The Middle… Back In the Cave, We Spit In Our Mascara

Ok, so maybe I’m not that old; I didn’t actually exist in cave days… but nearly. The mascara part, that’s true. It’s not the only thing we did differently. A whole bunch of things have changed since I rode my horse and buggy to school each day… fifteen miles from my log cabin… on the prairie.

Don't mess with your mascara girls... pink eye is yucky. Image:

Don’t mess with your mascara girls… pink eye is yucky.

It seems so inconceivably icky now, but way back in the day, before we had any of the brilliant hygiene technology that we now have, girls spit in their mascara to thin it out and make it last a little longer. I’d really like to believe I never did that, myself, but I think I did once. I think that a whole lot of us did. Personally, I preferred to put a little tap water in there (both approaches are bad!) shook it and managed to save about… Oh, $.07, which somehow, back on the prairie, in the cave, meant something. I can tell you, when Kraft Mac and Cheese was my splurge dinner, stretching the mascara was no joke folks.

Because we were a generation running around spreading disease and germs, every where we went, we also tried on make-up at cosmetic counters, without using ten q-tips, or wooden sticks to apply it. We tried on a pair of shoes without using an array of skin barriers. We didn’t shave and wax ourselves back down to eleven year old girl status, and our underwear were not made of floss. Yeah, we were unhygienic, ugly underwear wearing, badass hairy chicks… and I miss it.

How it looks around the cave. Image:

How it looks around the cave.

When we were teenagers, we ventured out of our caves to play. We didn’t play video games for hours and hours. It didn’t define our time with our friends and our time alone. This past weekend, Little Man had a group of friends over for the evening. They often move to the video games, but not this time. After having latkes and pizza, and playing hide and seek in our darkened house (I was a good egg and read in my room), they ran out of steam. You guys should go play Fugitive, I suggested. Blank faces all around. It’s essentially a giant game of tag: two teams, a mission to get from point A to point B without being caught, outside in the dark, I explained. I told them that they had to be respectful of neighbors, stay together and be safe, and then I sent them off. They were giddy. They were over the moon. They were going out into the cold, crisp night to have an adventure. I’ll say it again, these are unusually good kids. They don’t break rules, and this was as risky as they get. I was thrilled for them. They were gone an hour and a half; they came back and all of them were sputtering with excitement. They’d gone the mile and half from my house to the town green. They’d fallen; they’d gotten lost (“hiding behind bushes in the dark is so scary!”); they’d laughed a lot; and they all came home safely and filled with excitement. It was late however, and they immediately piled in my car and another, to get home by their deadlines. As we drove down my street, two police cars cruised past (a very rare site in this neighborhood). “I saw some people watching us out their windows,” one girl shared. “I think they thought we were doing something wrong…” She sounded anxious. Don’t worry, I told them, you guys did nothing wrong. We had a really cool conversation about changes in society and how kids have a lot to think about these days.  Ahh. Back in the day, we ventured out of our caves and it was ok. Our cave neighbors knew who we were; they knew where we lived. They’d call our parents if we did something wrong, but playing outside? That was just part of cave life. For the record, I was proud to contribute to the delinquency of a few minors this past weekend. It’s just how we roll in this cave.

I'm sticking with the classic.Image:

I’m sticking with the classic.

When you start messing with tradition however, you’ve gone too far. I grew up listening to The Night Before Christmas each year at Christmas. I memorized every single word, and during a visit to the Senior Center this week (for Hanukkah) I realized that I actually still remember every word… or, I thought I did. Apparently the PC (Politically Correct) police have gone to work on the big SC (Santa Claus) or SN (Saint Nicholas), and it’s just wrong. Wrong people!  Writer Pamela McColl (and let me say here, it is hardly writing when you take a 200 year old classic, Classic, and remove a few lines and then self-publish it) has removed two lines from the A Visit From Saint Nicholas or more popularly known as Twas The Night Before Christmas. This poem is arguably one of the “best known verse ever written by an American.” Countless adults and children have listened to this story each Christmas, since 1823 when it was written. Somehow Ms. McColl decided that children of the world would be much better off if Jolly St. Nick didn’t have that pipe. “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth/and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath,” is no longer part of the poem, according to McColl’s version. Let me just say: Give me a break! I’m all about making smoking a thing of the past, I get the idea. But this is a Classic, timeless holiday story. I believe that most kids, like to imagine Santa with that wreath of smoke around his head. It is not a cigarette and kids for nearly 200 years have not run out and smoked because Santa had a pipe. They know that pipes belong to jolly old men, and that is a long way off for little guys who are listening to this story. Maybe Ms. McColl needs to slim that big guy down, while she’s fixing all the cares of the Christmas world. Feh, I say. Feh!  I’m going back to my cave to read the original.

"The smoke it encircled his head like a wreath..." Image:

“The smoke it encircled his head like a wreath…”

I know my last post was a kvetch fest as I celebrated Festivus (ala Seinfeld), and this is a bit more of the same’ish, but really people. Sometimes it seems like we are moving so far into the “correct zone,” the PC and more zone, that we can’t see the forest for the trees. We can see the Jolly man’s face clearer because there’s no wreath of smoke around his face, but our kids can’t play outside at night, without someone calling the police… no doubt afraid of being bound and assaulted.

