May 20, 2010

Department of Jessica Seinfeld

Dear New Yorker,

If you're going to start publishing Shouts & Murmurs pieces that are irritatingly similar to the submissions I send you, that's fine. I get it. Ideas for Shouts & Murmurs pieces are probably more finite than you'd like anyone to believe. But Jesus, if you really have to do it, at least pick something that's significantly better than what I sent you.

Respectfully yrs,

A. Ladd
It's The Only One We've Got

In today's atmosphere of economic uncertainty and corporate belt-tightening, parents are increasingly facing the prospect of their twenty-something children moving home. If you’re one of these parents, you may be dreading your child’s imminent return, but in fact, you needn’t worry: if current trends continue, your situation will soon be the rule rather than the exception — and in the meantime, you can take a healthy dose of solace in the fact that the squalid leech in your basement is a badge of eco-friendliness that will make you the envy of all your friends!

To begin with, the majority of your son or daughter’s growing demographic don’t own cars — they walk, bike, take the bus, or, indeed, simply forgo leaving the house entirely for days on end. After all, why commute to some stolid, old-fashioned job when your blog about bison meat is on the verge of going mainstream? Even your Prius carpool can’t hope to achieve so tiny a carbon footprint!

But that’s not all! Those “eccentric” kitchen habits they picked up at college could come directly from a Good Housekeeping guide to water conservation: your child and their peers eschew crockery and silverware in favour of whatever container the food was in to begin with; and if something has no container, then they just eat it over the sink! Sure, perhaps it’s a little unsightly to watch someone trickle orange juice down their bathrobe as they slurp it from the carton each morning (or, more commonly, afternoon) — but each glass not washed by hand can save up to a gallon of hot water. By some estimates, the average person will conserve forty gallons of water a day if they can just avoid doing dishes, and that means your bottom-dwelling progeny could be saving you tens of thousands of gallons per year. That's the sort of result that will make your fellow book club members green with envy — though still not as green as you!)

Speaking of conserving water, that pungent fragrance emanating from behind so many bedroom doors is not just from marijuana: it stems from your child’s personal hygiene habits, which are a perfect model of energy efficiency. For them, showers can be postponed for whole days and weeks, or even, during particularly spirited bouts of Beatles Rock Band, indefinitely. And those dreadlocks on which they laboured for so long? The ones that make you wonder if your neighbors can produce any expression but a sneer? Well, they can’t be washed more than once a month! Imagine the reduction in shampooing time!

Don’t forget their approach to laundry, either. For the typical malingering dropout, the system works like this: if you can sniff the armpit of a t-shirt without recoiling in nausea, then it’s okay to wear again; if you can turn your underwear inside out without too egregiously soiling the insides of your jeans, by all means do so. Simple tricks like these can cut two or three laundry days out of every month, which is another 130 gallons of water, roughly, that can be used elsewhere — to say nothing of the electricity not being used by your dryer. And clothes last longer when washed infrequently, so the I Brake For Blowjobs t-shirt you find so urbane will continue to appear at the dinner table for many more years to come. No more driving the kids to T.J. Maxx for you!

Ultimately, while you might be tempted to complain about the constant bass thumping through the walls of your home, or the Family Guy episodes perpetually cluttering up the Tivo, you should always remember three important facts. One: what’s good for the environment is good for you. Two: once a baby is on its way they’ll have no choice but to find a place of their own (and that won’t be long, if the weekly Saturday night noises from their bedroom are anything to go by). And, three: at least that beanbag they found on the street last week matches the carpeting.

Your planet thanks you!


Claire said...

Bastards. Going for the obvious metaphor like that. Though I must say I liked
"Does she have Internet access? Yes / No
Does she have her Moleskine and/or sketch pad? Yes / No
Does she have her bottle? Yes / No"

(PS. typo in paragraph 5)

Andrew said...

Hey, like I said -- I appreciate that it's not the most original idea in the world. I just find it irritating that if they're going to publish a bit like this, they publish someone else's. Simon Rich already has a book deal, FFS. Quit hogging the success!

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