Bring more to the table.                             

There’s an ad airing often lately on television -- a snapshot of a wholesome, yet not quite completely perfect family composed of a boy, a girl, a Dad and a very blonde Mom who’s poised at a microwave.  Four sets of eyes focus on that magic hurry-it-up box anticipating the evening’s missing morsel.

In this picture of domestic bliss, the table is beautifully set with plates, utensils, napkins. A vase of flowers accentuates this still life.

Flowers. On the table. In a kitchen -- a perfect clutter free kitchen no less. No mail piling up on the counters. No kid backpacks on the floor to trip over. No shoes accumulating by the door. 

Oh, the magic of television.

On the table, chicken is plated with salad waiting for the last ingredient – a precooked, reheated, hermetically sealed, damp clump of carbs that will grace the china and rock this family’s world.

A voice-over challenges … bring more to the table.

It’s not enough that this woman has a picture-perfect family in a picture-perfect kitchen with a picture-perfect and balanced meal prepared. Oh nooooo, it’s never enough. We need to bring more to the table.

Alert the media, I want to scream. Call the comic genius that posed the question: “If it’s called minute rice why does it take twenty minutes to cook?” Yoo-hoo world, Uncle Ben has it down to ninety seconds!  Nuke it. Voila, it’s ready! And, can you believe it? It comes in a plastic toss-able pouch. No messy clean up!  Those Reynolds Wrap ladies are going to be annoyed. They’ve so been one-upped. Get this Martha, no pots or pans.

In a world where the Food Channel airs Gourmet cooking for wannabes, Cooking-101 for dummies, and Master-chef-showdowns twenty-four-seven that we ingest while eating  take-out, are we beyond boiling water and dumping in some rice? In today’s nano-second charged world, we want to bring more to the table – but fast, or forget it.  Now Mom can ease her guilt and achieve culinary nirvana by popping in a pouch.

There’s no longer any excuse not to bring more to the table.

As if the sheer joy that can be experienced with this marvel wasn’t enough, lo and behold, when the pouch is plucked from the microwave, a shiny silver candelabra with lit candles follows. But wait, there’s more; next, a contortionist clutching a Stradivarius squeezes out of the small opening to serenade.

A violinist? With the rice? But where’s the whining? The protest? The “But Mooooooomm”? Are these kids drugged? What no 50 cent? No Ludacris? No… It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp pumping up the background?

As I see it, musicians have hit the mother lode. Can’t get a gig? Book the neighbor’s micro. Not only can you perform regularly, but it’s also a sauna in a box, a free facial with every performance. Hey, don’t judge, it’s steady work.

Life or something like it – Violins. Candles. Flowers. 90-second rice.  Television magic. Now that’s something to lust for. Or, as Madison Avenue reminds, it’s the something lacking in our lives. Rice… this rice will solve your problems and all for about two bucks.

This scene so resembles my life --  kids aren’t fighting, Dad’s present for the meal… and that non-existent clutter thing.  Yup, that’s me.

On some level, I do feel something -- guilt, inadequacy.  Isn’t that the point?

I’m heading to the supermarket right now because, as God as my witness… I will bring more to the table, starting today.

But, for the record, not just any old soloist will do for my bunch.

            Do you think Izak Perlman’s available?