Monday, April 25, 2005

Holy Piñata Batman! Er . . . I mean, “Unholy Batman Piñata!”

Over its few months of existence INFDL has dedicated itself to the great issues of the day. On this site we have discussed the protests in Lebanon, the passing of one of the greatest Popes of all time and the historic election in Iraq. I now wish to cast my gauntlet and issue my defiant challenge against one of the most insidious products of our modern age: the pull-string piñata.

My son turns four on Friday, and my wife has organized a fete to honor the much beloved boy. This party will involve a gaggle of neighborhood children, a “bounce house” and a Batman piñata. But the piñata is not the sort that you might expect a Mexican to whack with a broom handle. No, this item of papier-mache has a number of strings dangling from it and children are supposed to pull them one at a time until the right one gets pulled and candy falls out. In short, it is an abomination, and if such a thing had been seen in Chihuahua in 1912 Pancho Villa would have undoubtedly had its maker shot.

The argument for such piñatas is that the old fashioned kind are dangerous. Now, normally when it comes to children’s safety issues I bow to my wife’s expertise. She is a nurse, after all, and she was right about letting our son sled down the stairs in a laundry basket (though, in my defense, the injuries that resulted from that activity were entirely superficial, and the boy himself wanted to get back in the basket as soon as he had stopped crying).

But to neuter the piñata in such a way is unacceptable. I thought I had won this argument last year when my wife purchased a pull-string Buzz Lightyear. “But the boy likes to whack things, Sweet Pea,” I said. And I thought she agreed with me. Little did I know that her silence was not a sign of assent, it was a sign of defiance. Like a viper, she was quietly biding her time and waiting to strike.

We give up too much for the sake of safety. Read Huxley’s Brave New World to see where this sort of rampant nannyism will take mankind if we let it.

Besides, I’ve seen enough of America’s Funniest Home videos to know that children never get hurt when it comes to piñata bashing. It is always dad who takes a bat to the ‘ol fishing tackle. What kind of father would I be if I wasn’t ready to take that kind of risk for my boy?

I intend to sabotage the piñata so that none of the strings open it and it has to be done in the old fashioned way. After all, the lesson of a piñata should be this:

Force rules the world still,
Has ruled it, shall rule it;
Meekness is weakness,
Strength is triumphant,
Over the whole earth
Still is it Thor's-Day!

So, like Thor I issue this challenge to pull-string piñatas:

And thus singled-handed
Unto the combat,
Gauntlet or Gospel,
Here I defy thee!

-Longfellow

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