The One Where I Show How Old I Am

I’ve never seen an episode of “Friends.”

This statement is usually met with shock and surprise, which is understandable since the show has earned a rightful place within our contemporary culture (at least that’s my understanding from those who’ve told me) and will no doubt be shown in reruns even after we’ve been forced to leave Earth for some outer planet, which civilization must colonize for humanity’s survival.

But a clear example of how the show has permeated our existence is the title of this post, as it mirrors the way the writers named each show, “The One Where…” a fact known even by me.

What got me thinking about such a title was an article which made me feel like I finally belong in the previous generation, an admission that perhaps technology, or rather the use of it, has passed me by. 

Happily.

And a bit sadly.

Writers, those who make their living with the written word are now attracting younger readers by integrating their books into video games.  Shocking, huh?  Or is it?

“97% of children 12-17 play games on computers, consoles, and hand held devices” the Pew Internet & American Life Project tells us.  I’d argue that the figure also includes kids 6-8, if my having to kick my own children off the computer to type this post is any indicator.

What does this have to do with wine you ask (correctly)?  This…

Reading, pure reading, fosters conversation.   But in America, we now have libraries hosting video game tournaments.  Think of how alien this is to those of us who still frequent the public library to get BOOKS.  How quaint.

The question again, what does this have to do with wine?

As usual, I think Europe has it right.  The inclusion of long meals, children included, with lots of food and wine in the daily flow of their lives also fosters conversation.  No TV, no Play Sations, just life.  As always, I’m not saying this as a absolute statement.  I assume kids play computer/video games in Burgundy, in Tuscany, outside Barcelona.  But something tells me (maybe naively) that it’s not as all obsessing there as it is here in the States.

When a culture gives up, when novelists need video games to sell books, or we can’t sit down for a long meal without the kids (read: my kids) getting bored and needing to go turn on Sponge Bob, I say we are less a culture for it.

Wine brings us together like no other beverage on earth.  Promise me you’ll try and take that extra time to bring your whole family together.  Use the last few sips of Barolo in the glass, grab a book and read to your kids instead of letting them get away. 

That’s what I’m going to do right now.

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 8:40 pm  Comments (1)  

Wine Education

As if it’s not bad enough that I’m one of the only dads who volunteers at my kids school (and as such must be pegged as some out of work sitcom writer to those who don’t know what I actually do for a living), my beloved kindergartener, Joss, came home with this completed worksheet on Friday.

The assignment is called “Safety Math” and asks the children to look at five sets of pictures and “X” out those objects which are safety hazards to the average five year old.

Some are self-explanatory: the light socket, lit candle, and sizzling BBQ are all dangers to be sure.  But what’s that next to the book of matches (and is the danger there the actual matches or the potential social diseases of the cocktail waitress who wrote her number on the inside flap)?   A jug labeled, “Wine.”

This too has some subjectiveness to it.  Is the assignment saying that jug wine is something that could, in the words of the handout, “harm you” or is it the alcohol itself?

I ask only in jest because obviously we know that jug wine is bad for you, offering up nothing in the way of upfront fruit but compensating with a dull headache the day after drinking it.

This whole assignment got me thinking about my place in the educational system being a member of the alcohol industry.  On one level, we donate a lot of wine each year to various school auctions throughout the country on behalf of our customer base, which is a true win-win because wine is always a popular thing to bid on, while also giving us some exposure to the wine buying public.  And yet, if it came down to buying an ad in the school newsletter, say offering up a discount to my fellow parents who lets be honest, probably need wine more than anyone I know, I’m pretty confident the ad revenue would be turned away.

That’s okay.  I’ve made lots of good friends as a result of answering the simple question, “What do you do?”  and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Better still, when I asked my son if he said anything to the teacher regarding the wine, hoping he’d defend his dad and his profession, he replied, “I told her wine isn’t dangerous, I love wine.”

And I love him…

Published in: on September 22, 2008 at 3:24 pm  Comments (8)