Trend-Less

Being a “trend forecaster” sounds like a great job. Mainly because you never have to be right. You’re forecasting not stating fact. This means nobody can call you out for getting anything wrong and if they do you just shrug your shoulders and cite unforeseen mitigating circumstances. Basically, you’re golden.

That said, even though being a trend forecasting sounds low stress I think I would be awful at it. Not only can I not predict a trend if my life depended on it, I have vehemently pooh-pooh emerging trends, as in “they’ll never last,” that have become cultural zeitgeist.

One of my biggest missed predictions were stainless steel appliances. Way back in 1998 I was redoing my kitchen and the guy at the Sear’s store (yes, this was so long ago Sears was THE place for your appliances) told me I should hop on the stainless-steel bandwagon.

 I scoffed at his suggestion, got on my high horse and proclaimed “stainless steel should only be in two places – morgues and hospitals.” I then went on to say that “the look would die a quick death and the only people dumb enough to buy stainless appliances were serial killers.” I also added that law enforcement should start some kind of database to track who buys stainless steel appliances and use it as tool to profile predators.

Well, well, well, lookie there it’s 2018 and stainless steel appliances are still all the rage. I feel like I need to find that nice Sear’s employee and write him an apology letter.

My other huge “OMG that’s never going to last” were yoga pants. When women started becoming obsessed with Lyrca leggings I was all about the deep diss. I compared them to the stirrup pants a lot of us wore in the 1980’s. Really, how could I not? They’re the same minus the stirrup. Elastic waistband – check. Lyrca infused material – check. Basically, tights disguised as pants so retailers can charge 10 times as much – check.

Never could I have imagined that yoga pants would not only take over the fashion world and become a di-riguer part of almost every woman’s wardrobe, but also launch entire retail chains like Lululemon.

Then there’s that freaking Elf on the Shelf. The Elf emerged on the scene when my children were very young. I was its target demographic – a mom who wanted to make Christmas perfect. Every mother I knew was enthralled with the Elf when it first hit the stores. At my children’s school I was the lone dissenter.

I openly mocked the mothers for falling for something that was 1) Creeptasic. 2) Took attention away from Santa Claus. I’m a purist. When it comes to the North Pole Santa is my main man and no elf should be sharing or hogging the spotlight and 3) Required a lot of daily effort plus you had to weave a tangled web of fibs, that in my opinion, the elf was unworthy of. (See point #2)

I was beyond certain that the Elf would be a tacky flash in the pan. So, yeah, I think we all know how that turned out. More than a decade later the Elf is going strong. It’s got a girlfriend, there’s a line of “couture” clothes for the Elf and it’s spawned board games and Elf pets.

Seriously could I be any more clueless about what people are going to like? Hmm, maybe that’s my talent being out of-touch or maybe, and I like this one a whole lot better, I’m just too cool to gauge what the masses will respond too. Yeah, let’s go with that. Definitely that’s what it is.

Globe of Gratitude Anyone?

il_570xN.288494957I know a lot has been written about the Elf on the Shelf. Pro and con, hate and love, who cares? What I want to do is, using the elf as my template, conjure up the next big toy/ parenting insanity combo.

I’ve done my research (I Googled) and hello, this elf thing is only ten years old! A decade is all it took for elf mania to sweep the country. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that a plastic elf is kicking Merry Old St. Nick to the curb. Yeah, that’s right Santa Claus, a multi-century old tradition of giving, is being usurped by an 4 inch toy with it’s own “Claus Couture” clothing line!

And not just usurped, but I fear brave readers that the shelf elf is on its way to becoming a religion. Okay, relax. I’ll concede (just so I don’t get ecclesiastical themed hate emails) that calling it a religion maybe overstating things, but for sure it has become a lifestyle choice and, as we all know, for many people that’s pretty much the same thing.

So let’s take this knowledge and get to work.

