The Magazine

The Vulgar Games

Pondering the Honey Boo Booization of America.

Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By JUDY BACHRACH
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A friend of mine who is otherwise quite modern in her outlook raised two delightful sons, now attractive young men, by the simple expedient of threatening to send them to bed without dessert whenever they got the least bit out of line at the dinner table. Okay, I’m oversimplifying. There were other childrearing techniques involved. But the threat, which, by the way, was not idle, was magic. Moreover it pre-supposed two conditions not inevitably present nowadays: 1) family dinner; and 2) that parents, not children, ruled the roost. In other words, the parents civilized their offspring.

Well, I have just three things to say about that. Four, really. 

One: Yes, I did used to threaten both Noah and Sam, my attractive sons, with no dessert and also an order to leave the table whenever they got out of line as children. Two: I’m not so sure “ruled the roost” quite covers the way we were perceived by those who were thus deprived of our company. Three: Threats of banishment or deprivation weren’t invariably successful civilizing instruments. Four: There was, for example, that time during a very long Rosh Hashanah service when the boys started punching each other, and I said, “You two do that again and I’m taking you both home in a heartbeat! And that’s a promise.”

All I am saying is, and I am certain Paula Deen would understand this part: Civilization ain’t easy.

Judy Bachrach is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.