Sunday, February 11, 2001

Blue ribbon whiners

        Time to wind down another Cincinnati Whine Festival.

        We received hundreds of whines, grumps, groans and assorted complaints from readers who entered our whine contest. The first-place winner in our third annual contest will receive a bottle of fine vintage wine. We had second- and third-place ties; each of them will get a bottle of wine, too. Their winning entries are printed on this page and on Page F4. All winners also receive a full-color Whine Festival logo suitable for framing. Thanks to all those who entered.

[photo] Winning Whiner Jan McManus
(Brandi Stafford photo)
| ZOOM |

First Place: Jan McManus, Springfield Township

        The "perfect' woman

        Whine? Don't mind if I do, even though women aren't supposed to be negative.

        My gripe: Women's magazines, along with the Enquirer's Tempo section, in their portrayal of a perfect woman's life. If we did everything we are supposed to do, as the magazines/newspapers/media life forms say, our schedule would look like this:

        3 a.m. — Get up, meditate, do yoga.

        4 a.m. — Cook dinner with organic vegetables grown in your garden.

        5 a.m. — Shower, dress in a way that shows your authentic flair and reflects 50 percent off regular price since no true woman would ever pay full price and confess it.

        5:30 a.m. — Make a wholesome breakfast for your family; while omelets are puffing up, write three quick notes to friends just to stay in touch.

        6 a.m. — Serve breakfast to smiling, cheery family.

        6:30 a.m. — After cleaning up, know exactly where everyone left everything they need for the upcoming day, because your home and closets and drawers are perfectly organized and you have a comprehensive calendar that is up to date with all projects, homework assignments, meetings and school bake sale information.

        7 a.m. — See family off on the school bus. Everyone remembers their lunches that you so lovingly packed with good nutritious food and pure fruit juice. Yummy.

        7:15 a.m. — Leave for work. Arrive at work to find everything ready, set, and perfect for a productive day of no surprises and no one waiting to waylay you.

        Noon — Skip lunch in favor of a brisk walk or noon-time jog. Your workplace has no shower facilities, but that doesn't matter because you do not sweat, no matter what the circumstances. You are always in control.

        4:30 p.m. — Leave work and go to homeless shelter/foodbank/tutoring center to give volunteer time feeding and teaching the disenfranchised. Your children do not need you at home because they, like you, are perfect. They have already done their homework, completed light housework, set the table, and sorted the mail all without being told. They will not get into mischief nor will they do anything they are supposed to avoid because they listen to you all the time. In addition, they are 125 IQ and do not need your help.

        6 p.m. — Arrive home to find everything in order. Feed everyone quality meals. Spend quality time with your children. Spouse calls to inform he will be late, but you are beyond jealousy, pettiness, and frustration doesn't even dent you. You understand he has a life of his own to fulfill.

        6:30 p.m. — Start home repair project of stripping flooring and laying your Pergo. You know how to do these tasks.

        8 p.m. — Kiss kids goodnight, kiss husband hello.

        8:30 p.m. — Spend quality time with your husband. Be wearing sexy underwear and slinky clothing to tell him he is number one priority in your life.

        9:30 p.m. — Be sure to converse with God in at least two different languages - English for yourself and Latin to call to mind the ancients who went before us. God speaks directly to you. Answers are at your fingertips. Write these revelations down in your notebook so you can publish your third book.

        10:30 p.m. — House is quiet. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea. Read that 1,500-page novel you are going to discuss when your book club meets next week. Highlight parts that reflect social implications that you are researching for when you give the social justice keynote address at church next weekend.

        11:30 p.m. — Go to bed in your satin sheets and shimmery nightgown that you bought at Victoria's Secret - at half off, of course.

        All magazine and feature writers should be required to give their marital status, age, dress size, and the degree to which they live and lead perfect lives in addition to their bylines. The rest of us who succumb and read their idealizations also want their home addresses so we can point, watch and laugh.

Second Place (Tie): Kathy Helmbock, Oakley

        Idiot weather people

        I nominate the “idiot mitten” syndrome. That's my name for the way local TV writers feel called upon to tell us what to do for every weather extreme. You would think we were slow-witted children instead of the competent adults they tell their advertisers we are.

