In the grocery store the other day, I was debating whether to buy a box of Hannah Montana breakfast cereal just for laughs. I even called up Susan and described the package and said I would be bringing it home, unless she preferred a box of the Smorz cereal that was stocked alongside. Hannah, who couldn’t be more darling, looks back over her right shoulder on the box, and she has four spangly chevrons glued to the corner of her eye and an enormous sparkling ring on one finger of her right hand, which grasps a glittery microphone. She was gazing beyond a bowl of her cereal in order to stare into my eyes. The cereal is billed as “Multi-grain secret identity cereal.” It’s revealed as red and blue sugar pops, but maybe they change color or shape when mysteriously activated by milk. I do prefer biscuits of the Wheat Chex variety but could’ve made an exception here. Red dye is listed as the sixth-leading ingredient, after corn, oats, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and salt. I do love my red dye! But I didn’t put a box of Hannah Montana cereal into the cart. Instead, I moved along feeling blessed and reflecting that Hannah must get a great sense of achievement from having her own cereal without even needing to clear a minimum height in the pole vault, like Bob Richards, who was on Wheaties boxes for ages, or be a dual-sport sensation, á la Bo Jackson.
A couple of aisles later, there were two girls, probably around 18, maybe 20, and the taller of them had legs four inches in diameter. My thighs—I just measured them—are 6.5 inches in diameter. She wore a heavy coat, so I couldn’t see her torso, but judging by the reeds she was walking around on, she’d been starving herself for a long, long time. I wanted to go up to her and say, “Eat! Here, let’s open some of this food on the shelf and start feeding you! Afterwards, you should go past all the little stations where they’re giving out samples. And I don’t want to see you heading to the bathroom later to puke it all out.” She wore skin-tight jeans, and I wondered if they’d had to be altered to get that way, because nobody makes jeans specifically for anorexics, do they? Maybe Liz Airborne. She also wore boots with four-inch heels. With a big mane of dyed-blonde hair, she really was horrific. The inexplicable thing is that, with so many problems in the world that are solvable, why would she resolve herself to be stricken by famine? She shouldn’t be allowed in the grocery store. People like her should be screened out. The greeter should just say, “Sorry, bad for business, back to your car. The last time you came in here, sales fell by twelve percent. You make people feel guilty.” Although if the 250-pound lady pushing along her cart in the main aisle and eating a cupcake from the bakery department felt guilty, it didn’t show.