The Backstory: Gaza, Benghazi, the fiscal cliff and no Twinkies

There actually isn’t much of a backstory to Friday’s column except to note that it had been overcast for several days, I was trying to meet a deadline while stopping to do iron-on patches for a Girl Scout sash (not for me) and, while looking for something in the pantry noticed my granddaughter had eaten all the Hostess Cupcakes I hid there. For those new to the backstory, my granddaughter is seven and has lived with me for nearly four years. I’m part of a growing minority known as the single grandparent.

When doing a column that is borderline whiny, I run the risk of sounding like a forlorn musician doing a “paid my dues” song from the road. It’s hard to feel that sorry for them since they make huge amounts of money, stay in 5-star hotels and have beautiful groupies throwing themselves at their feet. The only thing thrown at me is an occasional temper tantrum. So, iron in one hand and a laptop in the other, I wrote from the heart, or what’s left of it after years of eating sugary snacks.

The real backstory here is how hard it is to come to terms with the disappearance of icons from our youth. It seems that we just manage to grow up and figure out how things work when everything changes on us. It’s like the story of Sisyphus – just as we get almost there, we have to start again. That in turn begs the question, how do you reinvent yourself when you’re still trying to figure out how to invent yourself in the first place? The world is a harsh mistress. Okay, okay – that was a cheap rip off of the title of Robert Heinlein’s book, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress,” I am so ashamed…

So what about Hostess? Honestly I don’t eat much of their stuff anymore, it makes my teeth hurt. I get it for the kid at the discount bakery with the day old bargains. “Day old” means nothing to a Hostess product since most of them have a half-life approaching that of plutonium. In fact, when future archaeologists start digging things up a thousand years from now, if they find any Hostess Twinkies they will probably still be edible.

The other item of note is the way some people are now shouting that the union is what killed Hostess. I’m not a big fan of modern unions, but seriously? What killed Hostess was a bad business model, products considered unhealthy by modern consumers (except me apparently) and increased competition from companies that make snacks from granola and tofu. Apparently the Hostess marketing crew failed to reinvent itself, or notice that people who are willing to pay nearly $4.00 for a cup of coffee are not very likely to use it to wash down a chocolate Ding Dong.

My grandfather used to say “times change” whenever I ¬†approached him with questions about the world. He didn’t claim to be original, he just used to say that all the time and never explained what he meant. It was his pat answer to everything and I didn’t understand it until I reached the age where I had to reinvent myself for the umpteenth time. Times change and that is not necessarily good or bad, it just happens. The good or bad part depends on us and what we make of it. That’s not easy to explain to a kid, so when my granddaughter asked why she would never get Hostess Cupcakes again, all I could think to tell her was, “times change.”

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