Super Tart!

Don’t judge a juice by its label. Maybe choose to drink it, though.

Is it wrong that I first bought Vermont Cranberry Company‘s “Super Tart!” 100% cranberry juice over my usual brand because of the model on the bottle?

Glass bottle of Super Tart! Pure Cranberry Juice by VT Cranberry Co with Rosie the Riveter inspired artwork

Rhetorical question. Of course not! Why shouldn’t we be as delighted by our favorite product’s packaging as by its features?

Isn’t that basically what made Apple ubiquitous? Ahem.

It’s worth noting here, however, that the unique square glass bottle in which I’m privileged to receive my Super Tart! is my absolute favorite for household re-use. If you store bulk food for emergencies or preparedness, you’re going to need something to decant the contents of those #10 cans into to keep it all fresh. Super Tart! labels peel off cleanly, and the glass bottle’s rectilinear shape stores neatly in the pantry once refilled with rice or beans.

Super Tart! Cranberry Juice next to re-filled similar bottles with rice, quinoa, freeze dried dried squashThe image on Vermont Cranberry Company’s bottle is obviously an homage to the We Can Do It! poster used so widely in a feminist context within my own lifetime. Yup, I had that refrigerator magnet, and maybe a t-shirt, too. It’s a mistake to believe this depicts Rosie the Riveter, but a common one. My research for this post has also turned me on to Wendy the Welder. Truly, I’m swooning over kick-ass early 20th Century working women today.

Like all 100% cranberry juice, Super Tart! will make you pucker up. There’s a reason mass market brands mix in plenty of sweeter, cheaper fruit juice with their cranberry cocktails. Wait, what kind of tart did you think my Super Tart! represented? Tsk tsk.

My family can tell you that I’m convinced there’s only one way to pronounce the title of this juice. S-s-s-super Tart!, strong emphasis on the s-s-s-sibilance, and with a gradually increasing volume and right to left swing of the head as if the sound is being carried along on the air zooming by your face as you say it. Think: race car in a cartoon.

Super Tart! is a name to be declared with jubilance, I opine.

“Perk up,” that bottle model seems to say to me, “because just look how good we’ve got it!”

And I do so, every. single. time. I pour a glass of the stuff. I take Super Tart! over ice diluted with sparkling water; feel free to add a slice of lime or a shot of vodka if you’re feeling festive. I believe the Super Tart! welcomes all kinds.

“Of Human Bondage” and its trove of… parenting wisdom?

One reads the classics because

Actually, I won’t presume to know why anyone else reads a classic novel.*

Having long since passed the stage of life wherein, to quote the Indigo Girls song “Closer to Fine:”

…I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

Very much in spite of much of the bureaucratic process we call schooling, but with deep regard for the great investment of time and energy—of inestimable value!—into the bettering of my mind by more than my fair share of gifted teachers, I remain a student, if not a scholar, and a committed autodidact.

For this reason—and because I suffer from an oscillation between stultifying malaise and desperate, yearning agitation when I don’t have a good book at hand, preferably with a few more queued upI read and re-read the classics.

book novel Of Human Bondage coverLast month, I embarked upon the reading of W. Somerset Maugham‘s hefty tome, Of Human Bondage.

The wholly inadequate summary of the novel in the library catalogue says:

“The story of a deformed youth whose handicap causes loneliness.”

I would laugh if such a shallow skimming over of the depth of this story didn’t leave me wanting to sob. It’s almost a caricature of the isolation and lack of understanding that torments Phillip, Of Human Bondage‘s orphaned protagonist, during his youth.

With little interest in literary criticism, let me come directly to what moved me so deeply as I worked my way—slowly, because it deserved thorough attention—through this weighty novel:

Phillip needed a caregiver.

He really could have used a mother. He flailed because being orphaned left him to learn for himself what most of us are taught by even mediocre parents.

He was born with a less than stellar internal compass for interpreting the giving and receiving of any kind of love. He wasn’t what we might call today a “people person.” He was one of those kids who most need explicit help to interpret the social world, and take a full role within it.

Reading Of Human Bondage made the importance of the part I can play in my sons’ lives more unequivocal to me than ever before. I should be mature enough not to doubt it; I remain insecure enough that I do.

I’m grateful that I didn’t read Maugham’s masterpiece as a student.

Continue reading