Top o’ the Whinin’

I have no problem with St. Patrick’s Day. I like the color green, and I’m certainly in favor of there not being any snakes. My only complaint — and I realize this may not be entirely the fault of the Irish people — is that Lucky Charms is now a mockery of the fine cereal it used to be.

Lucky Charms, as with most things, was great when I was a kid but is now stupid. In the old days, there were five basic marshmallows: pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers and blue diamonds. The marshmallows were pure sugar, and if that wasn’t enough, the cereal part was sugar-frosted, too. And generally speaking, you’d also add a couple spoonfuls of sugar to your bowl, just to make sure you were getting the USDA-recommended allowance of sugar, which as I recall was 12 pounds a day for a 7-year-old boy.

Then they started messing with it. First they added purple horseshoes. I remember when they did it. They had about a thousand commercials leading up to the fact that they were going to ADD A NEW SHAPE! Kids everywhere talked about this and nothing else, except maybe Transformers. They teased us, giving several clues as to what the new shape might be. Finally, it was unveiled. A horseshoe! Of course! We all smacked ourselves in the forehead for not thinking of it. They’re supposed to be lucky charms, and what’s more lucky than a horseshoe? I don’t know why it had to be a purple one, except that maybe the horse was gay, but it was a horseshoe nonetheless.

(Why do horses even wear shoes, anyway? What kind of cruel trick has nature played on them, where they can’t even get by without man intervening and shoeing them? What do wild horses do, just stay on the grass, where it’s soft? And how would you like that for an alternative, anyway: Either you walk around in pain because the ground hurts you, or else you can have someone nail a piece of steel to your foot. Then, if you break your leg, they shoot you and make you into glue. Now that I think of it, I don’t think horseshoes are very lucky at all.)

Anyway, they didn’t stop at purple horseshoes. They’ve since added red balloons and multi-colored rainbows, so now there’s something like 47 different marshmallows, all of which taste exactly alike and have the same nutritional value as crack.

But my main point — and I realize this is only tangentially related to St. Patrick’s Day — is that my roommates and I are currently playing a game of chicken to see who will break down first and finally buy some toilet paper. We’ve been out for nearly a week, and each man knows that if he buys some more, he will establish a precedent and will thereafter ALWAYS have to be the one to buy it. One roommate is using bathrooms on campus. Another is using the ones at work, as am I. The fourth roommate is using newspaper. I swear this is true. I saw half of the comics page in there, and while I agree that this puts “Family Circus” to what must be its only practical use, I would also be concerned about the subject of ink transferrence. Still, I admire my roommate’s resourcefulness in making do (get it?! Say it out loud!) with whatever’s available.

If I were still a kid, Mom would buy some toilet paper and life would go on. Maybe, if I convinced her that it wouldn’t make me loopy, she’d even buy some Lucky Charms. At any rate, it seems like most things were better when I was a kid than they are now. If it turns out that’s not true, please don’t tell me. Thanks.

Odd how I went for dozens of weeks without mentioning my roommates (none of whom ever read this column, by the way), and then all of a sudden they get mentioned two weeks in a row. In truth, there were plenty of amusing things about my domestic situation at the time, but I was hesitant to dwell on them because I was a college graduate still living in my college apartment with my college roommates, and I didn't like the image -- i.e., loser -- that that would have put forth.

My mom rarely bought sweetened cereals when I was a kid. It had little to do with health issues; it was more because they cost so much, and we had six kids, and whenever she did buy something good, it would be gone in a day. But Grandma! Oh, Grandma always had some sugary cereals on hand. That was the main reason we loved her.

I really didn't like this column much at all, but I got quite a few e-mails from readers who thought it was great. I don't like to disagree with the readers, but I think I have to on this one. Thanks, though.