Sarah R. Callender


In General on June 27, 2011 at 6:19 am

There’s a tag on my little Mini Flat Iron (the mini flat iron I use to straighten a triumvirate of mini curls on my forehead) that offers this stern admonition: Do Not Use in Bathtub.

A flat iron, in case you were not born with curls in unacceptable places, looks like this:

I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid using anything electric, especially anything that plugs into the wall, whilst I’m sitting in a large tub of already-warm water. I don’t use the toaster oven while I’m in the bath. I don’t vacuum while I’m in the bath. I don’t make smoothies while I’m in the bath.

Yet the warning is right there.

And it’s not just flat iron companies that have a monopoly on silly warnings. Check out this one on Buddy’s and Sweetie’s Razor Scooters:

This label warns: “This product moves when used.”

Are there some kids who ask Santa for an immobile scooter? Are tricks and stunts a whole lot harder OR a whole lot easier on an immobile scooter?

Then there’s this one:

Right-o. But if I hold the chain saw in the proper way, can I use it in the bath tub? In the bathtub on my mobile scooter?

There are other warnings about NOT putting kids and pets in the clothes dryer. Warnings about NOT using Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush (the bathroom cleaner) “for personal hygiene.” Warnings about how a 13-inch wheelbarrow wheel is NOT “intended for highway use.”

I like to think I’m not alone in my reluctance to put a wheelbarrow wheel on my minivan and drive to Yellowstone. Yet this warning exists. Why?

Some might say these warnings are an inherent part of any CYA, uber-litigious society.

Others might say these warnings exist because we have become a nation of dum-dums: people who watch too much reality television, people who don’t read books, people who somehow believe Obama is Muslim. As dum-dums, we rely on little reminders about, for example, the right vs. the wrong end of a chainsaw. And whether a scooter with wheels on the bottom will move.

But I think the real reason for Warnings is one part Darwinism and one part terrorism.

That’s right. Just stay with me for a moment. STAY WITH ME! It will all become clear (mostly) in the next paragraphs.

To explain: Charles Darwin, as you know, coined those famous phrases, “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection.” And I think he got it right. A society thrives and prospers when its fittest survive. Sooooo, what if there’s a terrorist group that wants the unfittest to survive?

Obviously, we who would flat iron our hair while submerged in water are not, perhaps, the Fittest our society has to offer. So what if this particular group of Darwinistic terrorists wants us dum-dums to avoid being electrocuted or maimed or put in the dryer SO THAT we can procreate SO THAT we can give birth to kids who are equally dim witted SO THAT their terrorist organization can take over the entire country during a single episode of American Idol.


But here’s the great ironic twist in my conspiracy theory: Darwinistic terrorists (or any other terrorist group for that matter) do NOT warn us about the things that really should include the strongest and sternest of warnings. Like having a baby. Or getting married. Or enrolling one’s children in the Seattle Public School system.

Oh, just kidding. I LOVE (mostly) Seattle Public Schools. It’s their totally un-navigable website that I can’t abide. That website should come with a warning. A warning AND an apology. Probably also a promise that our kids are not being educated with the methods used in creating that website.

I’m not sure where Darwinistic terrorists fall on the idea of NOT warning us about the important things, and this is probably where, friends, my conspiracy theory gets a little holey. Or, as Husbandio pointed out, a lot holey. But who cares! Creating conspiracy theories is really fun! You should try it!

In fact, this leads me to a second warning-related conspiracy theory. Maybe it’s OUR PARENTS who make up another group of terrorists. Pro-population terrorists. They withhold all warnings about the difficulties and challenges of marriage and parenthood because they want GRANDKIDS. So we, trusting our parents, nod our heads and say I Do, shortly after which we toss the birth control out the window and start a family. The next thing we know, our parents are smiling happily, a grandkid on each knee. Meanwhile, we’re sitting in a pile of Lego and Goldfish crackers, sobbing softly (or, in my case, loudly) because this was supposed to feel different. Wasn’t it?