The good news, I, from my own experience of spending many, many, hours sitting in school drop off and pick up lanes, know that a lot of parents are idiots. I’m not just basing this on their lack of skill when it comes to following the proper rules and procedures for the whole kid exiting your car thing. I’m also using the visual inventory of what kids are wearing and holding as they disembark from their parent’s vehicles as another measurement of stupidity. Let’s be real here. When a six-year-old has a iPhone 6, a $100 backpack, and boots that cost twice that it doesn’t take a behavioral economist to ascertain that as parents we are not just stooges, but also highly susceptible to the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” peer pressure. In the history of mankind has there ever been a better time to market something ridiculous to moms and dads? I think not.

This means it’s go time for the next lame, yet exceedingly popular, holiday toy/cult. To achieve elf like success I’ve selected two areas of focus. One, it has to create a lot of work for the parents so complaining about the toy becomes almost a hobby. Second, and this is the big one, it has to be something that speaks to a certain breed of parents’ psychological need to compete via social media. I believe if the elf came out pre Internet it wouldn’t have had a chance. Yeah, maybe it would be a so, so holiday book, but it wouldn’t be out there kicking Claus kiester. This whole elf phenomena didn’t take off until parents began flocking to social media to show off what their elf was doing. It was then that he race was on. Not only are there cutesy, G rated elf photos, but now you can even find Elf on the Shelf porn which I believe is the universal sign of marketing success.

I have a few ideas, none of them great. The one I think has the most potential is the “Globe of Gratitude” nicknamed “GOG”. It would be a plush, stuffed, circular toy that looks like earth and starting on Thanksgiving parents would take out the globe and pass it to their children as they share what they’re thankful for. Then each night until the New Year parents hide the globe and when their kids find it every morning there’s a small present thanking them for being grateful. This could be big.  It checks off the areas of focus and them some!

Let’s break it down. It’s got the work thing covered. Imagine the hassle and expense of having to buy and wrap little presents for your kids from Thanksgiving to December 31. I can already see parents madly tweeting about being so “tired from all the Globe present shopping” (#globegifting, #gog, #gotgog?) and Pinterest pages popping up offering “quick and cute” globe gift ideas, cookie recipes and party themes. (Followed by Pottery Barn Kid’s debuting their Gratitude Globe sheet set and flannel duvet cover.) But hang on, that’s just the beginning of the social media onslaught.

You know how people LOVE to do humblebrag gratitude posts? Well, imagine all the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram competitive postings from parents sharing their kids’ precious and precocious  globe gratitudes every, single day! Forget about Kim Kardashian’s assets this would be the thing that would break the Internet.

Well, now I’ve just got myself really excited. Anyone ready to help me with this? I’ve got a $50 Southwest Airlines coupon. Toy Show here I (we) come!

Hey, Snarky friends please re-like my page on Facebook. I got hacked and had to start my page from scratch. Thanks! Click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog and let your friends know that Snarky is back.

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

 

Christmas Confessions of a Weary Mother

ae36562c66fad2ff246db4fd78613f0fIf you want to suck the air right out of room casually mention anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas that you find the holiday season less than magical. As people are gasping for oxygen, quickly add that this doesn’t mean you don’t totally embrace the religious significance of 12/25 (this will aid in getting folks breathing again). As they’re furiously inhaling use this time to further explain that you find conquering your Christmas To Do list about as much fun as smooshing your noncompliant ab flab into Spanx. As soon as you finish this sentence watch as people flee from you in fear that your anti holly, jolly, holiday spirit might be contagious.

This is because confessing that you consider Christmas a month of hard labor is number two on the Top 10 List of Things No Mother is Ever Allowed to Divulge. This is not to say; I don’t find moments of Christmas enchanting and life affirming. What I don’t find so captivating is the 21st Century pressure to create a perfect Christmas. Did my mother and her generation feel this compulsion? No. We need to look no further then the average Christmas in 1975. Using my family as an exemplar let’s survey the facts. There was one tree, one single room festooned in evergreen finery, some outside lights strung so haphazardly by my dad, that my mother informed the neighbors it was “avant garde.” The only Christmas craft I did was shove cloves into an orange to hang in my great aunt’s closet and the presents were purchased from Sears. Meanwhile, family bonding occurred when I helped my grandma make all the Christmas cookies, marveling at how she could chain smoke a pack of Virginia Slims and, yet, not get a single ash in the gingerbread dough.

