Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ADVENTURES IN PERSONAL PURITY SCORE.

Not even Ivory Soap is pure.


I was eating lunch with a couple friends recently when the topic of coffee drinks came up, and one person said, "Well, I went to Starbucks the other day -- I don't usually go there, but someone gave me a gift card, you see," and doo da dippity, she went on to describe a brewed beverage, but along the way, attempted to address what I'll call her "Personal Purity Score" by disavowing any particular affection for Starbucks, a going concern that is also synonymous with "big impersonal national chain that has helped kick the little guy (who must've had character) to the curb." She said, in effect, that someone else created the circumstances under which she actually patronized the joint, and as such, attempted to safeguard our opinion of her. Some people will stick up for Starbucks, noting that the coffee's not bad, and the company isn't either, and besides, there are worse examples of corporate misbehavior in this world (see: Walmart, BP, Haliburton, etc.) This raises a question that many of us consider -- subconsciously, perhaps -- every day: How pure is our behavior as consumers, for starters, but also in other arenas as well: In relationships, with political choices, as regards to the arts (bands, literature, etc.) we prefer, and with respect to the very food we eat, the very drink we imbibe? Would one increase his Personal Purity Score by averring his preference for working-class suds like Budweiser, as opposed to some pricey, fruity Belgian import? Would one increase his PPS by listening to jazz on vinyl as opposed to compact disc or MP3? You may not like the Tea Party movement, but the central plank in its platform -- nay, its only plank -- concerns the various facets of fiscal stewardship, making the movement, arguably, more understandable or accessible, for example, than the Democrats; thus, the Tea Party crowd, in its own way, may be more pure, since it may be more obvious (regardless of political bend) in its focus, as opposed to the bloated, muddled, flip-floppy major parties. Or take the social construct of marriages, half of which in this country seem to fail. Groom and bride make a bunch of promises that may otherwise contradict the essential character of the human animal whereas if they had never married, they may never have contradicted themselves in the first place. What is your carbon footprint? Is vegetarianism better for the world than being a carnivore? Do you -- really -- recycle? Ah, the list could go on and on. Raising another question: Can Personal Purity be attained? Is anyone pure? And if you or I cannot attain a high PPS, i.e., we may be beholden to circumstances that we cannot control, then what's the use of trying? Many years ago, I came across some kind of PETA catalogue and I swear they were advertising a really little ladder that one would install in his bathroom -- to help -- a spider -- climb out -- of the -- bathtub. If you don't own this ladder, and are not helping a spider to escape from your tub, then is your PPS slipping? After all, the average American will swallow, in her sleep, a certain number of aimless, wandering spiders every year, and if she isn't installing a little ladder in her mouth, to help the critters survive, is she taking the purest steps she could take?  A chunk of this is relative to the individual, obviously, but nevertheless, if you don't condemn conservative politics, if you gab on a cell phone as opposed to a land line, if you masquerade as an avant garde poet and/or a "Marxist", if you purchase products from Pfizer, if you waste toilet paper on casual spills, if you are "fashionable" -- Ladies and Gents -- the Big Question looms: Are You Pure? (Do you lose PPS for declaring your relative purity?) You may have a big heart, but when the time comes to meet your Maker, he or she may point out that you didn't exactly stick to the tenets of your faith. Or is religious devotion versus, say, cultural devotion, an impurity? Your conclusion may be that, like Ivory Soap, 100 percent purity cannot be attained, but we should all be striving, nevertheless. What's a good threshhold, then:  75 percent? 60 percent? 45 percent or less? I may be wrong, but the bar seems rather low, these days. Are there certain basic purities that we should all be demonstrating in our daily lives? Have we forgotten? Have we lost our way? Surely, in the grand scheme of Our Modern World, and the way we suffer Our Various Indignities, it hardly costs my friend very much PPS to have taken her gift card to Starbucks, am I right? I ask you.

19 comments:

RITA said...

...at least it's not Pure Prairie League...

sandrasimonds said...

the purity-sanity of the author is in question

Geopoulos said...

Oooh, you're sooo nonconformist. What a shock. Nobody could have a Personal Purity Score as high as yours.

Anonymous said...

Dude where have you been? I'm gong tobe a senior! In one more year DAVE and my m other can live in their den of ........ personalpurity!!!!! Who is this goepolous. ??? he is back. like the poltergeists. (ruh)Gina

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

RITA: Does one receive uh RITA in the Prairie? Somehow, I picture an urban setting. You know -- Rabid RITA / i / t / a.

------------------BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Sandra: the purity is in question. The sanity? There's a clause in my contract about all that. Oh, no, wait a minute. Everybody knows there's a-no-such-of-a-thing-as-a Sanity Clause.

----------------------------BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Beowulfopouolos: Nonconformity, me? What about you -- appropriating the name (Shakapopoulos) of a man who betrayed his boss (The POTUS) for personal gain. That's called Benedict Arnoldopoulos. If you are the real Shakapopoulos, then go outside, now, and work those little two pound purple waits, there, Dawg, up and down the streets of our Metropoulos. Bwoyeeee.

-----------------------------------------------------------------BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

(ruh)Gina:

Good to hear from you! As usualy, you totally mangle easy words like "going" (you: "gong") but get a word like poltergeist totally correct. As for Geopoulos -- he's real and not real, somebody and nobody. He is some kind of, like, total, World, universal, all-encompassing Opoulos! Are you still in Cleveland, Gina? Hi DAVE!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------BA

Geopoulos said...

You mean "weights" there 'Dawg'. I don't ridicule your background. Why do you ridicule mine? Oooh, there go the purity points!

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Your heritage? Oh (Brit. inflection) come on, Man. You have usurped the identity of a celeb. You have no heritage, there, AwSnapOpoulos. Nice try, though. --------------------------------------------------------------------BA

MIRA NILLSON said...

tee hee.

Anonymous said...

i'm still in cleveland. you misspelled usual! DAVE says hi.

ruhgina

(no typos)

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Well, Regina, don't forget that I'm from Cleveland, too. I miss the smell of the river -- acrid -- burning -- in the morning. I think that Robert Duvall should have said that, in a movie entitled CLEVELAND NOW. (Apocalypse is implied.) Hang in there. Senior year will be great and will suck but yes, at the end looms one kind of freedom.

-----------------------------------------------------------------BA

Anonymous said...

Reading this post, in conjunction with my morning run, has made my PPS score soar...Oh wait, I'm looking at art tonight rather than going to Drink & Walk...minus 100. (PS this is SG)

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Looking at art usually raises your PPS, but if you're missing happy hours then I just don't know. Well, in any event, if you can't make it tonight, let's hang out together soon. I'll be in Seattle next week, but mebbe a coffee or STOUT or other concoction shall be on the horizon. Morning run = PPS gain. -----------------------------------------------------------BA

Anonymous said...

So, you're the hottest professor around?

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Not an honor that I was seeking, but one that came my way, apparently. I'd be happy to comment further if you'd care to ID yourself. A simple rule I have. Even people who pretend to be other people still pretend to be somebody when they comment on BAG. ---BA

Geopoulos said...

A "celeb" huh? That man has more integrity than you do, 'Dawg'.

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

I'm hongry, Snackapopoulos. Let's see. Maybe for a fractured prune donut [sic.] You know anything about that? -------------------BA