Monday, March 8, 2010

Aisle 3, In The Lazy Parent Section

I’ve slipped into a trap. I began buying Lunchables for my sons to take to school.

For any that don’t know, Oscar Mayer Lunchables are cardboard boxes about the size of your average hardcover novel, that have various cold, pre-packaged lunch items. Kids generally go nuts for these things. Why? I am not sure.

I know that if my parents had given me the separated ingredients to assemble my own cold, cheese pizza at school for lunch, I would have been pretty pissed off. Yet, my kids beg for them. We pass them in the grocery store and they say their pleases and their waaahs and their I’m-not-leaving-until-you-get-me-somes.

At first, my logic held strong. I saw these things selling for around four bucks a piece and figured I could buy half a pound of any lunchmeat for the same amount. Having two sons, buying enough for a single day would equate to lunchmeat, bread, and carrots or chips for an entire week.

After a few times through this same routine, I broke down. The boys had been particularly helpful through the store that day. I told them they could each pick one and have it for their lunch one day during the coming week, which wound up being the next day, of course. Shortly after making this fateful decision, my brain’s logic was no longer heard and my butt started calling the shots.

“Hey, dis ain’t so bad,” it said.

My butt speaks with a sort of drawn out Brooklyn accent, and has a smoker’s cough. It used to sell knock-off Rolexes on the corner and once had an audition for the role of Silvio in The Sopranos (AND got a callback). The best way to describe its voice may be to compare it to Lucille Ball in her waning years.

Anyway, whenever my butt speaks to me, I can tell he means me no good, yet I cannot seem to resist.

So, my butt says to me, “I could get used to dis,” he says. “Dis time a’ night, instead a’ makin’ dem brats lunches, yous and me can sit on da couch and spend some…quality time.” Meanwhile, my brain, with its articulate and Oxford educated British accent (I’ll spare you any more printed dialect) tries to convince me otherwise. Deep down I know my brain is right, but my ass can be awfully charming.

This is how my descent began. I started letting them pick one each week as a treat, then it became having a few on hand just in case. Now, the boys pick several out each week and usually two out of five school days see them with a lunchtime of cold make-your-own pizzas or tiny discs of lunchmeat and crackers that took no effort to package.

This has called my attention to a very well defined market. Soon, I believe, you will have grocery stores establishing “lazy parent” sections. You’ll turn down this aisle and there will be the Lunchables, the individually packaged chips, and the jars of already combined peanut butter and jelly. Hell, maybe they’ll start selling pre-made lunches in brown paper bags to take that little sting of guilt away and make us feel like we made the lunch ourselves. The names can already be printed on the bags, too, so it’ll be like finding your child a souvenir keychain or coffee mug from a gift shop.

“Gee, he really doesn’t like liverwurst, but this is the only bag left with Bobby on it. I could get him a PB&J with Robert, but he hates when I call him that more than he hates liverwurst.”

The price of convenience is not to be sneezed at. I’m trying to think of some kind of product I can sell other parents in their moments of laziness. Then I think there’s an untapped service aspect to this. Maybe professional rides to school could replace car pools. Just pay me to drive the kids and you have no societal obligation to return the favor the following week. No car pool rotation schedule to keep track of.

Nah, then I’d have to wake up earlier. Forget it.

“Now yer tawkin’. Ain’t you got any pie in dis joint?”

Quiet, you!

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