Food for Thought
Snacks to soothe the savage, small beast
Boy, I’m getting old.
And crotchety.
I’m standing just inside the gate at the high school football stadium. I am frozen in place, halted by yet another barbaric rendition of the national anthem.
Several things are apparent.
One: That schools now trot out every kid who thinks he or she can sing, and they hand them a microphone. The lowest common denominator rules contemporary public education, in the classroom, and out.
Two: That they do this knowing that very few kids can sing. Even with the pop star trills and the slightly-off-key notes, and the need to shift to a lower octave on the “high parts,” there is a stunning absence of vocal talent among America’s youth. And an equally stunning lack of discrimination on the part of school officials.
Three: That this does not matter, since a whole lot of people have no appreciable standards. This is proven by the fact that the applause and hearty congrats that follow the aural slaughter are either a) cynical and frighteningly inauthentic or, b) well meant — i.e. a product of the “standing ovation” mentality that now greets any effort, at anything, by any young person, regardless of the pathos.
Four: That a song that should last, say, two minutes at the most, can be drawn out into a 10-minute production.
Five: That our kids are grossly unschooled, as evidenced by the fact that very few of them can correctly pronounce the word “perilous.”
It has become a ghastly exercise.
It leads me, as I stand there, frozen with hand over heart (if I have one) to wonder why we associate the national anthem with sporting events in the first place. What gives? Why would we take an anthem that should be attendant to only the most solemn of events, and punish it over and over again prior to the most mundane of occasions? Who came up with this idea? Who decided to dilute what should be a powerful and rarely heard song and have it end up a vehicle for adolescent squalling or, in more professional uses, the excuse for a glittery spectacle of cheesy celebrity?
Finally, the torture ends. Once the wild applause from the crowd dies down, it is time to move on.
I go over to talk to a friend — the high school principal.
As we chat, three young boys — say 8 or 10 years old — skid to a halt in front of the man. One of the kids begins to hit the principal in the midsection as hard as he can, shouting: “Come on, I wanna fight. Come on, fight me.”
The principal attempts to calm the frenzied little freak, but to little avail. Tiny fists continue to collide with the principal’s midsection as the annoying banshee wails and flails.
The churl finally departs. I notice he is not alone: there is a legion of the preteen clowns careening around, many of them shouting obscenities, nearly all of them out of control. Their parents stand, beaming with pride, at the periphery of the avenue into the stadium.
Dear lord, I think, we are in real trouble. We are neck deep in the “I have an Honor Student at Pinky Lee Junior High School” syndrome: No kids do wrong, all is permitted; don’t criticize my child, don’t judge my child and, most of all, don’t ask me to control the kid.
The day when a principal, or any other adult, could knock little Bobby rear deck over tea kettle if he got out of line, are gone. And the effect is too obvious.
To make matters worse, I end up at a restaurant a couple days later and the worst possible restaurant experience takes place.
There is an empty table next to the booth Kathy and I sit in. A table big enough for … a family.
A family with a couple young ’uns.
A couple out-of-control young ’uns.
Little Jimmy hurls his sippy cup at the waitress. Little Janey screams at the top of her lungs.
Mom and Dad?
They must be thinking about the day they’ll be able to slap their “I Have an Honor Student at Pinky Lee Junior High School” bumper sticker on the mini-van. Or the day little Janey gets to annihilate the national anthem at a basketball game.
Because they sure aren’t doing anything to rein in the little tyrants who dominate their existence. And that of anyone unfortunate enough to be close by.
Haven’t they heard of shock collars?
I start to run a high fever, and I have an idea as I watch the teensy cretins work their magic.
Chef Karl’s Kids’ Kitchen.
“Hey kids, want a snack? I’ve whipped up some D-Con brownies and a batch of antifreeze smoothies for you. Eat and drink to your hearts’ content.”
Ah, but then I realize, I am old and crotchety — feeble, lacking the energy and patience needed to put up with the young ’uns. I catch myself in the middle of a train of evil thoughts, and I quiet myself.
Be patient, Karl. Be patient. Remember back. Remember those dark days when you were raising children. Remember what a complete idiot you were. Why should anyone be any different?
True, some of these urchins who irritate me will, no doubt, be in charge of my catheter at the nursing home some day soon, but I need to be calm, accepting of all that life brings me.
It’s their blood sugar.
They need snacks. And not brownies made with D-Con.
Remember back? Remember stuffing any old thing down your daughters’ throats, just to shut them up?
It works.
And, there are some dandy and easy snacks to prepare for the teensers — none of them involving barbiturates.
And none of them, except for treat favored by the occasional oddball, are like the snacks I enjoyed. My particular favorite: a wedge of cold kibbeh, wolfed down around 4 p.m., sights set squarely on dinner at 6. Then, there was a huge hunk of a caraway-kissed German cheese my old man always had on hand. On occasion, life was enhanced by a cold lasagna sandwich, a thick square of pasta and cheeses bedded in Miracle Whip, carried mouthward between two slices of low-end white bread. If and when my mom, Louie, turned her hand to one of the few things she could cook well, my snack was a massive slab of her chocolate, sour cream cake (with a mass the equal of that of a dwarf star).
Nope, the sprites need something with enough fuel to get them through to dinner. Ideally, they need something earlier in the day to put them in a coma.
None of this fruit crap — frozen grapes and homemade leathers. Or the organic snacks that run about $40 per pound and taste like carob-flavored sawdust.
Our super-special little people need major league doses of carbohydrates — with little of the sugar their hyped-up, undisciplined little personalities crave.
I’m thinking a batch of those little hot dogs, with a hefty slice of cheddar. On a slice of ciabatta.
OK, maybe a graham cracker slathered with Nutella. If you absolutely must push some banana slices into the Nutella, go ahead. Just don’t tell me.
A small quesadilla — sure, if the rug rat can make it himself.
If worse comes to worst, a bowl of cereal.
The point: I’m old, crotchety and an unbearable grouch when it comes to kids. Fortunately I have only so many years, months, weeks, days, minutes, seconds left on the planet. The kids will be spared, and so will I.
In the meantime, the best way to deal with all of us, and our tantrums, is to feed us. Sedate us with chow.
I need to keep my blood sugar up and my ire down. Kids need snacks to temper their thoroughly obnoxious behavior.
Who knows, once they’re calmed, perhaps we can get to work on how to pronounce “perilous.”