Or, maybe we aren’t warned about any of the important stuff because it’s impossible to be warned about life’s most important things. And anyway, Falling in Love or Feeling the Biological Clock or Fervently (Mostly) Believing in the Concept of Public Education always overrides all warnings.

But here’s the truth: I’m glad I wasn’t warned or persuaded to take a different path.

My marriage may be 1-3 cm. shy of Storybook, but the longer I’m married to Husbandio, the more certain I am that I won the lottery when we I do’d each other.

Buddy and Sweetie, now officially 1st and 3rd graders, have turned into fabulously funny and interesting people, kids whom I now only occasionally want to lock in the basement. Seriously, this is the start of the second week of summer, and only three times have I wanted to lock them in the basement. And yes, there was that the time on Saturday when I wanted to hop into or onto something other than a minivan and drive off into the sunset with Husbandio. But then I got a good night’s sleep and my kids were no longer creatures from whom I wanted to escape.

As for my relationship with Seattle Public Schools, well, I can still write a little better than Buddy and Sweetie, but they’ve both surpassed me in Everyday Math and Knowledge of the Iditarod and The Life Cycle of the Butterfly. So that’s cool.

So now you go: what things or people or events in your life should have come with a warning? Should your mother-in-law have come with a warning? Should your stint on have come with a warning? Should your decision to buy a minivan or skinny jeans have come with a warning? Please share your warnings, serious or funny or just plain insightful.

And, if you’re interested in starting a Conspiracy Theory Club, meet me at the park just down the street on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. I’ll bring brownies and probably some Goldfish Crackers, in case we want something savory to go with the sweet. And it’s OK if your first conspiracy theories have a few holes. The best ones usually do.

  1. I laughed so hard at this post! There are no shortage of dumb warnings out there, and I think you’ve got it right about the conspiracy theory;)

  2. Hey Sarah, GREAT post! Love it!

  3. Warnings I would have liked:
    *The Lost in Space Remake-seriously, there is not enough mockery in the world to get through that horror
    *That just because you got straight A’s in High School, does not, in fact, mean you are prepared for University.
    *Cheap earrings will turn you ears into swollen, itchy, puss-pockets
    *Tweeting after drinking more than any 40yr old-should leads to much deleting come morning.

    Oh, and yeah, I hate to think what we paid that web developer. Oh SPS, will you ever fail to disappoint?

  4. Teaching English for a living absolutely should have come with a warning! Young, idealistic world-changers take their place in new classrooms only to cone out cross-eyed and beaten down by the end of the year! That’s what 1,278 mind-numbing analytical essays on Othello, Mickingbird and House on Mango can do to a person!! Who knew we’d be spending every night and every weekend grading paper after paper? Love the kids and the classroom….hate hate hate the papers.

    • Amen, sister. THAT is exactly what turned me into a bitter, grumbling teacher, who, at the time was only 29. The kids are the fabulous part; the never-ending work and grading is the killer. Enjoy your summer. Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

  5. *Not Sarah but rather absolutely requires a HUGE do not enter sign or at least ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK

    *falling for someone with a mack truck full of baggage is another one although i knew better so i guess it was more not heeding the warning

    but i agree with you mostly it’s a good and blessed thing the absence of a warning because if you were forewarned there is the chance of missing all the goodness as well.

  6. When I was a kid, my parent’s friends like to say, “Oh, to be young again. If only I could go back to high school with the knowledge I have now. I would have done it so differently.” Extrapolating from these unsolicited declarations, I figured that adulthood actually did hold some sort of “knowledge” that I would presumably wish I could take back to my own childhood for a do-over. This was foolish thinking, I realize now. There was an embedded warning in the words of these adults. DO NOT SQUANDER YOUR YOUTH. Perhaps it was that or something else, entirely. Maybe it was just something they felt they were supposed to say while swirling their glass of whiskey and waggling their eyebrows at the other adults. Meanwhile I studied them, practiced adulthood like them, looked in the mirror and whispered nonsense phrases like, “Youth these days…” Then, one day I woke up and realized I actually was an adult. But the real kicker is that if I were to be transported back in time, I’m not sure I could point to any amount of “knowledge” I could use to help me survive the perplexities of life, regardless of the era or age.

