Saturday, June 16, 2012

Piggypiggy Confessions

I'll be the first to admit I have a list of pet peeves a mile long, but one of my biggest pet peeves is piggypiggyness. The term "piggypiggy" has been thrown around my house for years, and has several meanings. For example, you know when you get up in the middle of the night and are so ravenous you can't wait until daylight, so you creep into the kitchen and eat something you'd feel ashamed to eat any other time? Those late night snack sneaks are called "piggypiggy confessions." As soon as you admit it to someone, you've made your first piggypiggy confession.

We all have something that we're piggypiggy about.  I happen to know a wonderful, otherwise self-disciplined lady who sneaks a few sexy spoonfuls of cake icing in the middle of the night. I know another who gets up and serves herself a "cocktail" of pickle juice on ice with a cold pickle garnish. I also happen to know a mother of three who gets up in the middle of the night and eats messy little handfuls of imitation bacon bits, because I am that woman.

The word can take on a few meanings. For the purpose of today's lesson here is how I define piggypiggy:

piggypiggy: adjective, verb, adverb, you name it: 1. the overwhelming desire to grab something that's free. 2.the state of being consumed by the need to be the first to obtain an object, free or otherwise. That piggypiggy boy skipped in the school lunch line to get the last chocolate milk. She piggypiggied herself in front of three cars to get that parking spot. At last night's free concert, a family piggypiggily put their lawn chairs in front of us and blocked our view of REO Speedwagon!

When I lived in LA, I worked for a magazine that sponsored a charity 5K with Revlon, and before the race began, the participants were invited to come to a tent where the sponsors would give away everything from branded stress balls to tiny bottles of nail polish to coupons. My company decided that instead of cheap plastic junk, we would give away apples. Plain Jane, grocery store, pesticide-sprayed apples. But by the way those women pushed and pulled to get to free apples, you would think we were giving away bricks of gold. I literally had to yell at the top of my lungs, "Ladies, ladies! These are apples! Please stop pushing!"  

I'm sure there's some kind of psychological theory that explains why people lose all sense of dignity in a sudden race for free things, but that was the first time I'd seen it in action on such a grand scale, and it both upset me and grossed me out at the same time. I can't track the exact origin, but I believe that the Free Apple Incident was what coined the word piggypiggy. And I've been running into piggypiggy moments ever since.

Society fires us up to get piggypiggy with it. It's the "first come, first served" mentality we've all grown up with that makes us feel that we need to fight for what we feel we deserve. And for people like my grandparents who grew up during The Depression, free apples might have induced some serious excitement, but that's because they were hungry and had hungry relatives to help feed. But this is not about true hunger, it's about the competition that's born from greed.

You could own three bottom drawers full of ugly printed t-shirts that are being used as car towels, but go to a sports event where they start shooting t-shirts out of a t-shirt gun, and you'll run over an elderly man with an oxygen tank to claim a free shirt you'll never wear because it's too small. And do you want to know why that shirt is too small? Because you're the same guy who shoves his way in front of others to eat the free guacamole and stale chip samples at the grocery store. It's about winning. But what what are you winning?

And notice that the definition of "piggypiggy" includes what happens to us when we fight for something that's not free. The most heinous example that comes to mind is "The Running of the Brides," where women would trample each other as they made a mad dash into Filene's Basement to snag bargain basement bridal gowns. The stores finally closed (probably because of the liability), but the following image is a prime example of piggypiggyness in action. It not only captures the sheer fervor induced by such an event, it also reminds us that while everyone is competing for a dress they'll wear once, it's also cleverly disguised as some kind of a fitness event. Nice sponsorship, Slim-Fast!

I'm constantly reminding my kids not to go after the last piece of bread in the bread basket without asking if anyone else would like it first. But guess what? After doing that for years, my kids actually ask if someone wants the last piece of bread before taking it. I'm expecting this to transfer outside of my home, so that when my kids have dinner with other families, the parents will be stupefied by my children's manners. My husband, one of the least piggypiggy people I know, leads by example, and shows our kids that you should open doors and let people go in front of you. We know our kids face competition on a daily basis, but we try to instill that life is not always about being first and winning, but enjoying what it feels like to step back and have a little grace. Hopefully, when my kids have kids, they will teach my grandchildren not to be piggypiggy. And hopefully, they won't embarrass themselves and use this expression until it goes viral and becomes part of our modern-day lexicon, because I'm pretty certain my youngest daughter thinks that piggypiggy is an actual word.

But judge not lest Ye be judged, because just this week my coworker and I were walking back to our office after grabbing coffee, and we passed a friendly hippie selling organic fruits and veggies outside a little restaurant. He had fresh peaches, and held one in his hand and offered it to my friend, and said, "Take it. It's free!"

As my coworker, who is also a close friend whom I adore, took the peach into her hand, I felt a sudden primal urge to knock her to the ground to get a peach of my own. I wanted one of those peaches, and I wanted it to be free! But I thought better of it, not because I reminded myself that a lady never succumbs to her piggypiggy urges, but because I don't eat hairy foods.

So perhaps I shouldn't worry about passing along any wisdom to my children until I've learned to control my own piggypiggy desires. But if the next time the hippie fruit and veggie vendor is passing out imitation bacon bits, stay the hell out of my way.