Now, compare that to the current lunacy mothers have wrapped themselves up in. I’d like to blame social media for turning Christmas into a competition or at least creating a social class of holiday underachievers but first we need to look back further, pre Pinterest, and there you’ll find ground zero for Christmas crazy, Family Fun magazine. Yep, this is where it all started. The out-of-control crafting, artisanal winter parties for children featuring an albino Rudolph made from goat cheese, pre-macerated by the molars of Malta monks, with an heirloom sun-dried tomato nose. Add in decorating your fireplace mantel with snow that’s actually hand loomed, pet dander and you have the birth of holiday insanity.

The saving grace of all this nonsense (not that I don’t think a goat cheese Rudolph doesn’t sound delish) is that a decade ago mothers could still fib about their Christmas creations. As in, “Oh yeah, for sure, the kids and I are going to start harvesting pet dander this weekend.” Today, that won’t pass muster. Oh no, in 2014, everyone is living in the show me state. You just can’t say you did something you have to produce a pictorial with catchy sayings and enhanced graphics.

All any of this has done is create Tis the Season to Be One Upping. Case in point, I don’t know of a single person who just puts up one Christmas tree. We’re in the middle of a hard-core, tree-palooza. Go to anyone’s house and there’s a tree in the living room, another in the kitchen, a ski lodge inspired evergreen in the den and a personalized, themed tree for each child’s bedroom. (And to my friend with a tree in her downstairs half bath please note I’m considering staging an intervention.) I’m exhausted just thinking about all the decorating, never mind the backbreaking labor of taking it all down, packing it away and hauling the boxes to the basement.

And it’s not just the decorating. It’s the parties. Am I the only one who ponders the fact that genteel hospitality maybe dead? R.I.P. going to a holiday party where you’re only required to bring yourself (and a little something for you hosts). Now it’s cookie exchanges, gift card tree swaps, and the worst, the very worst, the office Secret Santa because that’s just what you need on your To Do list – buy presents for a co-worker whose name you have trouble remembering.

None of this even compares to the holiday time suck that is the Elf of the Shelf. Okay, folks, I don’t claim to have the best connection to the big guy surfing the celestial byways on the fluffiest of cumulus cloud BUT I’m thinking while He might be okay with sharing his birthday with Santa this whole shady shelf elf is a no–can-do.

Did you know the phrase Elf on the Shelf, when translated from the obscure, native, North Pole language of Ydnac Enac, means More Work for Mothers? How many times have weary, almost to the point of tears, moms finally laid down their heads to go to sleep and just as they’re about to float off to the land of blissful slumber they are jerked awake by remembering they didn’t move that freaking elf? And, oh no, you just can’t move the blasted thing, to say, the dining room. You have to create an elf tableau so impressive that your Instagram picture has the potential to go viral and get you on the Today Show.

The stress from maintaining a 30-day alternate hobgoblin holiday universe is manifesting into a new disorder called elfinsomnia. This ailment is currently linked to being responsible for two out of three maternal meltdowns in the Target checkout line during the month of December.

I swear to you, even with all my grousing, I still hear the bell. You know the one from The Polar Express where if you truly believe the bell still rings for you. Except, I’m afraid it’s the alarm on my cell phone telling me it’s time for my anti-anxiety meds. On a positive note, at least, they’re red and green.

Merry Christmas!