    • LOVE this comment, Kim. I agree completely. And, even if I were armed with vast knowledge, would I really want to go back to the eighties? Shoulder pads are not my thing.

  7. Delightful! Perhaps growing old should have come with a warning: when you start to say, “how can that child be behind the wheel of a passenger car” it is time to slap on the highest heels you can totter around in, and begin the process of unsuitable behaviours, or else you will find yourself wearing purple and making tsk tsk when lovers kiss at stop signs.

    • This comment is precisely why I adore you, L. Spoken like a woman who’s a master at tottering and acting vaguely unsuitable, especially while wearing tight jeans. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  8. At a nearby mall, they have those cute strollers for kids that look like little racing cars, complete with cup holders for kids inside next to the faux steering wheel, AND on top for the parent.

    There is also a mesh bag on the back, presumably for purchases. With a warning label to not place children into said bag. (Will have to photograph, next time I am in the vicinity.)

    Sometimes I think that people cannot possibly be that dumb, and then again, I will hear someone say they think certain brunettes are fully qualified to be President of the USA, and I will think, hmmm, maybe they CAN be that dumb.

    • Oh my gosh. That is hysterical! Who puts her kid in a mesh bag that’s hooked to a stroller! I am envisioning the baby with mesh-marks all over his body. Sheesh. And between you and me, I think the exact same thing about qualifications for the POTUS . . . you betcha! 😉

  9. I wish there had been one on my drivers’ licence: WARNING: SOMEDAY YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO DRIVE EVERY. DAMNED. DAY. AND IT WILL SUCK. Also, with my voter’s registration card: ALL CHOICES MAY BE DUMBER THAN THEY APPEAR.

    There are several other warnings I would have benefitted from, but alas, I suffer from the terrible ailment of believing myself Right and Unlikely To Change My Mind about most things. Perhaps that warning ought to have been handed out with every baby born in my birth year, as it does appear to be epidemic in my generation.

    • Ha! Love it, Alison, as always. I’d say the younger generations act even “righter” than we’ve ever acted. Or maybe that just means I’m getting old. Something along the lines of, “Kids these days! What are they THINKING?!!”

  10. Awesome post. Love your transition into Darwinistic terrorism. I believe that some people are too stupid to live. I work in a criminal law office in the afternoons and I am continually astounded by the defiance of common sense. I often wonder how people survived on the planet as long as they did. And litigious!?! These are the kind of folks who sue a home owner for shooting at them as they’re breaking in. The very reason stupid labels were invented in the first place.

    • Thanks, Ann, for your comment. I bet you see all kinds of crazy in your job! Love it: “defiance of common sense.” May I use that on my kids? I’ll say it’s an Ann Sheybaniism. Thanks so much for reading!

  11. I used to think that some people are too clueless to live, then I remembered my childhood. I hope I didn’t pass the stupid-kid gene to my boys. From riding my bike on a school rooftop, to destroying a solid wood fence with a crossbow arrow, to shooting homemade nail-tipped blow darts through PVC pipe, to blowing up pumpkins with a lit candle and a can of hairspray, to riding my skateboard through traffic while hitched to the family dog, I did some dumb things.

    Warnings can only protect people who are rational. Flattening your hair while taking a bath seems as reasonable as using the last rung of a ladder to reach a high branch. If it wasn’t for warnings on these products, there would likely be more injuries (and lawsuits). The problem is that you can’t anticipate all the stupid things one might do with a product. “Warning – never ride your bike on a rooftop…you might fall off and die”. Who would be dumb enough to do something like that? You’d be surprised.

    • Oh my gosh, Mike. Does Josie know about all of this? Yes, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the boys have inherited J’s genes in this area. LOVE this. Thanks so much for commenting. See you soon!

  12. […] the connection between marriage and writing in Monogamy to ”Darwinistic terrorists” in Conspiracy. Callender is an agented writer, which makes me very hopeful that someday I’ll have her book […]

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