That Doritos Ultrasound Commercial

I admit it:  I laughed out loud at the Doritos ultrasound commercial during the Super Bowl yesterday.  Any guy who’s been to a sonogram appointment would like the set-up, because even the most disheveled slacker would never dream of taking a bag of Doritos to munch on while the doctor is showing you live pictures of the soon-to-be newest member of the family.  The idea that the baby was aware of the Doritos and wanted some is just a funny concept.  And the ending caught me totally by surprise.

I didn’t think about the commercial again until I read some articles this morning showing that the commercial has become the latest focus of the abortion debate.  NARAL Pro-Choice America sent out a tweet saying that the ad was “using #antichoice tactic of humanizing fetuses & sexist tropes of dads as clueless & moms as uptight.”  And the pro-lifers then came out to depict the commercial as a strong pro-life statement.

Really, people?  Pregnancy and childbirth and new babies used to be the source of a lot of great humor.  There was a classic episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob Petrie is convinced that Baby Petrie wasn’t their child and was switched at birth with Baby Peters — setting up one of the funniest moments in TV sitcom history, shown below.  I’d hate to think that political sensibilities are now going to make that area out of bounds.

Sigmund Freud purportedly said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”  C’mon, people — sometimes a funny, silly commercial is just a funny, silly commercial, not some momentous political statement.  Can we please lighten up a bit?

Farewell To A Friend

I lost a good friend today, and the world is a meaner, sorrier place because of it.

Jocelyn Prewitt-Stanley, left, and Alycia Broz

Her name was Jocelyn Prewitt-Stanley.  She died from complications related to the birth of her first child, Emmerson — a child that she and her husband Ted dearly wanted.

Jocelyn was a lawyer at our firm.  I first worked with her when she was in our Cleveland office and had the misfortune to get a project from me.  When she moved to Columbus a few years later, I began to work with her more and more.  She was a fine trial lawyer, a hard worker, a good thinker, and a skilled advocate who was justifiably proud of the good results she achieved for clients.  When I had to assemble a dedicated “core team” to work on matters for an important client, I chose Jocelyn because I knew she would do a great job — and she did.

Of course, being a good lawyer was only a tiny fraction of what made Jocelyn a wonderful person.  No one should be defined solely by their work, and Jocelyn surely wasn’t.  She possessed a deep and indefinable serenity — yet she also had one of the great guffaws you could ever hope to hear.  She had a marvelous sense of humor, and when she became animated while telling a war story, the fingers on her hands splayed wide and her eyes lit up.  She had a dazzling smile and a dazzling personality to match.  She was active in charities and professional organizations.  She loved dogs and happily advised me, all too frequently, on how to better train the canine miscreants of the Webner household.

After we had worked together on several occasions, Jocelyn asked me to be her mentor.  I accepted with pleasure, and Jocelyn became the senior member of our merry band of mentees.  Although I technically was the mentor, I’m quite confident that I learned far more from Jocelyn than she ever learned from me.  I admired her candor and appreciated her trust, and was grateful for her patience as she listened to my side of the issues we discussed.  She worked tirelessly to help me see things from a different perspective, and she succeeded.  As I mentioned, she was a very effective advocate.

The world is a beautiful place, but it also can be inexpressibly cruel.  When an occasion of great joy like the birth of a child arrives, it is unimaginable that death might also be lurking around the corner.  Those of us who are religious may be able to find comfort in faith; the rest of us can only rail at the gross, cosmic injustice of a fate that snatches away a person like Jocelyn much, much, much too soon — and also be thankful that we had the privilege of getting to know her, even for a short period.

My heart breaks for the loss experienced by Ted, by Jocelyn’s family and Ted’s family, and most of all for the void left for little Emmerson, who will never get to know the mother who was so very ready to shower her new baby with all the love she could muster.

Babymoons, Push Gifts, And Other Novel Pregnancy-Related Cultural Developments

There hasn’t been a pregnancy in Webner House for more than two decades.  A lot has changed, apparently, since Russell greeted the world back in 1988.

Yesterday I went to lunch with two young female colleagues, one of whom is in her second trimester.  They talked about “babymoons,” whether she expected a “push gift,” and other topics that made me feel like I had been dropped into an alternate world where people speak what seems to be English but the words have no meaning.

It turns out that a “babymoon” is not a reference to a part of fetal anatomy, but rather a honeymoon-like trip that an expectant couple takes before the life-changing birth of their first child.  That sounds like a good idea to me, although if Kish and I had known what the immediate weeks after childbirth would be like our babymoon probably would have focused less on romance and more on racking up as much sleep as possible.  A “push gift,” on the other hand, is a somewhat crass term for a present the mother receives from her fellow parent to compensate for the pain of labor and childbirth.  No word, however, on whether the other parent receives any gift to acknowledge the challenges involved in living for months with a hormone-charged being who might burst into tears at any moment for no readily apparent reason.

What else is new in pregnancy?  Well, thanks to Demi Moore and her famous Vanity Fair cover photo, more pregnant women are having naked photos taken, some at weekly intervals to track their progress, and then posting them on on Facebook and other social media websites.  It’s also apparently popular to take a plaster casting of the pregnant woman’s belly, the better to preserve her condition, in all its three-dimensional glory, for posterity.

I can’t imagine our doing any of that stuff, but then our grandparents undoubtedly would have thought it was weird that we were practicing breathing techniques and back rubs at Lamaze classes, that Kish was wearing anything other than black tent-like garments intended to mask the fact of pregnancy, and that I would want to be in the delivery room when the big moment finally arrived.  How people deal with pregnancy seems like one of those areas where there have been quiet, but profound, changes in our social and cultural mores.