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

Dear Snarky – My Daughter is Being Excluded Because I Don’t Believe in the Elf on the Shelf

b9787fff692e72467ad4fb95e3a7078bDear Snarky,

 I’m hurt, upset and really angry. My 6-year-old daughter wasn’t invited to her best friend’s Christmas party because get this – I don’t believe in the Elf on the Shelf. That’s right, because I, as a mother, have chosen to not doing the Elf thing, my child gets to be excluded from a party because there are going to be elf crafts etc.

 Any suggestions how to control my anger would be appreciated.

 Signed, Elf Hater

Dear Elf Hater,

Someone help me out here. Has the Elf on the Shelf drop kicked Santa Claus to the curb? Because spoiler alert here Santa’s the one who brings you all those presents. That said, the good news is your 6-year-old will get over it. In fact, I’m sure she’s already over it.

As for your fury go ahead and wallow it, stomp your feet, have a glass or bottle of wine and get it out of your system. You have every right to be momentarily ticked off about the IQ level of a mother who would exclude her daughter’s best friend based on whether or not her family embraced the nightly theatrical production that is the Elf on the Shelf.

I know some moms are going to argue with me that the Elf Mom had every right to not invite the little girl who comes from a family of non elfers. Their main point will be that you wouldn’t invite a child to a Santa Claus party if the kid didn’t believe in Santa.

Yeah, let me just tell you that argument is beyond lame (and just for the record I would invite any and all kids to a Santa party). The Elf on the Shelf isn’t based on a centuries old tradition of giving. It’s from a 2005 children’s book. So, I think advantage me on this one. And more importantly, in the spirit of this amazing time of year why would an alleged grown woman go out of her way to exclude a child?

Take a tip from this seasoned mother – you can’t go wrong being nice especially not at Christmas. Now, let’s all bring it in for a group hug.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page (click on the FB icon located at the top right hand of blog).

P.S. You are going to have to re-like Snarky on FB since my site got hacked. Thanks!

The Elf On the Shelf Almost Ruined My Marriage

Picture 9It started out so innocently. I got the Elf for my daughter and I was kind of mad at myself for caving in to the mommy peer pressure to do the elf thing. But my poor kid was feeling left out at school because her first grade teacher (and damn her to hell for this) would start every morning (after the Pledge of Allegiance, of course because we’re good Americans) with the sharing of elf stories. She’d ask the kids what their elf was doing when they woke up? Had it been naughty or nice? Blah, blah.

That sealed it. I was forced to enter the elf world. I got a boy elf because I thought he was less creepy and not that this matters to me, at all, but don’t you think the girl elf, the original girl elf, looks a little butch? And what’s with the elf with the hillbilly blond hair? Is she on loan from the North Pole Hooters? C’mon Santa let’s get back to a G rated Christmas.

Any who, so there I was with the boy elf in the check out line at Target and I start getting a weird feeling like the elf is trying to communicate with me from the hermetically sealed package. I can’t even see him  because he’s inside a box which contains the propaganda material, sorry I mean elf story, but I’m not kidding when I tell you I got a dirty, little elf vibe. Like he was telling me I was hot.

Not that I would argue with him on that. I was looking good. I went to Target immediately after getting my hair highlighted and blown out and I was feeling fabuglam which is what all the cool PTA moms call themselves who hang out in the foyer of the elementary school and hold court. (Well, it’s really not a foyer but you know the inside front area of the school and what the hell on them treating the school like it’s their freaking home? I’m telling you every morning it’s like a long ass receiving line at a wedding.) Whatever on what I just told you, the important point is that I was, for sure, the most fabuglam woman in the #4 Target checkout aisle.

Once I get the elf in my car the flirty feeling doesn’t go away if anything it intensifies. I’m a little scared. Could I being having a stroke or something? Although, I don’t remember any of the signs of a stroke being the surreal experience that you’re being hit on by a plush toy still in a box.

