When fictional children grow up

by winemama

Harry Potter and the curse of middle age: should fictional children ever grow up?

The best children’s books celebrate the innocence and joy of childhood. They capture and preserve it. Do we really want to know that Just William became an accountant or that Charlie sold his chocolate factory to Nestlé and took up golf? Speaking personally, I felt a sense of betrayal when we glimpsed Harry as an adult at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was reminded of a wonderful film, Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between, which is as much about childhood as it is about love. At the end, the youthful Leo, played by Dominic Guard, is transformed into the elderly, ghost-like Michael Redgrave. “Leo, you’re all dried up inside,” he’s told and he doesn’t disagree. That’s what growing up can do to you. It’s what children’s books fight against.

Thoughts about seeing favorite characters as grown-ups?
Do you enjoy seeing this peek into the future, or does it ruin the magic?

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180 thoughts on “When fictional children grow up

  1. And I started off with a post on the wrong page. Sigh.
    Good morning!

    I loved it when Bill Watterson starting drawing Calvin as the dad to his own little terror, but I can’t stand the ways little Calvin is being used as the stand in for brattiness, like the decal on so many pick ups of Calvin peeing with a mean look on his face. It makes me sad to see them cut out the wonderful innocence and joy in that cartoon.
    Do children of anyone here read 39 Clues? It’s progressed into a couple of new series, and the main characters, Dan and Amy, have aged through the series. Fine with me, even if they one day get to be adults. The books are written by multiple authors, but they adhere very tightly to guidelines about who the characters are, their traits, etc. That’s the only kind of case I can think of where it’s ok for one author to pick up someone else’s characters. If Mark Twain had written about Tom, Huck, and Becky as adults, it wouldn’t worry me, but I’d rather not see someone else try their hand at it.

  2. I loved the strip For Better or For Worse, and one of the things I loved about it was that it happened in sort of real time – everyone was getting older each year.

  3. I did not like Calvin and Hobbes. I thought Calvin was way beyond brattiness. There was something wrong with that kid. My DD knows a kid like that at her afterschool program. He is obnoxious to everyone and is hated by all. I think he has some kind of emotional disability, and I thought Calvin did too.

  4. On the flip side, The Family Circus is preserved in time. The mom’s hairdo and stirrup pants have not changed since about 1969 or so. They remind me of families I babysat for in the 70’s – sort of Christian oriented, stable, nice, family oriented, bland people. I still read the strip for that sense of nostalgia

  5. Mooshi, if you’re looking at the way people use Calvin, I’d agree. But spend an afternoon with one of the books and I bet you’ll see “the rest of the story”.

  6. I love Calvin and Hobbes. It wasn’t a documentary about an actual boy. It was about human nature.

  7. I’ve read a lot of the Calvin books. I just didn’t see the charm. The kid was completely unlikeable and didn’t seem very happy.

  8. And when Calvin grew up, he probably turned into the annoying angst filled teen in Catcher in the Rye :-)

  9. I love For Better or For Worse. I “grew” up with Elizabeth. I also love that the author returned to the beginning and started over.

    I like to see when characters grow up. Like Percy Jackson… does he get the happy ever after with Annabeth? Do they have kids?

    We have the new HP book, but haven’t cracked it yet. It’s DH’s so I won’t get it until he’s done. I’m excited to read it.

  10. When the show first aired, I was the exact age as Bart Simpson. Although there have been a few episodes that look into the future (and with independent outcomes on each), he’s still nine years old, and now I’m Homer’s contemporary. But what’s amusing is how the characters’ bios have to sometimes evolve to fit the current years, or they just ignore what they’ve done in the past and change them. For example, Principal Skinner was a late-30’s Vietnam vet when the show started, and he’s presumably the same age as Homer and Marge. In other episodes, Homer is a toddler at Woodstock with his hippie mother and grumpy father, but his father’s also a WWII vet. Sometimes Homer and Marge were dating obviously in the 70s, but 20 seasons later, they did a backward-looking episode that had them dating in a parody of the 1990s.

  11. I prefer the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bart Simpson idea of them never really aging.

    Obviously, it’s harder to do with actual people. Sort of like how Modern Family is going to end up like Dallas, with us wondering why the Dunphy family is still all living in the same house.

  12. Bart was supposed to be the main focus, maybe like a Calvin, but they soon realized that Homer was much more ripe for humor.

    Personally, I can’t get enough of Mr. Burns:

  13. I only got through the first four Harry Potter books (I think that may have been all that were out when I read them). My oldest is reading them now so maybe I’ll go back to them once she’s done. I guess I probably don’t want to see where characters end up as adults – I remember being so disappointed by the Wonder Years finale when Kevin and Winnie don’t end up together.

  14. I haven’t read the new HP yet, I’m on the wait list at the library, I have only heard good things about it from my friends, I can’t wait!

  15. Obviously, it’s harder to do with actual people. Sort of like how Modern Family is going to end up like Dallas, with us wondering why the Dunphy family is still all living in the same house.

    That’s a big reason why the Simpsons has been on for 25 years and is still going strong – the kids, never age. Live action shows always run into trouble as the the kids grow up.

    And Full House took the cake for having everyone living in the same house.

  16. The Simpsons is a great show, haven’t kept up on the new seasons, I catch reruns sometimes. Is it on Netflix?

    I never would have thought it would have been on so long when it aired and I was a kid.

  17. I love Calvin and Hobbes. I never found him to be unlikable, and he loved his Hobbes dearly. I could relate to a lot of his antics and emotions. My favorite were the snow scenes.

    The Simpsons are great because they don’t age. I would hate to see Bart as a dad in his late 30s.

  18. I kind of liked seeing Harry and crew as adults. I think it was just to let us know it was “happily ever after” in that they all made it to adulthood. I think it also gave a feeling that even when extraordinary things happen, life still goes on.

    I liked For Better or For Worse for the same reason as well.

  19. WM – My eldest really likes it, so our DVR is set to record whatever Simpsons it sees and keep five of them. I think it gets them from FX. But the thing is, it’s ALWAYS recording (and deleting) a Simpsons, so we might pick one of the five to watch, and then the next evening, there are five entirely different ones.

    But so often, I have to decide whether to pause it and explain “That’s actually funny because it’s a parody of _____ ” or just let it go. I remember my Dad laughing at it and doing the same thing.

  20. Milo, there were numerous times when I’d watch an old movie for the first time and think “that’s what they were parodying on the Simpsons!’

  21. It’s on the FX website too, but you have to sign in with your cable tv acount to get to them all. My youngest loves The Simpsons.

    My daughter read The Cursed Child on Sunday and she seemed very pleased with it. Of course it’s a book-length script, not a novel, so that makes for a different kind of read.

  22. “there were numerous times when I’d watch an old movie for the first time and think “that’s what they were parodying on the Simpsons!’”

    Yes, definitely that, too. The factory scene at the end of Officer and a Gentleman comes to mind.

  23. Milo – My oldest loves Teen Titans Go. This week they had a parody of Gilligan’s Island. It was hilarious. My kids thought it was funny, but they had no idea why I thought it was so funny. I didn’t bother explaining what Gilligan’s Island was.

  24. There was an ALF parody of Gilligan’s Island (that actually used Gilligan’s Island actors) that I was familiar with (we would tape ALF on VHS to watch several times) before I’d ever seen Gilligan’s Island.

  25. I loooooooove Calvin and Hobbes. I never saw my dad laugh so hard until he cried except reading those Calvin books. DH’s dad does the same thing when he is reading them to our kids now. So funny! :)

    I don’t mind the time jumps at the end of Harry Potter or other series – nice to see the characters turning out in the happy-ever-after endings. I do think it works better as a short coda and not as another book/extended part of the story.

  26. Those who like the Simpsons parodies might also enjoy Phineas and Ferb reruns when they do paeans. I liked their West Side Story homage a lot.

  27. Finn – another fun one was the “detective” stories… they paid homage to film noir and CSI: Miami in 15 seconds… that was definitely slid in for the parents.

    And I love “Love Handel” as their homage to aging 80s rockers. And, of course, Lindana. We had to explain that to our niece.

  28. Speaking of cartoons, do any of your kids love AdventureTime? Mine, even the high schooler, really like that series.

    You have no idea how many comic compilation books we have in our house. Peanuts, Doonesbury (a series in which characters sort of age, but not in real time), Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, Get Fuzzy, the Oatmeal, – they have it all. The kids inhale these things.

  29. How about Mafalda? She would not work if she grew up.

    I thought the HP script was great. My 3 sons went to a midnight party and got it and we had all read it by the next day. I agree with the article’s author who said this, ” I’ve always admired JK Rowling’s boldness in ageing her characters. What makes Harry, Hermione and Ron unique and compelling is much more than their youth: Harry Potter lives in such an extraordinarily detailed alternative universe that adulthood brings new challenges. In some ways, the world itself is more compelling than the characters, so keeping the magical background is what keeps the stories –and the characters – forever young”

  30. I liked the books where Anne of Green Gables grew up (Anne’s House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside) as well as the books (can’t remember titles) where Meg of A Wrinkle In Time grew up. Those were two of my favorite characters and they both had large families- perhaps part of why I imagined myself with a large family.

  31. WCE, the Betsy-Tacy series is another good one for following the characters as they grow up.

  32. ” I’ve always admired JK Rowling’s boldness in ageing her characters. What makes Harry, Hermione and Ron unique and compelling is much more than their youth: Harry Potter lives in such an extraordinarily detailed alternative universe that adulthood brings new challenges. In some ways, the world itself is more compelling than the characters, so keeping the magical background is what keeps the stories –and the characters – forever young”

    I agree with this, I was just talking to my inlaws. big HP fans also, about there are endless possibilities if Rowling wants to write more stories in the Hogwarts world

  33. My kids, for whatever reason, despise Foxtrot. I don’t think I have actually read it myself.

  34. Loved, loved, loved Calvin and Hobbes. Youngest DS learned to read with Calvin, and the guys have used C&H lines as references, right up there with the Godfather and Star Trek TOS. “No cause for alarm…no need to panic…I just want a bucket to hold some…stuff”

  35. My younger DS loves comics, especially Calvin and Hobbes. He draws them all of the time and comes up with fictional characters to tell his own story, many in the Big Nate/Wimpy Kid vein. Phineas and Ferb is one of my favorite cartoons and love that my kids have gotten into Animaniacs. I always liked Pinky and the Brain shorts.

  36. HM, I never read comics, except for maybe when people post Dilberts at work, but 1:12 was a really good review that I would not have been able to reproduce at my old age. Although I’m not entirely sold right now on the very bottom-left square, where it becomes 20*x. Finn?

  37. DH loves The Simpsons, and let the boys watch it from a very early age. As DD and Milo noted, they have recognized numerous cultural references AFTER the fact. When we first watched Lawrence of Arabia, all three burst out with “that was on the Simpsons!!!” as the characters walked up the sand dunes.
    There are actually dozens of movie references on that show, but most of those movies aren’t suitable for children. http://www.chimesfreedom.com/2016/02/29/movie-tributes-on-the-simpsons/

  38. I like when fictional characters don’t age

    doesn’t work too well with live actors, I used to watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and it got to be irksome that she was in HS so long (and still a teenager) when the actress was 35

  39. Just wait for your kids to be old enough to watch The Shining!

    DH and I still call it the “Shin-ning” (short i, not long i)

  40. “DH and I still call it the “Shin-ning” (short i, not long i)”

    “You mean ‘The Shining’?”

    “Quiet, lad! Do ya want to get sooouuuued?

  41. before our move, we had recorded some Simpsons on the DVR and let DS watch some

    he is really too young

    it would be one thing if he watched an episode once, but he wanted to keep watching the same episode over and over and would throw a fit if you deleted it

  42. one day we turned on the TV and one of those adult cartoons were on, Family Guy or American dad, he wanted to watch it, had to tell him it looked like a kids show but it is made for grown ups

    on the other hand, when he was about 3 we used to watch reruns of King of the Hill with him :)

  43. Yeah, I once watched a bit of Archer — hadn’t seen it before but had heard it was funny — with kids. It’s not a good kid show.

  44. what age would you /did you let your kids watch the simpsons?

    common sense media says 10-12

  45. Oh, Dilbert, I forgot about Dilbert. Yes, the kids love Dilbert.

    Also, The Far Side.

  46. This isn’t really a comic strip but more of a graphic novel: My DD is passionate about Usagi. She owns many of the books – and fortunately for her, there are many more :-) She even asked the librarian at our town library if they could acquire some
    http://www.usagiyojimbo.com/

  47. I was somewhere around the 8-10 year age when Simpsons came out. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, and have only really watched episodes here and there as an adult. I wouldn’t let my son watch that show until 10-12 years old.

    But I’m not a judge. I was allowed to watch Stephen King’s IT when I was about 8 years old, and Jaws around the same age.

  48. My kids like Phibeas & Ferb and Gumball.
    Growing up my I read Archie comics, Richie Rich and Dennis the Menace. Sometimes we got Tintin and Aestrix.

  49. yeah I’ve mentioned before that mom let us watch violent horror films from a young age, but sexual material was worse in her eyes than violence

  50. Me at 2.00 pm -posted quick.
    Comics were like contraband in the home country at the time. All the Archie digests were worn from being passed around. My friends who were good at art spent days doodling images of Archie, Jughead and Veronica in the schoolbooks.

  51. and here is my MIL story for the day, she said shows like Loud House and Star Vs Forces of Evil (I think they are both rated 7) were too grownup for DS, said are you sure this isn’t for adults?

    I said “Family Guy is an example of one for adults”

    “only perverts” she replied

  52. I read Archie as a kid too, and my daughter likes it now.

    Did anyone else see this?

  53. winemama,

    Oldest DS watched the Simpsons when he was 2. The nights I had choir practice and left him in the care of DH and my younger brother. (They cut him off when he started repeating the lines. But the damage was done.)

  54. I usually knock about two years off the Common Sense Media recommendations, but I read the text to see what they find objectionable. It depends – they list Star Wars: Return of the Sith as 12+ (and I believe that it is PG13). I understand why as it is probably the scariest and darkest of the movies, but I felt fine letting DS watch it at 7 because he had already seen the others. They don’t seem to bother him much since the world is so fictional. Yet, there are other violent/action movies that I wouldn’t let him watch because they are more realistic, and I know that they would scare him. I would let 8yo DS watch The Simpsons, but he’s not interested.

    I find it harder to decide when I should intervene on You Tube. Is Dude Perfect age-appropriate? It seems harmless from the ones that I’ve watched (they don’t swear or talk about sex), but I don’t watch every single video to vet them at this point. More disturbing is when he parrots the pre-roll ads from the videos.

    I loved FoxTrot. My mom is a huge For Better For Worse fan and used to send me physical clippings of the comic when I was in college/20’s. Now she emails them to me.

    Not being a HP fan, I don’t

  55. Oops:

    Not being a HP fan, I don’t have an opinion about the “coda” but it looked rather sweet in that clip. I do like the closure sometimes as long as it is more of an epilogue.

  56. What movies did you see at an age when you probably shouldn’t have? For me, it was probably Robocop (age 7 or 8), and really only because the shooting/torture scene that provided the police corpse to create Robocop is so disturbing and it was in the back of my mind for a long time. There is plenty of other killing in the movie, but it’s shoot, scream, fall, and dead, so not a big deal. And even the young corporate VP snorting lines of coke off the hookers’ tits before his own murder went right over my head.

    So 7 was kind of young for all that. But when my Mom was away for a few days, and the nearby convenience store also offered VHS rentals, it seemed like a good choice to my Dad. Good enough that I asked for, and received, my own copy for Christmas that year. And when we watched it at my friend’s house (over and over and over), he was the one who would leave the room during the bad murder scene.

  57. On the ages for shows, we let our 14 and 12 year olds watch Archer, so we’re pretty much in the anything goes category. Our feeling is we’d rather have them watch stuff like that with us so we can answer their questions and explain things when needed instead of sneaking around and doing it.

  58. “I was the youngest and my older brother loved (still does) horror films”

    This is the dynamic I witness in a lot of families. The older kids watch something the younger ones shouldn’t, but do because, at the time, probably only 1 TV, and the strategy of picking your battles.

    I have a laundry list of things I shouldn’t have watched when I did. And some of them have been permanently etched in my head.

  59. yep, one TV my entire childhood

    and if Dad was off work (he worked 2nd shift), he picked the show

  60. Milo,

    There was a movie about the Holocaust and a group of people were trying to escape the Warsaw ghetto. They were in the sewers trying to hide and one lady had an infant with her. It began to cry and they heard the Nazis change direction so either the dad or the leader of the group held the baby under water till it died.

  61. Rhode, I thought that at the end of the series/book nine, Alex and his nanny actually were someplace where Mi6 actually could not find him.

    My kid is almost 14, has liked Family Guy for a couple years. The other day he was watching the episode where Peter turns AA into a drinking club and there’s a whole “Mr Booze” song & dance number when Joe checks it out. It’s as modeled on “Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool” which got me watching Music Man songs from the 1961 movie. They’re great. My favorite is Marrion the Librarian. Couldn’t get the boy to watch any of it.

    I’ve never been into horror movies. ‘Saac watched one at a neighbor’s when he was in about second grade. He was scared for a couple weeks, hasn’t watched any since, but he reads books like the Shining.

  62. Nightmare on Elm Street when I was about 8. I watched it at a friend’s house, and I had to sleep on the floor of my parents’ room for weeks after that. I didn’t watch horror movies for a long, long time after that.

  63. When I was just out of law school, so a total grownup, PBS aired recently discovered footage from the liberation of a concentration camp. The reviews and the opening credits warned of the graphic content but I ignored them. That was a big mistake. I could not get those images out of my head, and scenes such as the one Rhett describes resurfaced often. So I have never been to the Holocaust Museum and I will not watch Schindler’s List. Those are the kinds of things I kept from my kids when they were young. The Simpsons and pretty much any tv comedy were not nearly so much of an issue for me.

  64. I am such a putz – I can’t watch anything scary or that involves a kid getting killed. I tried to watch that movie Syriana, which was pretty tedious anyway, but when they got to the scene where the kid is killed in the pool, I just walked out. I can’t deal with any of those zombie movies.

    When I was a kid, I couldn’t make it through Wizard of Oz because it was too scary. And I watched The Blob when I was 7 with a babysitter, and had nightmares for months.

    Bad Mommy moment: my DD wanted to bring her friends to see a movie for her birthday. And being a superhero fan, she chose that Avengers Civil War movie. I know it was PG13, not G, but I figured, it’s a comic book movie, right? Her friends are all 4th graders who read vampire novels, right? The group was mixed – several Japanese girls and some Americans. Later, I heard from one of the ever polite Japanese moms, “Oh thank you very much for bringing Natsuko to the movie. She was terrified”. She was not being sarcastic – I just don’t think her English was good enough to understand how this came off :-). The next time DD brought her Japanese friends to the movies, we chose a NICE movie – Secret Life of Pets.

  65. Wine’s MIL and Mooshi’s Japanese mom friend are cracking me up.

    DD’s entire Kung fu class just turned around to see why I am laughing so hard.

  66. When I was a kid, I couldn’t make it through Wizard of Oz because it was too scary.

    While I didn’t mind Wizard of Oz, I couldn’t watch Micheal Jackson’s Thriller video.

  67. Mooshi – here there seems to great adherence to the ratings by parents of kids. I find it weird when my kids check with me whether they are allowed to watch PG-13 movies. DD doesn’t want to watch movies with lots of violence, so we avoid those.
    My parents were very lax, but all of us were so enthralled by color TV and later VCR that my kids and even DH would be horrified at what I was allowed to watch.

  68. This has to do with yesterday;s shorts thread:

    I actually saw not one, but TWO cases of men in short shorts this evening! Both at the grocery store. One guy looked sort of like what you would expect – short shorts in tasteful off white, skinny ftted hipster shirt, dark blonde hair cut short on the sides with a big shock of hair side parted over his forehead. He was grabbing some cheese. Then I saw the second guy. He also had a pair of off white short shorts on. The guy was about 80, and the shorts clearly dated from about 1985. His skinny little legs stuck out as he shuffled through the checkout line. Did he pull them out from the attic after hearing they were newly fashionable, or had he simply never abandoned them?

  69. what age would you /did you let your kids watch the simpsons?

    common sense media says 10-12

    We have watched the Simpsons as a family forever, the youngest was probably 0-2 when we started.

    Rhett, I remember that scene in the Holocaust movie still.

  70. My family adores Foxtrot. Also Bloom County. The series where Bill the Cat’s brain was replaced by Donald Trump’s seems sort of prescient now. Bill the Cat ran for president, too.

  71. Mooshi, if you’re ever close to a Book Off store, you might want to check it out for possibly taking your DD.

    It’s a Japan-based used book store with locations throughout the US. We have a couple locations here, and my kids sometimes go to look at manga and anime.

  72. My phone and I are not getting along today. Actually I’m just being clumsy in general. After meeting teachers and getting school supplies lists, We went to Bahama Breeze. I meant to tell my son that when we go out to eat and especially when we go out with his grandparents, he should think of it as practice for professional situations. Instead, I managed to spill my water and Coke and his lemonade all in one swoop. The whole day has been like that.
    Anyway…
    Have any of you seen these personal frackers? They supposedly monitor stress. I’d like to know what they actually measure. https://www.bellabeat.com/urban

  73. Finn – I trusted the math, I just forgot the step where you actually have to integrate, and realized that’s why 30 becomes 30*x.

    Barely on topic, this came up at dinner. In Back to the Future 3, a key plot point is that they need to hijack a 19th century steam locomotive and burn its fire well past its rated limits in order to push the Delorean to 88 mph. That’s because when Marty traveled into 1885, it was in the middle of a Cavalry/Indian chase, and a stray arrowhead punctured and drained the car’s fuel tank. Doc gravely assessed that gasoline stations wouldn’t be around for another xx years.

    That all made enough sense 20 years ago, but now that my kids are obsessed with it and discuss it constantly, I’m wondering why a scientist who was able to fabricate in 1885 a working refrigerator to make iced tea can not distill a gallon or two of gasoline from crude oil.

  74. “Did he pull them out from the attic after hearing they were newly fashionable, or had he simply never abandoned them?” Maybe he just doesn’t gaf what you or anybody else thinks. I don’t understand the desire to comment on other peoples appearances any more than I can comprehend people thinking that they will be judged if their house leaves the house wearing something odd. If I had my shirt on backwards or had grabbed navy tights when I meant to wear black, I’d appreciate someone pointing it out to me, but I cannot imagine accepting someone else thinking that they were the boss and so should determine what I should wear. I also cannot fathom being attracted to someone who I had to dress the way one does a child. If he had enough sartorial sense to get you, then he probably has enough.

    I make a huge distinction between horror films where awful things have been made up because it is supposedly fun to see others enduring them (or dying) and knowing the reality of human cruelty and inhumanity to others. One is a (questionable) pastime. The other is part of our responsibility as citizens of a democracy. An example: if you refuse to face the reality of concentration camps, then it is a lot easier to contemplate rounding people up in our country.

  75. “Milo, the math looks correct to me.”
    Bill Amends, the Foxtrot cartoonist, was a physics major at Amherst, which I understand counts as an HSS around here. So I like to think his math is correct.

  76. ^spouse leaves the house.

    Why would anyone want to distill oil into gasoline in 1885?

  77. I can’t believe that along with DDs uniforms we ended up with a uniform for her doll too. I blame DS for that. He spied the doll uniform and showed it to DD. Anyway, DD is very excited to have her mini me.

  78. Because, Cheerful Sunshine, you have to get the car to 88 mph before the flux capacitor will work.

  79. Saacnmama, my comment was in reference to this morning’s thread on whether male short shorts are actually fashionable or not. I was more aiming at Rhett than anyone else. I probably would never have noticed either except that I had Rhett’s photo of the Easter egg colored short shorts on my mind, and it just seemed funny – the juxtaposition between the two examples, especially since I hadn’t seen short shorts on a guy in about 20 years.

  80. Everyone stop saying “short shorts”. I have had that stupid old Nair commercial running through my head for two days now.

  81. “why a scientist who was able to fabricate in 1885 a working refrigerator to make iced tea can not distill a gallon or two of gasoline from crude oil.”

    Do we know that he couldn’t do that? Perhaps is was more a matter of not having any crude readily available.

  82. “flux capacitor”

    Is there any other kind of capacitor? This term seems redundant.

  83. “Amherst, which I understand counts as an HSS around here.”

    Yes, I’ve been told it’s up there with Williams and Swarthmore.

  84. Perhaps, Finn. They were in kind of a hurry to leave before he got shot.

    I thought I remembered reading that, originally, Rockefeller was refining crude to make kerosene for lamps. Gasoline was just a useless byproduct that was thrown away.

  85. Thanks a lot RMS. It wasn’t in MY head until you put it there just now.
    “Who’s got short shorts?”

    What I want to know is why THAT stupid song pops right into my head without effort, but I cannot remember the name of the person walking towards me in the grocery store. Whom I met last week.

  86. “Did he pull them out from the attic after hearing they were newly fashionable, or had he simply never abandoned them?”

    If he was 80, then it’s surely the latter. I have a picture of my dad, holding 23yo DS as a newborn, and wearing a shirt that is still in his closet.
    Well, it WAS in his closet. I removed several shirts of that vintage (one with EIGHT visible holes) and replaced them with six new shirts from Target that cost $80 total. My dad has no concept of how inexpensive clothing is now.

  87. Mooshi, yes, I realized the background. In the same conversation, two women said things about how people would think poorly of them if their husbands wore xyz out of the house. I also mentioned that in my comment. I realize that I’m about the only person on here who isn’t partnered up for the long haul or who hasn’t had a long-term marriage, but even if that was different, I doubt I’d change my thinking about other peoples’ clothing or opinions of my attire. That’s part of why I posted the link the other day asking lawyers to comment on judges insisting attorneys wear very specific things in their courtrooms. I understand the requirement for professional attire but the nit-picking surprised me. I don’t know if the non-response meant they have never encountered such a thing or that it’s so commonplace they didn’t feel the question was worthy of a response., or maybe they just didn’t feel like talking to me.

    If no one was using gas, then there wouldn’t be any reason to be interested in producing it, so even if people had the technology to distill crude oil, they wouldn’t happen to have a few barrels of gas or crude just sitting around. But I have not seen any Back to the Future movies past the first one, nor do I know the history of the discovery of the utility of gasoline. I assume there must’ve been some sort of back and forth between development of engines and methods of refining oil.

  88. “What I want to know is why THAT stupid song pops right into my head without effort, but I cannot remember the name of the person walking towards me in the grocery store. Whom I met last week.”

    Incessant repetition. That commercial dates back to the days before VCRs facilitated fast forwarding through the commercials, and also before wireless remote control facilitated muting of commercials.

  89. “Did he pull them out from the attic after hearing they were newly fashionable, or had he simply never abandoned them?”

    Well, fashion is cyclical, and some things never really go out of fashion.

    T-shirts, for example, aren’t really much different than they were when I was in college, so I can get away (I think) with wearing t-shirts dating back to my college days, at least the ones that aren’t full of holes and worn thin.

    After not skiing for about 20 years, we started back a couple years ago, and a lot of my ski clothes that I’d saved all that time still works fine, not just for me, but for DS, who now fits them. E.g, he has had no problems with wearing my old ski jacket, powder pants, and turtlenecks.

    I’ve also mentioned here before how DS has been using my old suit that I bought for job interviews as a senior in college. He likes it (I know because DW recently offered to get him another suit, and his reply is that he has one that’s fine), and IMO he looks much better in it than many of his debate competitors.

    And don’t underestimate how much less people care what other people think of them as they get older.

  90. I know the pop culture conversation has deteriorated when I start being able to follow it.

    The closest our family has gotten to fashion modeling was my FIL featured in camouflage waders and duck hat on the cover of Fishing and Hunting News.

  91. Cheerful, I haven’t had a judge specify anything about lawyers’ attire, but it would not surprise me if one did.

    I have given witnesses a lot of advice about what to wear, though :)

    The Easter egg shorts would not be on my list of suggested outfits. You do not want your clothes to be memorable.

  92. Scarlett, I did go to the Holocaust Museum here in Houston about 8-9 years ago, and I still cannot get some of those images and narrations out of my head. Truly horrifying. They were hiring an intern there this summer, but my DD wouldn’t apply because she did not think she could handle seeing those images over and over. And on a weird note, I saw that the Holocaust Museum in Washington actually had to ask people to stop catching Pokemon there.

  93. Why would anyone want to distill oil into gasoline in 1885?

    Karl Benz invented the stationary gasoline engine in 1879.

    Bertha Benz was able to go on the world’s first road trip in 1888 by buying fuel at pharmacies where it was sold as a cleaning solvent. So, one would assume it was available back then. Then again, Doc buying a tin of solvent wouldn’t make for much of a movie.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertha_Benz

  94. On easter egg shorts, y’all need to spend more time on the campus of any southern university on game day. That picture screams “Kappa Alpha pledge class.” Their dates are wearing school color sundresses with monogrammed cowboy boots.

  95. I liked the Frugalwoods recent post on food:

    http://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/08/01/what-does-a-frugal-person-eat/

    Her suggestions were very simple and cost-effective. I also thought that the idea of a regular rotation of meals (even if it’s a temporary or seasonal rotation, in their case) is a unique idea in our time, and maybe a novel throwback to previous generations. It definitely is appealing in terms of simplicity and minimizing the number of ingredients you’re shopping for and minimizing the amount of half-used items in your fridge and pantry that slowly rot for a year before getting tossed. I like it, and I want to move more to that. And if it makes dinners more boring and a little less appetizing, all the better!

    One tiny pet peeve is that I wish that so many women of her demographic did not always feel so obligated (as I perceive must be the case) to always specify that they like *dark* chocolate. It’s reflexive at this point. And milk chocolate is really, really good. But we’re supposed to pretend otherwise.

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/entertainment/dining/2015/03/30/milk-chocolate-chocolate-storybook-beaverdale-confections-easter-eggs/70568808/

  96. I love milk chocolate.

    Mom always did the weekly meal rotations. Chicken on Mondays, fish on Tuesdays, hamburger casserole on Wednesdays, etc. Always the same recipes. Always accompanied by a mountain of steamed frozen vegetables. I think that’s why I resist it. I have to remind myself that the food doesn’t have to be consistently horrible, just consistent.

  97. I absolutely love the idea of a regular rotation of meals, and your comment may inspire me to finally give this a serious try. I may do this for a 30-day challenge as I’ve found that to be an effective way to kick start good habits.

    I’m pretty sure we’ve had discussions about how some totebaggers do regular meal rotations. I’ve gotten into the habit of frequently eating a PBJ with milk for lunch, and it’s easy and filling.

    Speaking of food pet peeves, it annoys me when recipe instructions include a descriptive “good” for ingredients. As in “good” olive oil or “good” vanilla. As if I’m going to accidentally pull out my “just okay” olive oil by mistake and ruin the recipe.

  98. berries from our garden
    Bite me, and bite my high plains desert garden, Frugalwoods.
    Or let me give you a lecture about how unethical it is to buy bananas.

    I think I need more coffee.

  99. I think part of why I loved Stranger Things so much is because I grew up watching tons of horror/sci-fi from the late 70’s and 80’s

  100. RMS, did you have tuna noodle casserole too? And was your fish ever in the form of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks?
    Or maybe that was a Catholic 1970s thing.

  101. I finally made some calls to take care of some of the home projects. The first project is supposed to start today. I stayed home today to meet the tile guy, and he still hasn’t arrived to start the work. I really hate home renovations. My dream would be to be rich enough to have someone take care of all of this for me.

  102. “did you have tuna noodle casserole too? And was your fish ever in the form of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks?”

    Think of how much simpler and easier that would make things. Not that we don’t ever have fish sticks and steamed peas, but the idea that you could have that once a week and not feel like you’re somehow falling short.

  103. “My dream would be to be rich enough to have someone take care of all of this for me.”

    To the vast majority, that’s what the tile guy is already doing. It’s not like you’re out there mixing up a bucket of grout.

  104. This tile guy is actually someone that was a professional and started his own business because he didn’t want to work in an office any longer.

  105. Rotating meals is also called meal planning. You don’t have to use The Lady or Blue Apron or whatever. I happen to like The Lady because we had meal rotation. And I was bored to tears with my recipes. You also don’t have to buy the fancy ingredients. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve subbed in things I had or would use again.

    I find the Frugalwoods annoying, pretentious, and sanctimonious. “nascent frugal acolyte” just spare me.

    All that “how to save money on your food bill” stuff we do too. And I spend maybe $50 more a month than she does for 3 adults and a toddler who has the appetite of an adult. And I don’t even have to be sanctimonious about it.

  106. Milo – the frugalwoods’ meal rotation is made much simpler by her only eating about half of what a normal person eats. Thus, leftovers! ;) I can’t stand leftovers past 2 times around – it reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents would always eat “hash” on Sundays after church, which was everything from the week fried up in a pan together. Blechhhhh.

    Also, I like milk chocolate but only the European kind, not Hershey’s. Does that make me a snob? I also buy the giant bars of semisweet to chop into chunks when I make chocolate chip cookies – the Tollhouse chocolate chips are too sweet for me (but I do use those if I am feeling lazy).

  107. I hear you, Rhode. Maybe the only reason that I don’t find her so sanctimonious is that I don’t take her very seriously, which is obviously more dismissive. It’s like if you’re playing school with a five-year-old who’s trying her best to act like a very serious teacher, you’re not going to get annoyed because she’s being pedantic.

  108. “Also, I like milk chocolate but only the European kind, not Hershey’s. Does that make me a snob?”

    Maybe, maybe not. I like Hershey’s, but I think Ghiradelli’s tastes fancier. But it doesn’t make me NOT like Hershey’s any more than it doesn’t make me not like a Tootsie Roll.

  109. Maybe we should be more specific. I will eat nothing rather than eat the bar of plain Hershey’s or Kisses. BUT I will gladly take a piece of the chocolate Santa from Kinder.

  110. Milo,

    Interesting post by the frugalwoods with a lot of good points. We were invited to a friend’s beach house a few weeks ago and we took them out to dinner. We went to this beach town seafood place on the water, sort of like what you posted the other day, and it was amazingly good and cheap! Our friends had never been there before in the 10 years they’ve had the house. They just never go out.

    One of the other guests mentioned later that evening, “Can you imagine paying all that money to live here and never going out?” So, I said, “Well, that’s why they have the beach house and we don’t.” Which turned the conversation to: Is there anything you want such that it would be worth being more frugal about everything? The answer was no.

  111. I’m not a fan of Hershey’s plain choc bars (except on smores) but I do love Mr. Goodbar

    I prefer the “fancy” chocolate, Ghiradelli etc

  112. But if Hershey were all you reasonably had access to, you would probably eat the Hershey’s and truly enjoy it, and never be any the wiser. So it’s not as if you objectively dislike it. So maybe it is a little bit of snobbery that makes a person decide that as soon as he can acquire something better, he will purposely decide to no longer enjoy the lower item.**

    MMM’s certainly sanctimonious, but I enjoy his philosophizing about appreciating our incredible material comforts in an absolute sense.

    ** An exception would be when hipsters rediscover something otherwise pedestrian and well past its popularity peak, i.e. Pabst Blue Ribbon.

  113. “One of the other guests mentioned later that evening, “Can you imagine paying all that money to live here and never going out?” So, I said, “Well, that’s why they have the beach house and we don’t.” Which turned the conversation to: Is there anything you want such that it would be worth being more frugal about everything? The answer was no.”

    I think that’s the kicker here. They *enjoy* being that frugal. And maybe your beach house friends do as well. It may not be the case that they can only afford the beach house if they are frugal. That house may provide a really nice income when the owners aren’t using it.

  114. All chocolate is good chocolate. Except maybe artisanal chocolate and sardine and chili oil truffle made by hand in the Brooklyn apartment by a trans couple whose story is prominently displayed on the package.

  115. “An exception would be when hipsters rediscover something otherwise pedestrian and well past its popularity peak, i.e. Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

    I saw this when I visited Colorado this summer. PBR is on all the menus. DH got a kick out of drinking it–brought back memories.

  116. I don’t do meal rotation but during the school year I always plan and shop for the week, and I have a set of go-to meals that work on particular types of nights. So a night when we plan to swim in the evening, I would have tuna fish salad ready to go for sandwiches, and on a night when kids are coming home late from cross country meets or library clubs, I know make-your-own tacos whip up in a flash.

    I happen to love both tuna casserole AND Mrs Paul’s fish sticks. My DH also loves both. Back when the kids were little, and DH came home late from his weekly music practice, I would always heat up a supermarket pizza for the kids, and then have fish sticks with DH when he got home. Romantic, huh? But seriously, he always says he looked forwards to those fish sticks.

  117. So my parents have a beach house. This Spring, they spent something like $25,000 redoing the old screened porch. And the old porch wasn’t bad, but this new one, with a newly vaulted ceiling, and all the other details that my Mom designed, could be on the cover of Coastal Living.

    But when we were in Charleston (one of the greatest restaurant destinations in the country), and just the two of them were out walking around and got hungry for lunch, they wandered into Bubba Gump because my Dad likes their gumbo.

    It’s like Hershey’s, as I do like Bubba Gump’s big metal bowl of broth and boiled shrimp that goes over rice, but some people are into houses, and some people are into restaurants, and some are into cars…

  118. That house may provide a really nice income when the owners aren’t using it.

    They refuse to rent it due to the mom’s many neurosis. She also refuses to go to the beach and the house isn’t on the beach so she just drives 5 hours to sit in a different house….

  119. “Is there anything you want such that it would be worth being more frugal about everything? The answer was no”

    I disagree, or maybe I’m misunderstanding. I think the answer is ‘yes,’ and it’s whatever you already have. Because if you asked the beach house owners the same question, they would presumably answer ‘no,’ too, as they already have their beach house.

  120. Scarlett, we had both fish sticks and tuna casserole. The tuna casserole was made by using basic Tuna Helper, and then adding an extra can of tuna, extra frozen green peas, and curry powder. It actually isn’t bad. I’ve made it myself once in a long while. Mom started out by breading and “oven frying” sole, but gave up and switched to fish sticks. I love fish sticks. I can’t have either of those things anymore because of DH’s stupid diabetes and ultra-low-carb diet.

  121. Milo,

    I mean frugal in the sense of expending a considerable amount of your daily bandwidth on saving money.

  122. my doc recently prescribed me metformin (a diabetes medication but I am not diabetic) to help battle my hypoglycemia

    does anyone else take this?

  123. This weekend, I’m adding frozen fish sticks to my grocery list. Haven’t had them in ages.

  124. on the fish sticks idea, sometimes we open a bag of Tyson’s breaded chicken fingers and serve those with salad (and Buffalo Sauce for dipping, of course). I love that dinner.

  125. “Does anybody have a Soda Stream? Do you like it?”

    Yes, yes. And I was skeptical at first, but DW wanted it, so ever the romantic, I picked one up for her for Mothers Day.

    However, we’re really not crazy about the Soda Stream syrups. Their cola is never going to match Coca-Cola, so after a couple glasses, I stopped trying. I’ll probably throw away the rest of that syrup in two years.

    Instead we keep a few of these on hand:

    and flavor individual glasses. Also, instead of drinking straight Simply Limeade, or the like, we’ll cut it with half soda water, and actually prefer it that way.

    Really, you could do the same thing if you just wanted to buy cases of seltzer, but this is fun, and maybe more cost-effective.

  126. My DS2 wants a Soda Stream, so he keeps saying he will get me one for my birthday.

  127. Milo – in Charleston that would drive me insane. Near Bubba Gump is a plethora of amazing food and probably better gumbo. Or at least just as good.

    RMS – my friend has one. She loves it. She uses it to make seltzer (no flavoring). I’m not sure how much the cartridges cost vs. just buy seltzer in bulk or on sale. It uses your own water, or water of your choice if you go bottled. If you are partial to a specific taste of soda (like Coke or Pepsi) you may not be able to get the flavoring, so you’ll have to be OK with RC or some generic.

  128. I want to make fizzy ice tea, but that might be beyond the thing’s abilities.

  129. winemama – my husband takes metformin. It is the very mildest first prescribed medicine for type 2 diabetes and is often given to prediabetics as well. I am sure Ada can explain how it all works for hypoglecemia. ( His diet is controlled, but not rigidly like RMS’s husband, who has a different and more severe form of the disease.) I know that there are certain restrictions on alcohol consumption, but DH drinks at most 2 drinks a month, so he doesn’t have to think about it. It works as intended and he has no issues with it. My impression is that doctors like it because it pushes certain glucose and other screening tests into normal range (taking into account age and other medical conditions), and being out of range on those tests over a long period causes deterioration of organs and other health problems that are irreversible. Guidelines for the numerical flashpoints have been relaxed especially for the old old in recent years, but at your age they are taken very seriously.

  130. Rocky – It will work for that. All the SodaStream does is inject CO2 into its own reusable water bottles. You do with that whatever you want. I think in your case, you’d make really strong tea, and then cut it with the soda water.

  131. We dine on Van de Kamp’s fish filets here, not Mrs. Paul’s. They cook nicely in the camper oven, too.

    A strict meal rotation wouldn’t work here, because the reward for a small accomplishment is getting to choose what’s for supper soon (how soon depends on when I’m going to the grocery store).

    RMS, I have a Sodastream. It doesn’t make water as bubbly as buying a 2 L at the store. I prefer the 1/2 L bottles to the 1 L, because those will reach an “adequate” level of bubbliness. I don’t use it for soda, just sparkling water, but I’ve heard the soda mixes aren’t that good. I especially like it when I’m sick and can now drink as much sparkling water as I want without having to take kids to the store, but that’s probably not such a plus for you. I buy cartridge refills at Bed, Bath and Beyond with their $5 off $15 coupon, both because of price and because BB&B stocks them at the manned service desk so I don’t have to find a human who knows how to do a cartridge exchange.

  132. “I disagree, or maybe I’m misunderstanding. I think the answer is ‘yes,’ and it’s whatever you already have. Because if you asked the beach house owners the same question, they would presumably answer ‘no,’ too, as they already have their beach house.”

    ITA. We are all already prioritizing based on what each of us value.

    We meal plan & cook at home a lot, and it really has cut down on food waste/spontaneous restaurant spending substantially from when we used to wing it. Sometimes the food is even from our garden (in July-September only). One of my old coworkers (40ish, 2 kids, two FT working parents) did the old school rotation of meals, including Taco Tuesday.

    @COC – Ina’s written recipes ALWAYS specify “good” X. It drives me batsh*t. It is so ridiculously pretentious. What does “good” even mean? Is Kirkland Olive Oil good? Do I need to buy it from some specific farm in California or Italy? Shove it, Barefoot Contessa!

    Milk Chocolate is WAY better than Dark Chocolate in almost all instances. IMHO, Hershey’s is the bottom of the barrel. Nestle and Cadbury are both better and priced about the same. I don’t eat much plain chocolate though – I like it with nuts or caramel or mint filling more than plain.

  133. I love my Soda Stream. Update on the political issues that surrounded the company for a few years. The (Israeli) company had established a West Bank factory more than 10 years ago. It was acquired by a new owner in 2007, who said he would not have chosen to locate a factory there, and eventually he responded to a vigorous international boycott by closing the West Bank factory in 2015 and relocating production inside Israel. Unfortunately, the Israeli government would not grant work permits to the 500 displaced West Bank Palestinian workers to travel inside Israel to work at the new factory, so they lost their jobs.

  134. I love Cadbury

    DH is already on a low carb diet for his health issues, so I eat less carbs than I used to, but I need to make changes in my diet

    I know it says not to drink on the medicine, I drink way less than I did pre-kid days any way, so I figure a few drinks a month will be okay

  135. “– Ina’s written recipes ALWAYS specify “good” X. It drives me batsh*t. It is so ridiculously pretentious. What does “good” even mean? Is Kirkland Olive Oil good? Do I need to buy it from some specific farm in California or Italy?”

    Ask Jeffrey.

  136. “I mean frugal in the sense of expending a considerable amount of your daily bandwidth on saving money.”

    Is that even necessary? I feel like the “bandwidth” is mostly made up to have something to blog about. It’s not rocket science. I guess if you are including the time to learn how to fix your own cars and do major home repair/construction from You Tube that would take up a considerable amount of time, but I’d rather work in an office.

  137. ” I guess if you are including the time to learn how to fix your own cars and do major home repair/construction from You Tube that would take up a considerable amount of time, but I’d rather work in an office.”

    amen to that

  138. RMS – I ogt DH a soda stream for his birthday last year. He loves it. It will make the water fizzy, and then you add the flavoring. I don’t see why you couldn’t make tea fizzy, other than having to clean it well for the next time you just want carbonated water.

    And thanks you all for “We wear short shorts” which is now stuck in my head!

  139. We are trying out Hello Fresh instead of our usual Blue Apron. I’ll try to do a comparison for those interested after a few more meals.

    I hate meal planning.

  140. I’ve never heard of metformin being used for hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a symptom that doesn’t map to a specific disease (whereas diabetes is disease that doesn’t map to a specific set of symptoms.) usually hypoglycemia is managed by diet modification. In the good ole days, that meant regular snickers bars. In the enlightened modern times,that usually means high protein, low carb diet.

    Perhaps you misspoke and you have mild hyperglycemia or pre diabetes?

  141. Ada, I might have misspoke with the terminology, what he said was that I need this medication along with high protein , low carb diet

    that currently I am using the snickers bar when my blood sugar drops, this is making my insulin spike during the day, contributing to a negative cycle of craving sugar and fatigue

  142. my mom and her mom are both pre-diabetic so he thought this would help me to not become diabetic

  143. “Or let me give you a lecture about how unethical it is to buy bananas.”

    Does that have to do with clearcutting or burning down forest to clear land for banana cultivation, then abandoning it when the soil is no longer suitable for banana cultivation?

    We buy locally grown bananas; to my knowledge, local banana growers do not engage in those practices. They cost 2 to 3 times as much as central American bananas, but they do taste better (local bananas are usually apple bananas).

    Perhaps you can look for bananas from here.

  144. “I stayed home today to meet the tile guy, and he still hasn’t arrived to start the work. I really hate home renovations. My dream would be to be rich enough to have someone take care of all of this for me.”

    Between DW and me, this wouldn’t be a big problem right now. We both have enough use or lose vacation time we need to take by the end of the year that taking a day off here or there wouldn’t impact our vacation plans.

    In a previous job, I got to a point in which I had to take at least one day off every pay period, or lose that day. I had banked a bunch of vacation to stay home with DS when he was born, but we were very busy at work, so I worked PT from home while staying home with DS.

  145. “Is Kirkland Olive Oil good?”

    Yes. I’ve read several different articles citing a study of various brands of extra-virgin olive oils, examining the chemistry to determine whether they were really extra-virgin olive oil, or something else sold as extra-virgin, and my recollection is that Kirkland (I think it was their organic extra-virgin olive oil) was one of, if not the only, brands that consistently tested as extra-virgin.

  146. From conversation with an Israeli engineer in my home several years ago, it was apparent to me that all the Palestinians would lose their jobs if the boycott was successful, whether the plant was moved to Israel or some other country. I thought the goal of the boycott was to close a factory in the West Bank, and that the fact that the Sodastream workers would become unemployed was a foreseen and accepted side effect.

  147. What does “good” even mean? Do I need to buy it from some specific farm in California or Italy?

    Good tends to mean actual extra virgin olive oil, not the adulterated stuff that Europe ships to the U.S. There is no inspection of imported olive oil, and no need for it meet quality requirements or even be extra virgin.

    Is Kirkland Olive Oil good?
    Not if it is imported.

    Do I need to buy it from some specific farm in California or Italy?

    You need to buy it from California. There are a number of California labels that provide good olive oil. Imported olive oil from any country is usually adulterated.

    The lack of import controls was a major reason we decided against planting olives.

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