Nut Butter Bars and Comments on So Cal

Friday, December 26, 2008

I sometimes get small reminders of why I've decided to no longer live in the affluent part of Orange County, California, where I grew up. While many of the people who live here are good, honest, regular people who pay their bills, eat like anyone else, and have a healthy concept of what reality is and their actual place in it there are those who simply don't.

Have you seen "The Real Housewives of Orange County"? I grew up surrounded by people just like them. Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, Lake Forrest, Newport, etc. All these places prescribe to and cultivate a stylized sense of neuveau-riche-ality where everyone should be tan, wear designer sunglasses indoors, and damn it, their food is organic and costs much more than regular organic food because it's bought at Organic-Green-Mart (as opposed to going to a farmer's market and getting your produce fresher and way cheaper and it still being just as good if not better).

Anywhose, I went to the Pavillion's here and was shocked. I mean, I love the store. Good wine selection. Great shellfish. Any mushroom or produce you want is available. Of course, it'll all cost you, but those living here in the land of SVUs, 5 credit cards, and disposable income up the wazoo where a basic home costs around 600K, well, it's simply not an issue.

Walking in I ran into the far too familiar and annoying brand of crazy, the So Cal Crazy. I was nearly run over by a kid who couldn't have been older than 11. He ran up to the in-store coffee shop and proceeded to order a mocha. Trailing behind were the siblings who had no desire to acknowledge my existence and bumped right into me with no apology and the youngest, a little girl, gave me a scornful look as I had apparently ruined her day.

I gave them each my quick appraisal stare to analyze their unique demonic auras and social status. You grow up here and you inherently develop the "appraisal stare," a super-power that let's you efficiently evaluate anyone's status, class, and net worth based on their clothing, hair and accessories in under half a second. The trained eye can do it in a casual glance lasting about five one-hundredths of a second.

Through my appraisal stare I noticed each was dressed in probably $200 of designer clothes. The middle child was dressed like a rich gangster rapper, a trend I guess he would continue until he was in high school as being white but dressed like a gangster would be the right amount of danger for upper-class girls. The youngest little spore, a girl of seven in Dolce sunglasses and Baby Phat hoodie gave me her own appraisal stare, still obvious as she was young and hadn't yet the practice to do it in a half glance, and grimaced at me.

I rose an eyebrow at her and moved on. My ratty jeans and sweatshirt were comfy and I moved to the wine aisle to pick up a few more gifts. Still, I was a little miffed, my watch is Omega, dammit. She threw her nose up at me and continued plugging away at her iphone, a situation which I was confused at for what on earth a child needs an iphone for I haven't the slightest.

Children like this were the ones who would grow up to be trust fund children - spoiled, irresponsible, with no concept of how the world really works. The little girl's fate would be a sad one; she would become popular for good looks and money and probably giving out hand jobs at the age of thirteen making her a favorite of the boys and a slut to the other girls (only in whispers, BFF's in public). The boys would become arrogant and useless - pretty with no desire to work for anything having been handed all on a silver plate. All married at 25, divorced at 28. Etc. It may sound cruel, but I say it simply because I had grown up with people like this and seen this scenario played out dozens of times.

The mother was dressed up as well in a designer track suit, chatting on her iphone. She paid the coffee person no attention, nor watched her kids as she gabbed away. She paused only to place her own order, talking as she fumbled for her credit card. The world existed only on the other side of the call at the moment, and as she was surrounded by lights and glitter of holiday decorations, the sounds of Christmas music, the politeness of the coffee person behind the counter or the whining of her brood I don't believe she was aware of any of it, incapable of producing a reaction to the slightest of stimuli. That phone was her god, and she its devoted acolyte.

But moving on.

