May 14, 2009


Posted in Darth Vaguer, Past, Project: Fail, The Who, The Why at 8:23 am by Dagny Taggart

On a farm in Poland, life is pretty simple.  Hard, but simple.  You do what you’re told – or, more to the point, you do what needs doing – or you go hungry.  If a job is available, you take it.  If food is on the table, you eat it. 

On a farm in France, it’s pretty much the same.  Especially in the 1940’s.

Even in the United States, in the 1950’s, life isn’t very complicated – not if you’re a new immigrant trying to get a foothold in a medium-sized city.  The same rules apply, mostly.  You work the jobs that you can, save as much as you can, pay for the food you get from the corner grocers and local bakeries, and are grateful for getting to choose something, once or twice a week.  The basics pretty much stay the same, so long as the corner grocer and bakery and church are all still open and there for you when you want them.

So when you’re older, charged with making sure your grandchildren have snacks for the week, given directions to the store and a budget for groceries, things are new and confusing.  You start looking for the bread you get at the bakery, but it’s not there.  In its place, there are a million different brightly colored bags of bread, different brands and textures and all kinds of signs, and how do you know which are the good breads, and which are the bad?  There’s no person there to help you, no one to give you any guidance beyond what you knew before, so you pick up a loaf, squeeze it gently, and put it back.  Then you pick up the next, squeeze it gently, and put it back – moving over each choice, attempting to compare, attempting to see which is best, attempting to quiet the two granddaughters who are telling you that it doesn’t matter, attempting to see which loaf will be the best food for them.

Of course it matters, you say.  There must be a reason for all of these choices – there must be one that’s the best.



  1. Velvet said,

    I really thought you would have a Housewives of the Jerz recap over here, but this was a much better post. I wonder what my grandparents went through coming here, and never leaving their neighborhood because it was too scary. I can’t imagine that life. Though I got a glimpse of it by reading The Jungle.

  2. Hammer said,

    The gas pump says that foodstuffs are like fuel, and anything more than three options is excessive. The gas pump also says that despite this outburst of clarity, you should still clean your windshield more often.

  3. Velvet: Well, I’m holding off the recaps until (a) I can think up better nicknames for each of our doyennes, and (b) they give me an episode that’s a little more meaty than just fleshing out the introductions of our cast members.

    I’m sure one could write an interesting comparison/contrast between my grandmother and a woman whose house has nothing but “granite, marble, and onyx.” Fer serious.

    Hammer: Hunh. I would have thought that the gas pump would have considered diesel to be a valid option as well, but far be it from me to tell the gas pump how to do its job. Also, the gas pump is probably right.

  4. Hammer said,

    There is no diesel option on that particular gas pump, so I doubt it ever came to mind. Although the gas pump is wise, it can be a little self-absorbed sometimes.

  5. miss. chief said,

    i’ve thought about things like this before. coming from a more basic lifestyle into…this.
    imagine explaining our culture to a person from a tribe in papua new guinea. explain the purpose of the internet or why we need all this money and loans and education.
    it doesn’t make any sense.

  6. Hammer: Well, as the author of a blog, I’m hardly in a position to criticize a little self-absorption. (See how I made that answer all about me?) 😉

    miss. chief: I’ve had friends visit from other Western countries, and they still experienced some “choice paralysis”. We are a unique culture, in that respect.

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