Omie Lucille Smallwood Wall

Omie Lucille Smallwood Wall, age 93, passed away in Aztec, N.M., and rejoined her sweetheart husband on his birthday, Oct. 5, 2007. She was blessed to live in her own home until the end of her life when she was taken relatively quickly by a massive stroke.

 Lucille was born on March 25, 1914, in Hall County, Georgia, to William Harrison Clayton Smallwood and Mary Lee Omie Hyde Smallwood, the fourth of eight children. She was raised in a loving home and remained close to her siblings and parents throughout their lives.

 She was a tri-state spelling champion in grammar school in West Virginia and was the valedictorian of her eighth-grade class. She was a scholar of the Latin language and studied it four years. She was the salutatorian in her high school graduation class at the Martin Institute in Jefferson, Georgia. She studied journalism at the New Mexico State Teacher’s College (now known as New Mexico Western) in Silver City, New Mexico.

She loved to write and was blessed with a great command of language. She wrote novels, magazine articles and poetry and has been a published author several times in her life.

 She married her high school sweetheart, Crawford Lorenza Wall, on May 8, 1932, in Hall County, Georgia. They were married 72 years. They were sealed for time and all eternity in the Bountiful, Utah L.D.S. temple in 2005.

 She was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She served faithfully in many callings throughout her life and was instrumental in bringing the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to many others.

 She loved to teach and worked in the schools. She loved to paint, do complicated word puzzles and read. She had a spirit of adventure and discovery that took her all over the United States throughout her life. She had a vivacious personality. She was always concerned about other people. She had a life full of voluntary service to widows, senior citizens, children, church and family.

 She will be remembered as one who constantly recognized the Lord’s hand and was grateful for his help every day. She was a woman of great fortitude, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, love, endurance and strength.

 Although we will miss our beloved mother and grandmother until we see her again, we are grateful we had her so long and rejoice in the reunions she is now enjoying.

 Survived by son, William Crawford (Arizona) Wall of Aztec, New Mexico, grandchildren Mary Ann (Troy) Olsen of Kaysville, Utah, Martha (Ruben) Romero and Calvin Wall of Hotchkiss, Colorado, great-grandchildren Jesse Romero, Celeste and Danielle Olsen, Brandon, Casey and Brittany Thames and two great-great grandchildren.

 Preceded in death by her husband, parents, siblings James Arthur Smallwood, Hugh Buchanan Smallwood, Harrison Lee Smallwood, Dewey Turner Smallwood, Muriel Gladys Thompson and Mary Belle Cook McMillan.

Visitation was held Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Brewer Lee and Larkin Funeral Home, 103 East Ute in Farmington, and from 1-2 p.m. at the Pine River Cemetery in Bayfield, Colorado, on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

 Graveside services were Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Pine River Cemetery in Bayfield.