Category Archives: Rampant Idealism

Men and Women

I decided to spend some time talking about what I think is a very important problem in the world today. I’m sure a lot of people think this means more Laser Tag, evil alien overlords, or the decline of fondue. Don’t get me wrong-these are all ALL important, but the topic of the day (or, as they would say in France, “a la mode”), involves women who hate men because they are slobs. I know this sounds like ninety percent of the topics from the Jerry Springer talk show, but I would like to assure everyone that this letter will be done in a tasteful manner without any chair throwing or extensive segments bleeped out by the network censors.

Since there is a possibility this letter may be read by both genders, I really don’t have any choice to start out by saying that, yes, men are slobs. The degree to which any given man is a slob varies, but I think we can all agree that inside every man is a slob trying to express himself. I’d like to dedicate this to all the women out there. Maybe you can’t mold your man into Tom Cruise, Fabio, or John Ritter, but reading this might make you feel less likely to impale your significant other with a steak knife the next time you have to pick up his dirty underwear from the bathroom floor for the sixth day in a row.

Men often have difficulty operating a vacuum cleaner. At first you might suspect that much like household dogs, men are afraid of the strange noises produced while vacuuming. While it seems like a good theory, it doesn’t explain why men evade this chore by hanging out in their work shops all Saturday afternoon with various electric saws, drills, and sanders. A recent study reported that when asked to vacuum a carpeted area, over sixty percent of the men offered instead to spend the next three weekends installing hardwood floors.

So why are men so resistant to the vacuum cleaner? If they are anything like me, they feel tremendous guilt for never returning my girlfriend’s vacuum after we broke up. Now I can’t stop thinking of her every time I want clean carpets in my apartment. While I very rarely claim to be a licensed psychiatrist, I have come to realize the mental bond I have established between my ex and her vacuum. Symbolically, I keep her locked up in the closet-punishment for not wanting to frequent Taco Bell and the local video arcade on a regular basis.

And now a note to all the men who are reading this. I’m sure that some of you out there are married or have a girlfriend who on occasion does more than her fair share of the house work. Please keep in mind that their love for you is similar to those tablets you drop in the toilet bowl tank to make the water turn blue. You may think they are going to last forever, but every time you flush the toilet a little bit of her love goes down the drain. One day you will wake up, stumble to the bathroom, and realize the blue in the toilet bowl is gone.

My point here is that you can always go and buy more love in the detergent isle of your local grocery store. Wait, that doesn’t quite sound right. How about this: if you take a little time and plan ahead, you can keep everything in your bathroom and relationship running smoothly. Contrary to popular belief, helping clean up the dishes after a meal will not kill you. The odds of throwing out your back while putting dirty clothes into the hamper are quite small. A note to all the men reading this-please do not read this last analogy and assume the sum of your household responsibility is to drop the Tidy Bowl tablets into the toilet bowl tank. It is quite possible that your significant other will require more than that from you. For example, you might also have to be responsible for going to the store and buying the tablets.

With the possible exception of my mother, I’ll be one of the first people to admit I’m currently an unmotivated bachelor who enjoys the irony of watching ESPN while eating potato chips and repressing any fleeting thoughts about cleaning up my surroundings. Does this make me a bad person? Of course not. Is loving Taco Bell a crime? I really hope that isn’t the case. My point here is that while men are far from perfect, we are the only game in town. That is, of course until the day that scientists perfect animatronic male robots that don’t leave their underwear on the floor.

Do Pennies Make Our Lives Better?

Until last week I considered myself neutral on the entire penny issue. A recently published report sponsored by Americans for Common Cents (a pro-penny group backed by zinc companies) documents the effects if the Federal government were to take pennies out of circulation. Some of these negative consequences includes an effective 600 million dollar “rounding tax”, erosion of consumer confidence, and increase in the national deficit.

I believe this report should be viewed with extreme skepticism. Aside from the copper coating, pennies consist of 98% zinc. I will admit upfront that I have no previous experience with the zinc industry or how it operates, but I think it is reasonable to believe they make a fair number of dollars producing all those pretty pennies for the US Treasury Department. Every time a penny is lost down between the couch cushions, dropped down a wishing well, or carefully placed in the path of an oncoming locomotive, the zinc industry is there to help produce a brand new one. That doesn’t even include pennies that just get worn out by getting jiggled around in pockets and purses on a daily basis. If pennies were to be taken out of circulation, I don’t think the zinc industry would be very happy.

After reading about how important the zinc industry thinks pennies are to the survival of this country, I started thinking about how pennies fit into my life. Every night I take the change out of my pockets and put it into a jar that sits on my nightstand. Once the jar gets filled up I take it to my bank and put the money into my checking account. The jar goes home and the whole process starts again. If I lived in a world without pennies, I think it would take a little longer to fill up the jar, but the process itself would remain unchanged.

I thought about this long and hard, and I have been unable to envision how pennies make my life any easier. Parking meters and vending machines don’t like pennies. Parking meters swallow my pennies, but don’t allow me to leave my car parked any longer. I guess it’s not worth their time to give them back. Vending machines generally spit the pennies out into the coin return slot. I suppose I would not be too happy if I was waiting behind someone who needed to insert 125 coins before the king-sized Snickers bar dropped out of the machine.

Can our great nation survive without pennies? How can we fairly conduct commerce without the proper tools to pay the exact goods and services? The answer is that we do it all the time without even realizing it. Do you ever stop at a gas station and worry about how you are going to pay for gasoline that costs $1.59 and 9/10ths of a penny per gallon? Do you ever wonder how the gas station can charge 9/10ths of a penny for a gallon of gasoline? Of course not– the gas station just rounds it to the nearest penny when they calculate the total price. Sure, they could set the price at $1.60, but then it doesn’t seem like quite as much of a bargain.

Pennies used to be produced entirely of copper, but in the 1980’s the composition was changed when the cost of producing a penny out of copper exceeded the value of the coin itself. According to Americans for Common Cents, it costs taxpayers 0.72 cents to produce a penny. What are we going to do when, as it did once before, pennies are too expensive to produce? How about pennies with holes in the middle? Or better yet, we could get rid of the metal all together and declare that any scrap of paper with the hand written phrase “This piece of paper is worth one cent” is legal tender up to four cents. At least that way we could all sleep easier knowing that we don’t have to pay 600 million dollars in these so-called rounding taxes.

A sign that pennies aren’t valued in our society anymore can be seen in those little trays near the cash registers of most gas stations. A lot of people believe it’s easier to give pennies to a total stranger than slide them back into a purse or pocket. Do people leave their pennies in the tray because they believe in karma, or is it easier than having the coins stick around in their pockets until laundry day? Personally, I think it’s a little from column A and a little from column B. Either way, it doesn’t speak well for the value of a penny.

In all honesty, I don’t know which course of action is the best for our nation. I’m sure that either way the sun will still rise each morning, another wildly successful boy band will rocket out from total obscurity, and people will find something else to annoy them in their every day lives. Perhaps somewhere down the road I’ll write another article that starts “What’s the deal with nickels? Why are they larger than dimes? Do they REALLY make our lives any easier….”