So, I did what you would have done, I open that sucker up. I wanted to save it for my daughter to open but by God when you feel that level of arousal in your car and the seat warmers aren’t even on you have to do something. I ripped the box open and the elf winked at me. Yep, I was stroking out. Even though I checked my eyes in the rear view mirror and my pupils were evenly dilated for sure I was goner. Then I slapped myself in the face. I felt that. No facial paralysis. Did I get bad Diet Coke mix at McDonalds or something? Was their carbonation to syrup ratio so off that I’m having hallucinations?

As all of this is going through my head I start feeling a tingle in my jingle. The elf, who I had put in my lap while I checked my pupil dilation, was nuzzling my lady garland and Oh Holy Night it felt amazing. I immediately picked up the elf (and by immediately I mean about four minutes later) and threw him in the passenger seat.

By this time I’m shaking, in a good way, if you know what I mean and while I’m attempting to regain my composure (it’s not everyday I experience a great big ho, ho, ho in the parking lot of Target) I start thinking of plausible excuses for what’s going on. I quickly blame my husband.

We had being going through a bit of a dry spell in the romance arena. Totally not my fault, by the way. His stupid fantasy football teams were responsible for our craptastic love life. He had three. I told him he couldn’t handle three teams, but he ignored me. What with the trades, the drafts, the roster changes it became like a second job. Oh, and here’s the real killer he said it was stressing him out and causing him to have insomnia. “So, let me get this straight,” I asked the man/child my husband had become, “your make-believe, pretend, mythical football teams are causing you so much stress you can’t sleep? Do you think you’re mentally ill? Because that’s what it looks like to me or you’re the world’s biggest idiot which is also a real possibility.”

Putting all the responsibility for going to third base with a toy squarely on my husband’s shoulders made me feel better, much better. I then proceeded to pick my daughter up from school where she was delighted to get the elf which she quickly named Candy Cane. For the next couple of nights I did all the elf stuff you’re supposed to do. I moved him around from the kitchen to the family room, put him in the tree. You know the usual.

Then on night four I woke up and found Candy Cane in bed with me. Strange, because I had left him in the kitchen on top of the toaster. I was in bed all by myself because my husband had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs while watching ESPN – shocker, I know. Well, if I’m lying I’m dying, the elf began wooing me. This, my friends, is when I started my downward spiral of carnal elfing.

You’re judging me I can feel it. Please stop because there’s more to my story. That damn Elf on a Shelf broke my heart. He was one talented, brown-haired, blue-eyed, jerk! In answer to the question I know you’re dying to ask. The elf is junkless. What he does have is that erect red stocking hat. It may not be big, but it’s got some mad skills.

I took Candy Cane everywhere with me. We were inseparable. I even, like a lot of moms, became a little obsessed with taking “Elfy Shelfies.” Pictures of my handsome little man doing naughty and nice things. But then a mere week later I began to think that Candy Cane was cheating on me.

I would come home from work or running errands and I would find him hanging out at Barbie’s Dream House. One time I caught Candy Cane and Mermaid Barbie riding the wave of desire. Which really confused me. Isn’t the whole mermaid fish tail, pretty much, an aquatic chastity belt? And you do not want to know what I found him doing in the Disney Princess Little People Palace with the Polly Pocket dolls. The final straw was when he crossed over the species line to get his giddy up on with the My Little Ponies. Who knew Rainbow Dash was such a tramp.

“Enough!” I told Candy Cane. I was kicking him out of the house. He fought me but I sealed him in a Ziploc Freezer bag (the limited edition holiday themed bags because I’m not a monster) and dumped him off at Goodwill. My daughter wasn’t upset at all. Over stupidly expensive hot chocolate at Starbucks she confessed that the Elf wasn’t as much fun as she thought he would be. “You know,” she sighed, “it seems like the moms are a lot more into those elves than us kids. They talk about them all the time and take a bunch of pictures.”

What could I do except nod my head, cross my legs and say “Yeah, you’re right. It sure does.”

Liberate yourself from that freaking elf and give yourself the gift of Snarky.  Yes, my precious holiday hobgoblin  just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

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