The Pavillion's had something new I had never seen before that intrigued and appaled me. The Nut Butter Bar. No, I'm not being crude though the potential for sexual innuendo is intense and viscous here on out. It's a station where you can go to machines filled with various nuts, and you can freshly grind your own nut butter. Peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, even cashews. Indeed there are even some with honey roasted nuts or a selection of seeds, peanuts and chocolate chips for a more trail-mix like nut butter.

All for $1 an OUNCE. A 18 ounce jar of Skippy will go about $3. The same amount of organic peanut butter, maybe $5. The equivalent would cost you $18. Plus tax.

And let me tell you, there was a line for this. Props for trying people, but when you can buy the nuts by the pound and grind them yourself, well, why not? Indeed there is even a bulk section of the store where you could buy peanuts by the pound for cheaper, then take it home and pop it in the blender or whatnot.

Organic food advertising strikes again. The underbelly of the Slow Food movement, the Faux-Slow Food movement. A case in which the idea of green, organic, slow food is taken so far it becomes a retardation of its true self. Indeed many of these people had been cultured and trained, subtly or with a baseball bat, that organic and slow is good. However, the critical parts of their brains have been dulled to the point where they don't realize that the slow food snake oil they're buying is a near reversal of the process they are trying to embody and support. Good intentions gone wrong.

Making your own peanut butter? Good, assuming you bought the nuts, roasted them and ground them yourself - an easy process. Going to the store and paying a ransom for a machine to simply grind your own gourmet choice blend of nuts? Batshit crazy.

Not everyone here sucks, just a lot of them. Plenty of good people live in So Cal and many make their own jams, pickles, and some even raise their own chickens here in Laguna Beach in their backyards, much to the chagrin of their neighbors (it reduces property value). I grabbed the bottle of wine I needed and left. The cashier was sweet, the lady behind me clever, and witty banter ensued in line and all wished each other a happy holidays.


  1. Amen. And amen to that amen!

    You've summed up my biggest gripe against SoCal quite nicely.

    It'd be interesting, given the burgeoning economic apocalypse, to see that family in another year...

    I enjoy your blog a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I'm from good ol' San Diego. People wonder why I ever left. And I'm all "Excuse me? Have you ever even been to NorCal?" Too many of them (me, formerly, as well) think the world revolves around SoCal. It doesn't.

    I love Northern California.

  3. *sigh*

    Is it bad that I still miss SoCal? I was born down there, and we used to visit during the summers until my grandparents both died. I guess we never made it to the rich part of town to find the snobs. But I miss San Diego, black sand, tide pools, and SeaPort Village.

  4. LOL, that was priceless and so well written and expessed.....

    Kudo's to you.....I enjoyed the passion and honesty....


  5. There are a lot of wonderful people in Orange County. And, some of them even raise their own children....... ;-)

  6. When my boyfriend took me to Newport Beach (where he used to live in THE zip code) I felt like I had been dipped in superficiality slime. I couldn't wait to leave. It amazes me how people can robotically live so fakey without any authenticity.

  7. It's nice to know that there is no discernible difference between the east and west coast levels of snob. Thank you for pointing out yet another flaw on the face of humanity.

    I too enjoy your blog and thank you for sharing your well-worded thoughts with the world.

  8. I grew up in Orange County. I moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. I miss Pavillions and good Mexican food. I do not miss the Parking Lot aka the 405 or the snobby attitudes (I get enough of that here). I really liked your post it brought back a lot of memories.

  9. Ah I just posted on my Blog about the "So what do you do question" .. I guess that's the appraisal stare but for people in suits at prof functions. oh how I hate it! But great post and I hope you stop by my blog sometime.. think you might like it.

  10. You have essentially summarized everything I detest about Orange County (and the family members I have who live there). When did it become acceptable to treat other people like props (aisle display, kid working the coffee counter, shopping cart -- all the same, right?)?!?! It's disgusting. That being said, I have to stick up for SoCal. It's not all like that. It's just like in places where people with too much money and too little soul congregate.

  11. Rockin! I think you blog is always hilarious and right on, this is just another example of it!



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