When Dylan woke up yesterday morning he had a bright red rash on his cheeks and chin. He had started a medication for thrush two days before, and I was worried that he was having an allergic reaction. I paged his pediatrician and described the situation for her. She was certain that it wasn’t an allergic reaction–apparently that would have likely happened sooner and covered more of his body–so she wasn’t too concerned. He wasn’t bothered by the rash, so there wasn’t an issue there, either. She then told me to keep an eye on it and to call her if it got worse. Then she told me to go get a hydrocortisone cream to apply to it. Huh? So, you want me to watch the rash to make sure it doesn’t get worse while I’m superficially suppressing the inflammation with a steroid cream? Also, just to be clear, you want me to apply this steroid cream to my infant even though the only problem seems to be that it mars his appearance a bit? Oh, okay. That makes perfect sense. I’ll get right on that.
After I got off the phone with the pediatrician, we headed out to buy luggage for an upcoming trip. Our first stop was a strip mall, where there was a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes research. Guess what the fundraisers were selling to raise money for juvenile diabetes research? Cake. I would love to buy a piece of cake to support a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the US largely because we eat way too much sugar. That sounds great! It would be even better if the cake was the kind of flavorless, sugar-laden, artificially-colored specimen you get from a cheapo grocery store bakery. That would be excellent! I think Brian summed it up best when he said, “What? Are they trying to promote diabetes?”.
We then decided to go to Costco. We thought they might have deals on luggage, and we figured if they carried grass-fed beef or wild salmon then it might be worth it to buy a membership. We should have just turned around and left when we saw the streams of people walking zombie-like out of the store, pushing their supersize carts full of supersize crap. We were reminded of the people in the movie “Wall-E” who float along in their motorized little pods, constantly consuming, oblivious to their surroundings. I felt very naive once we made our way past the jewelry, electronics, and lawnmowers and started checking out the food. Why did I ever think Costco would have grass-fed beef or wild salmon? We walked around a bit, in awe of enormous packages of everything, disturbed by the fact that it is possible to buy mangos, vacuum cleaners, and jeans all in the same place, and then we left. Walking out of there empty-handed felt like the greatest escape. Like, we went to the mecca of over-consumption and didn’t consume anything. Yesss! I just don’t understand how Costco manages to trick people into thinking they are saving money when really they are just buying a bunch of stuff they don’t really need.
The whole experience of our day was sort of jarring, a reminder that we are living a very different life than most Americans, probably different even from a lot of our friends, and that we can be horrified and confused all we want but that doesn’t help anyone. We can complain that everyone else is lazy and uninformed, but unless we are actively trying to motivate, inform, and set a good example of what conscientious, engaged living looks like in a world that is more focused on what is easy than what is healthy or smart, then we are just like those people who were selling cake to support diabetes research. Only worse, because we know better.