Do you know what maypops are? When I was in middle school, everyone who was anyone wore Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. “Chucks,” we called them. Oh, there were a few more hoity toity types who had the new Adidas, but Chucks were the standard. I had bright green high-top Chucks, into which I put purple laces, laced upside-down so that they tied in a bow at the white rubber-tipped toe. Very feminine. Looked particularly fetching with my orange and purple polyester jumpsuit. But I digress. Kids who, for lack of funds, or lack of knowledge, or lack of parental cooperation, did not have Chucks, had “maypops.” And once everyone knew what maypops were, we shortened the label to “‘pops.”
“Ha, Davey, yo’ mama got you them red ‘pops!” We would say, as we pointed and laughed until Davey’s face matched his ‘pops. (We were ghetto when ghetto wasn’t cool.) Perhaps because Chucks weren’t all that expensive, i.e., most people could afford them, we didn’t consider the maypop teasing to be cruel. It was mostly an observation of the adolescent angst that occurs when your parents inflict their (lack of) fashion sense on you.
I have carried the maypop paradigm (I challenge you to find those two words together anywhere else) with me into adulthood. For instance, a few years back, Jif very generously, very thoughtfully, bought me four new tires for my hoopty (I’ve fallen into the wayback machine; please indulge me). When he came home and told me what he’d done, I was terribly excited. I began to try to guess what kind. The ones represented by the big white marshmallow man? The ones on which the cute babies hydroplaned down the highway (because so much is riding on your tires)? What? What?
None of the above.
“Real Deal Wheels,” he said. OK, I don’t remember the name. But the point was, I’d never heard of them.
“What? What are they, some kind of ‘slight irregulars’?”
“No. They were what the guy at Mr. Round Rubber Rollers recommended. Said they’re better than the marshmallow ones or the baby ones. And anyway, he didn’t have either of those kind.”
“Oh. So you said, ‘Hey, I want to get my wife some really good tires. How much for your marshies or your hyrdobabies?’ And he said, ‘Don’t have those; but I’ve got some POPS over here, how about some POPS?’”
“Yes, POPS. You got me MAYPOP tires!” I was truly offended. I had to explain to Jif about maypops. I researched the Real Deals and discovered that, yes, they were kind of like Adidas, so I got over it. But still. I like that marshmallow tire guy.
A couple of weeks ago, just before LG’s graduation from gradeschool, I needed new camera batteries. Jif was going to the store, so I put them on the list. He came back with loads of batteries. But they were not brand names. I was ticked.
“What are these?!”
“Batteries. Two for one sale.”
“You ever heard of this kind? What’s it? ‘Smart Living.’ Hmph.”
“No, but they were two for one. They’re just batteries.”
“Just batteries? I’m going to use them to take pictures of just your only child’s only gradeschool graduation! You entrust that to ‘Simple Life’* batteries? MAYPOP batteries?” (*Yes, in that moment, I changed the name.)
“They’re fine. A battery is a battery.”
“Hmph.” And that was that. For then.
A few days later, Jif was off to the store to get the ice cream for LG’s pool party. “What brand do you want me to get? Edy’s? Ben and Jerry’s?”
“No, don’t get anything that expensive. They’re going to load it up with toppings and crap, so just get something good but basic.”
“Oh, Breyer’s, Turkey Hill . . . . anything but Simple Life . . . ” I stifled my giggle while I waited for his response.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you intended to EAT the batteries.”
“What?! No, I’m just sayin’…” and I laaaaaaffed and laffed. And I think Jif smiled a bit, too, as he left to get the decent, brand name ice cream.
Fast forward about a week. We are sitting in a neighborhood restaurant for a quick dinner. LG asks her Dad if we have any batteries at home. “We have a lot of them. I just bought them. On sale.”
I can’t resist. “But LG, what do you need them for? We have maypop batteries.”
Jif explains, “Mommy doesn’t like that I didn’t buy brand name batteries.”
LG gets it right away. “No copper top? No bunny with a drum?”
“Not a single bunny,” I say.
“So what kind are they?” she asks.
“Simple Life . . . . Simpleton . . . something like that.”
Jif is looking persecuted, so I try to explain. “Look. I don’t care about brand names for most things. But some things, there are some things on which I will not compromise. They are . . . batteries . . . paper towels . . . and . . . there must be something else . . . oh, yea, macaroni and cheese. ALWAYS buy the brand names on these things, no matter how cheap the maypops are!”
Jif indicates that I am being ridiculous.
“Look, ” I say to him, “isn’t there something, something, that you always, always want the brand name of? Come on, there must be something . . . “
“Come on . . . “
“OK. Those shoes that I like to wear to work. Rockports. I always try to find the Rockports.”
“Well, there you go! And you wouldn’t like it if I brought you home a pair of Simple Ports, now would you? Huh? You wouldn’t go around sportin’ the Simpleton Shoes! Would you?!”
Sigh. “No. I wouldn’t sport the Simpleton Shoes.”
Now, see? That’s all I’m saying.
Now tell me. What MUST you have brand names of? And do you have a word for maypops?
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