless his heart, if they put his brains on the head of a pin, it'd roll around like a BB on a six-lane highway." Sadly, some Southerners are slowly stopping using southernisms like ya'll or addressing their elders properly. "The properly reared Southern child responds to such a question with a 'Yes, ma'am, Miss Lura Mae, I surely would love some more of your delicious lemonade if it's not too much trouble.' Of course, that is a bit long-winded, but we Southerners believe that a simple "yes" or "no" has a certain harshness in it that could be construed as, horror of horrors, rude."
Northerners make fun of Southerners and their fear of snow. At the threat of a snowflake, schools close and the grocery store runs out of bread and milk. "They love to say stuff like,'Geez, back home it'd snow 15, 18 inches and nothing shuts down.' Well, that's because ya'll got the road equipment to handle regular snowstorms. All we got is Bubba and Junior's four-wheel drive pick-em-up-trucks to help us out of the driveway and on our way And the truth is they're probably not budging either because there's a good chance they've gotten likkered up and have gone off to fry a turkey in somebody's backyard."
Grits can be quite dangerous. "A large pot of grits exploded and sent two people to the hospital...The grits were being prepared for a client appreciation party hosted by a Gainesville accounting firm when a large piece of the exploding pot hit one of the guests just as he was waiting for his heaping helping of fish and grits." Kids today are prepared for tornadoes, hurricanes, and fires, but no one is training them in the preparedness of exploding grits.
Try buying a birthday card today in under five hours. You can't do it. The problem is that there is a card for every conceivable occasion or condition. Such as: "We've Just Broken Up, Secret Pal...Now That You Know I'm Gay...I'm Glad You're My Doctor...So You've Had a Hysterectomy...Thanks for Covering for Me. (Who do you send this one to? Your buddy who lied to your wife and said you were playing pool at his house instead of hanging out at Hooters quaffing pitchers and wearing Hooter Girls' orange shorts on your head?)..."Our marriage may not be exactly like everyone else's but that's OK.' What does that mean? Is one of you inflatable?"
And finally, she looks at the cold aisle. Do you need Extra Strength or Maximum Strength? "...nighttime and daytime, caplets, coated caplets, enteric (who knows?) buffered, aspirin-free, with sleeping aid, without sleeping aid, effervescent, liqui-cap, caffeine-free, with cream and sugar, thin crust or hand-tossed...Did I want Co-Tylenol, Co-Advil or Co-Dependent Tylenol and Advil for the dysfunctional cold sufferer?....How often did I want to take this stuff? Every four hours, six, 12, 24? I was leaning heavily toward Contac which boasted Severe Cold and Flu Maximum Strength Continuous Action for Adults. Most adults would love continuous action."
I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell