Wouldn’t it be helpful if more things in life came with caveats?
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are clearly labeled as being potentially harmful and cancer-causing, and containers of alcohol come with TWO informational exhortations : “(1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery and may cause health problems.”
Motorized vehicles operated by student drivers are similarly and appropriately identified. Of course, these examples have certainly more than earned their attached precautions.
Some might say there are too MANY warnings out there these days (think treacherous playground equipment, power tools, tricycles or roller blades).
But how about when a child is poised to learn the outcome of an important test, often done these days by a seemingly innocent computer login?
“Warning: Learning your AP (Advanced Placement), ACT or SAT test score may be hazardous to your immediate sense of self-worth and well-being. However, your score on this test in no way indicates your chances at lifelong happiness or future financial success.”
There! That’s a warning I can get behind.
Or how about this one: “Caution: Inability to secure the prom date of your dreams–or any prom date at all–does not mean you are a ‘loser’ or ‘reject’ and is not a prediction that you are destined to journey through life without a partner.”
For the married couple with children, in the throes of a (likely rare) passionate embrace, murmuring in each other’s ears, “Life is already crazy. How much difference could one more child make?” I offer this: “Warning: Having a third child will compromise your ability to be easily seated at restaurants for at least 15 years, guarantees frequent bickering among your offspring in a multiplicity of combinations and may prevent you from taking romantic vacations as a twosome for the next decade or more.”
If the recent proliferation of tattoo parlors (and the resulting explosion of tattoos) entices you to have one applied right THERE, you should first be asked to view a photo of a 70-year-old bearing extra pounds of sagging flesh in the general vicinity of the planned tattoo and read the following: “Caution: Tattoos of questionable song lyrics, cuss words and naked women may appear different after several decades of hard wear than they do on 22-year-old bodies.”
For the newly licensed 16-year-old, intent on driving the perfect vehicle or otherwise be forced to DIE of embarrassment, might I suggest this: “Notice: Driving the rusting, 10-year-old family van or a ’90s-model Toyota Corolla will not render you invisible to all members of the opposite sex, nor will it cause you to be shunned by all ‘cool’ peers for the remainder of your teen years. If either does result, however, it really doesn’t matter.”
Doting parents who happen to also be non-pet lovers should consider: “Alert: Adorable, furry kittens may be prone to heavy shedding, loud meowing, overflowing litter boxes, high veterinarian’s bills and long lives. Fluffy’s life may extend well beyond your preschooler’s interest in him/her.”
Adolescents bent on convincing their reluctant parents that EVERYONE has a particular item could be instructed thusly: “Be Advised: Failure to possess a Wii does not mean you can never master golf, tennis or bowling.”
As with most warning labels, these red flags would probably be ignored or discounted, but at least they might prevent a few tears, “I told you so’s” or “Why didn’t anyone ever explain that to me’s” from the uninitiated.
John Lennon wrote a whole song loosely based on this concept: “Nobody told me there’d be days like these…strange days, indeed. Most peculiar, mama.”
Finally, here’s a reminder no one in this area should require: “Minnesota residents: Summer is passing quickly. Take that newspaper to the patio or front steps, turn off the computer and head outside. Snow shoveling season will resume shortly.”