        “Dress warmly/stay indoors,” or “drink lots of fluids/don't get overheated,” they tell us.

        Last weekend, a station told us about the postage increase and prescribed “add a one-cent stamp to your current ones or buy new Statue of Liberty stamps.” Well, duh! If they are that hard up for copy, I suggest they lengthen what substantive news they do have at 11 before the 20-minute sports scores/weather repeats. If all else fails, they could crib copy from the local print media. There's plenty there that TV barely touches.

Second Place (Tie): Wayne Beckwith, Loveland

        If it isn't you, then who is it?

        Last summer I gave in to middle-age yearnings, got a little impractical and purchased a brand new convertible.

        Living in Loveland, I take Spooky Hollow Road to work.

        It begins in a beautifully curved manner, winding through old forestland and soon opens up on a small plateau with farmland on either side. While riding to work one day, I could not help but notice the amount of litter on the side of the road. Who, I questioned, were the kinds of people who would do such a thing?

        That got me thinking about all the many acts of selfishness that pervade our society today. There is missing today a degree of grace and humility that distinguished us as a people not too long ago. It can be seen in everyday acts as well as the way professional athletes behave. We grow weary of it, yet who is guilty? Is it always the other person and never ourselves? How can that be? If it were always the other person then it would never happen, would it?

        Here is a little checklist of those everyday acts. If it isn't you, then who is it?

        1. Those who toss trash out of their car and those who don't.

        2. Those who use the directional signal in their cars. Those who don't.

        3. Those who return the grocery cart to the corral and those who don't.

        4. Those who talk in movie theaters. Those who don't.

        5. Those who talk loudly on their cell phones in public. Those who don't.

        6. Those who check to see who is behind them before they move back their airplane seat. Those who simply move them back.

        7. Those who write thank you notes. Those who don't.

        8. Those who RSVP. Those who don't.

        9. Those who clean up after themselves in a self-served restaurant. Those who don't.

        10. Those who turn right on red, even though they cut off the oncoming car. Those who wait their turn.

        There are obviously more examples of rude, selfish behavior; I'm sure everyone has a favorite. The fact of the matter is that we do not live alone on the planet but share it with billions of other people. There is not some guy following you down the road to pick up your litter.

        It doesn't take a lot of effort, but once in a while, think of how your actions impact others. If you were the only one, that would be one thing, but here, I'm here, too.

Second Place (Tie): Eric Mickelsen, Owensville

        Lingerie ads lead to impure thoughts

        On a gorgeous sunny morning, I was reading a Sunday paper's front-page article about President Clinton, which was continued on A6. When I turned there, I was greeted by a half-dozen women in their underwear. How can any moral person remain mentally pure and still read his newspaper? Zit-faced pre-teen guys, when bored, ogle these near-pornographic ads and point them out to their buds.

        Reading the Enquirer is like going to a PG-rated movie. The first half of the movie is great. There is drama and suspense, very well directed. Then out of nowhere, the movie stops as the leading actor is in mid-sentence and the screen shows that the second half of the movie will be rated R. Then, half-naked women appear gallivanting around the scene, preventing the real actors from continuing. I don't remember this in the previews. The rest of the Enquirer is an enjoyable experience.

Third Place (Tie): Bob McElfresh, Pierce Township

        Big-knuckle syndrome

        The government isn't doing enough to help people like me. I have an affliction that begs for medical research dollars. My fingers have gaps because my knuckles are larger than the flesh and bone between the knuckles. This results in squirting water all over the place, from between my fingers, when I squeeze a cleaning sponge too strongly.

        The problems of wiping up the bathroom mirror, kitchen walls and freshly rinsed car are almost too great to bear. I'm a victim, and I want relief. The Democrats would find federal money to help me and my brethren. But, I don't want too many to apply for relief from this deformity, there might not be enough left for me.

Third Place (Tie): Charles Schoultheis, Cold Spring

        Don't clutter ads with comics

        How come every Sunday when I look for the Furniture Fair ad, I have to look through the comics section first? Can't we just get rid of those Sunday comics, so I can find the Furniture Fair ad easier?


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