New trends leading to conformity, changing view of “fun”

Monday, August 25, 2008 | 11:41 a.m. CDT

I've never considered myself a cake-and-ice-cream kind of person. I rarely attend events like birthday parties or wedding receptions where these food items would be on the bill of fare. I'm more a wine-and-cheese type, preferably served with finger foods containing a lot of protein.

With the trend toward healthy habits, some of my acquaintances feel good about the fact that they no longer engage in cocktail hours. They have adopted the popular attitude that most people who drink alcohol these days are alcoholics or are likely to become one if offered liquor. Since that has not been my experience and I have personally known very few people with that problem, I don't share the opinion.

I am aware, of course, that people have all kinds of addictions.

People who are addicted to some caffeinated cold drinks are always surprised when I tell them that I can't tell one kind of cola from the other kind. Some coffee lovers cannot consume their favorite drink unless they grind their own beans. I guess when it comes to food addictions, you could call me a protein addict. And that means I have to count myself as a member of one more minority group among those I know socially.

Lately, I seem to be constantly avoiding invitations to dessert-fests. It seems to me that these have replaced potluck suppers. Almost every occasion I attend where food is served, the tables laden with pies, cakes, cookies and assorted desserts take up most of the space. For someone like me, who probably eats one piece of chocolate a month, I tend to feel overwhelmed.

Since I'm not a dietician, I don't know how much sugar or carbohydrates are good for a person, but I know the calories add up pretty fast because many of my associates are constantly going on weird diets. And I know that some individuals are very judgmental on the subject of other people's addictions and feel that unlike alcohol, drugs and nicotine, the addiction to sugar is somehow superior to the others.

As a small person, I make it a point not to discuss other people's weight problems. But I know a number of people who consider our national tendency to be overweight a laughing matter. I'm sure that people who have had to pay for two seats on airplanes because of their size fail to see the humor involved. I imagine those who are treated with the kind of hostilities experienced by a lot of smokers know what feeling discriminated against is like.

Certainly, parents who allow their children to over-consume ought to be concerned with health issues related to poor eating habits.

The world is not a kind place for people who look different, weigh too much or too little, drink too much, smoke or use drugs. Believe it or not, I have been turned down when seeking employment because I was too small and have been charged more for insurance because I was underweight.

Even in the current environment where so many people seem to be too good to be true, I have to accept the fact that I'm never going to be a cake-and-ice-cream kind of person. These are women who were always room mothers when their children were in school. As grandmothers they spend as many waking moments as possible with their grandchildren, show decks of childrens photographs to anyone who will look, would never go into a casino and play the slots, and love shopping at a mall. These women only befriend people who look and act like them and would never date a man of a different race or religion.

Fortunately, my close friends would not be my close friends if I became a trend follower. I like daring to risk being myself and believing that I have nothing to lose by doing so. I am addicted to diversity. The last place I would want to be is in a discussion where everyone present thought like me. This is probably why I would like to see an independent political party. I can't imagine holding a conversation with a bunch of Democrats or Republicans who have the same "talking points." I have no problem saying that a conversation with myself would be far more interesting because I can always see the opposite side of my viewpoints.

Of course, there are virtues that I admire in women who want to mother the world. I can appreciate their commitment and dedication to the people they serve. They obviously have a quality that I lack: absolute devotion to those they love, right or wrong.

In any case, I suppose if I am going to be socially acceptable at the tables of my acquaintances, I am going to have to learn how to "pig out" on sweet stuff. With any luck at all this trend will end as fast as it began. People will find something else "healthy" to do to have good, clean fun. Maybe, we can take dancing lessons. Then we would only have to worry about where we would dance after we learned.

I can almost remember when having fun wasn't this complicated. I guess that was before television began to teach us how we are supposed to live. Maybe, we could just forget about fun and concentrate on looking for common sense. Now, there's an idea in search of a home.

Will it find one?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at



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