They’re still having telethons, no matter

September 3, 2007 at 8:51 AM (Telethons) ()

what we say….

So, able telethon producers, and hangers on and moneymakers of the Charity Model of Disability…

Let’s say you have a spice rack…High end, glass jars with your favorite aromatic and tasty types…with a dual cover that allows for either a big handful, several “pinches” or sprinkling or “shaking” through a series of holes, just like salt or pepper shakers….refillable too…

And one day, you realize you’re out of your favorite spice of all (mine wavers between tarragon, or ginger, that beloved mainstay of oriental salad dressings….) so you head to the store, grab ginger off the rack and head home.

You are at once saddened and astonished when you get home.  The top of the glass jar is completely solid.  No openings…and you’re completely *out of spice money* for the year…..and somehow no matter how much you freeze this jar, or boil it in water or take your welding torch to it, or leave it with the dog to play with….you cannot crack the glass into the requisite holes or openings.  But, you reason, to be any use at all….it’s got to have those openings or it’s not worth a damn.

(The other spice jars, garlic in particular have been jumping up and down making a ruckus, but you don’t notice this.  )

One evening, intead of getting angry at the oft poked prodded and welded jar, you notice it’s got fine lines and curves and a sparkly label, for all it’s uselessness.  So, you contact the Food Network and the Home Shopping Network, and say, we’ve *got* to do a teevee show about this and you find from them that you aren’t the *only one * with this problem, that in fact, this year, *one in five* spice jars was made without the normal openings, and the manufacturer has advised that this will be an ongoing problem, due to who knows what.

So one day a year,  you put your shiny, defective spice jar full of the most aromatic ginger known to man on television, and ask the viewers to pity the malformed thing.

(At home, your other spice jars are sweating and worn out from trying to give you an answer, but you are so entranced by the big stage, the bright lights and most importantly the sad songs….full of tears,pathos, bathos  and whining….)

and even you are amazed at the amount of bucks that roll in. You lie to yourself and the viewers that it’s all for the dear, sad, brave, ginger jar…  (can’t be used for a new spice jar, but many new high tech gizmos are set aside to torture the ginger jar anew come end of telethon day.Thinning the glass with toxic chemicals.  A miniature plastique explosive that claims to obliterate the jar and leave the precious ginger intact.  You almost go for that one, but decline because you’d lose the plucky sparkly tear provoking label.)

You come home at the end of telethon day and set about buying gizmos, and dump the meal ticket ginger jar in a corner….

And that’s how it goes for you each year….you use the jar to provoke tears, and then ignore it the rest of the time….it isn’t fit to stay in the spice rack so after a few years, you buy another, normal jar, and lock the ‘different’ one up in a dark cupboard at the far end of the kitchen.

Until the tarragon jar comes and bites you on the hand one day, when you are attempting the nearly impossible: to mimic the marvelous tarragon chicken salad made fresh by your local Whole Foods organic grocery every day.

“You dumb bastard!  You’ve wasted the best ginger in town and I won’t stay by that cheap-ass replacement you’ve bought!”

You’re flummoxed by a talking spice jar, but being a showman of sorts, you recover quickly, efficently bathing the bite in Neosporin and wrapping it with a heavy cloth napkin.

“You just have to open it differently you idiot!” The tarragon jar was on a roll and not about to shut up.  “Use the refill opening on the bottom and you’ll get all the ginger you want!”

Slackjawed and amazed, you go to the confined jar, and open the refill end…and the ginger…surprisingly still fresh, rolls onto your palm ready for use,  the sharp and lovely smell filling the kitchen.

If you’d watched the Grinch when you were a kid, this would have been that lightbulb moment.  You would have understood that *making the jar a charity case and locking it  away,* two things that had nothing to do with whether or not it had holes, *you* were the one perpetuating the negative consequences of it’s difference…That if you had just had a chat with the ginger jar, and perhaps others like it, you would have found an adaptive method for using the jar, and all this bullshit would *never have happened.*

But, Paula Dean’s gonna cry on this year’s show, and Elton Brown is going to laugh at the jar, whilst explaining the exact  scientific properties of glass and ginger, and the ‘normal’ jar making process is going to be guest hosted by some dude from the Discovery Channel…

That’s what *you* love.  The reactivated plastic fame that you get one day a year.  The jar has to *stay* malformed and pathetic instead of adaptive and useful, otherwise you don’t get your jolt of what you still see, misguided and evil as you are, of “doing a good thing.”

I’ll be chatting with the spices this year, so I guess I’ll have to miss your show.

What a shame.


  1. Kara said,

    Love your spice metaphor and thank you so much for joining in on the protest. I’m updating the page now to include yours on the master list but it looks like several people have visited from your comment link so thanks again and I hope we keep in touch!

  2. » Blog Archive » Protest Pity said,

    […] Midlife and Treachery gets creative with a metaphor to help explain the charity model. […]

  3. bridgett said,

    No one here watched it, I can assure you.

  4. imfunny2 said,

    I’ll bet you had another good outside day…how was the b ball game yesterday?

  5. imfunny2 said,

    And thanks Kara, I have never gotten the hang of hypertext links from comments…..

  6. Attila the Mom said,

    Is there any way we can package up ole Jerry and send him off to France permanently? Or do we have to wait for his cremation to fit him in a spice jar?

    He has always made my skin crawl.

  7. Scott Rains said,

    Great image!

  8. Andrea Shettle, MSW said,

    I’ve been re-reading the blog posts from last year’s blogswarm against Jerry’s “Pity-a-thon” and really love your use of metaphor in this post!

    I wanted to make sure you knew about the latest that is happening with Jerry and his, yes, humanitarian award:

    Jerry Lewis, the man who runs the annual Telethon to raise money for people with muscular dystrophy in the US is about to receive a humanitarian award. Many people in the disability community is protesting this award because they feel that Jerry perpetuates and entrenches negative, harmful stereotypes toward people with disabilities. More about the petition campaign at:

    There is also a Facebook group at

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