We did a lot of things that have gone the way of the dinosaurs we rode, and while I do accept that there are reasons for many of the changes, (and while I respect the right to choose wax and floss, separate of each other) there are some days when all the picky details seem over the top and counter-productive, just further complicating so many other aspects of our lives.  In my mind, many things needed to change, but not everything. The cave was damp and dark, the prairie was dusty and hard, but there were lots of good things as well. Not everything needs to be tweaked and recreated. While I wouldn’t spit in my mascara (and for the record, didn’t do it then either), kids should play outside—they’re not all ruffians to call the police on, and Santa will always have a pipe in my holiday stories.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blogging, bullying, Christmas, Daily Observations, Holidays, Honest observations on many things, Humor, Life, Musings, My world, Parenting, Personal change, Sarcasm, Tales From the Motherland, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Middle… Back In the Cave, We Spit In Our Mascara

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Kids who play outside do better at school and have less behavioral problems. Studies have shown this. It’s hard to not fret as a parent when your kids are out and about, but I know that it’s necessary for them to explore and do things on their own. I still get nervous when my seventh grader bikes downtown. It’s only a mile away, and he has his cell phone, which is more for my piece of mind, but I still breathe a sigh of relief when he’s home. But we gotta let them do these things. Helping them foster independence is our job.

    By the way, another eye thing that’s gross is when people take out their contact lens, stick it in their mouth to moisten it, and then put it back in their eye. I watched a checker at Target do this recently. Think of the germs on her fingers (from the cash and the till); think of the germs in her mouth; think of how all those germs found their way into her eyes. Yuck.


    • Love that you can add the medical perspective to these comment Carrie. No kidding… ick! The contact example is totally disgusting!

      As for the kids and outside play, I feel like there so much more I could have done to keep my kids outside, but man it was so fun to see these teens go out and play what is essentially a combination of hide and seek and tag, out at night… they felt so free and excited. I kept thinking how strange it is that this was so new for themthat we all tell them how great our childhoods were, but then are anxious about letting them experience the same, or neighbors are so afraid of crime that they don’t recognize a few kids playing. Very strange.

      Thanks taking the time Carrie… always appreciate your comments.


  2. etomczyk says:

    So true my friend, so true! I think that is one of the reasons we’ve lost our collective sense of humor. Everything is so PC–to the extreme. While I appreciate the fact that I’m not being called the “N” word from a nutty co-worker, neighbor, or boss, I also know that historical or literary characters that don’t fit today’s PC culture cannot be rewritten (I’m still bent out of shape that people tried to change Huckleberry Finn and make it more PC). Mark Twain’s original manuscript–though painful to read at times–is not effective, nor does it convey what Twain wanted to say about the culture and the time without the language he uses. Humans are such creatures of extremes–maybe we’ll balance out in the middle at some point, very soon! Very nice post!


    • I couldn’t agree more Eleanor! I certainly believe that certain PC changes are absolutely for the better: improving situations for people of color, friends who are gay, kids who are a little different, etc. Of course these changes don’t fix everything, but the increased awareness or peer pressure to not do things the way it’s been done in the past has helped move some things forward. That said, it really feels like it’s all gone way too far. Nothing is funny anymore and I feel guilty if I slip and say anything that has become un-PC. There are so many rules. The mere idea that anyone can alter a book like Twas the Night Before Christmas or Huck Finn is beyond insane! Talk about un-PC. Feh.


  3. Brilliant, Dawn! I’m with you 100%. What on earth is happening to our country when, Twas the Night Before Christmas, has to be altered to fit some PC freak’s idea? As John Stossel would say, “Gimme a break!!” Kids having fun running around their neighborhood, lemonade stands and now Saint Nick! It’s an outrage! By the way, I have that poem/story memorized, as well. It was a tradition in our house, too. I’m glad you wrote this little rant. Well done.


  4. Sing the song sister!! Here’s to playing outside and old St Nick smoking a pipe. I’m beginning to get why God made grandparents. It is our duty to keep imagination alive and literature pure 🙂


    • Thanks! I am much closer to being a grandmother than a young mother these days… still have one home in high school, but generally much closer to grandma. Oh, that is a scary thought! But yes, imagination and purity: I am your super hero! 🙂


  5. Great post. Never spit on the mascara, but for sure did plenty of make up sharing. Loved that the kids ran around outside — a friend of ours can’t wait for grandsons to be old enough to play Capture the Flag.. and he’s nearly 50. And while we’re on a PC Xmas rant, I hate listening to these songs while shopping– elevator music x 10 and kids aren’t learning these beautiful songs in school because it’s not PC…


    • There’s a lot of irony in all of it I think. Strange that we hear it all over, but kids don’t learn it… and yet, we were grateful when things were a tad more neutral at schools regarding the holidays. I don’t think Christmas should be so nuttered down, however, that no one can use the word Christmas in school! Is your friend nearly 50 or the grandson?? Holy cow!


  6. 1EarthUnited says:

    LOL, great post… I miss the good ole days of “cave living”. On the upside, kids are more respectful these day, and we now have organic all natural makeup! …. debatable?


    • Welcome to TFTM! Glad to have you and really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and comment. Debatable? Well, I think kids are not as respectful as they once were. That’s a tough one, but overall, I think dropping the Mr. and Mrs for kids (they call their friend’s parents by their first names, from 1st grade on) and a society that tends to tell kids that they have an equal say in things, has made this a sticky area. I like that kids are more involved in their own lives and express opinions, but I think it’s set up an environment where kids feel entitled to say and do whatever they want…. Hmm. Hopefully you dropped in and don’t mind some real, honest debate. 😉


  7. Ahh. Takes me back to playing hide and seek with walkie-talkies on a hillside of woods, behind the houses across the street. We’d have played behind our house, but after a little bit of woods, you’d hit swamp and a creek. The entire neighborhood of kids would join in. These days, my son and his buddies have lots of adventures at our place. Fortunately for them, we have a stream, a river, a big yard, woods, and a field.


    • Good for you Mariner! Glad there are still lots of moms out there who are willing to let their kids go outside and play! There’s too little of it, but always nice to hear about the people who still to. Thanks for sharing! Happy holidays!


  8. Miriam E. says:

    just wonderful. i’d go live in that cave anytime!



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