Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Settle for what you get": Tuffy Sponges


Sing Fraulein Schneider’s lament from Kander and Ebb's Cabaret the next time you’re walking down the grocery aisle:

For the sun will rise
And the moon will set
And you learn how to settle
For what you get.
It will all go on if we're here or not
So who cares? So what?
So who cares? So what?

Since she brought home a replacement “Tuffy” sink sponge, Sara has been complaining about its low quality especially when compared to the one it replaced (now living under the sink in service as a floor scrubber). Sara has declared the Tuffy yet another consumer product whose quality has gone south (despite the amazing fact that it is still made in the U.S.A).

Of course, the Tuffy brings to mind a whole category of modern consumer goods which trigger an apocalyptic mindset of “so what…settle for what you get”. To the “so what” category, we add Rubbermaid dish drainers, Pyrex measuring cups, General Electric toasters, SUS teakettles, Levi 501s (they’re cutting back on rivets), Pendleton shirts, Bass Weejuns, Girl Scout cookies, Hamilton watches, Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap, and on (add to the list as you like). Like the sponge, everything seems to be shoddier, smaller, flimsier, less vibrant, and housed in skimpier, less graphically arresting packaging (already ready for immediate disposal). Not sure how to resolve my woe here save for documenting the "who cares" and consoling myself with my own stockpile of durable wares.

4 comments:

devinemom said...

and that is why people in their 70's and 80's have it right when they go to the grave with stock piles of items they loved. i see it all the time at estate sales there are stacks of shoe boxes with the exact same shoe in seven different colors or the same cut pants in different shades. they have hit on something we all need to take hold of, buy a lot of something good when you find it you never know when its quality is going to be compromised.

l'il hateful said...

Add eyeglass frames to the list. The last pair I had held on for 5 years. These I have now -- Armani yet! -- are already showing strain. The LA Eyeworks frames I had back in the day lasted 8 years. Hard to settle when you can't even fall sleep in your glasses anymore.

I can't believe Levi is cutting back on rivets ... It's not the Depression, for heaven's sake.

Lesli L said...

Oh... I'll just send you to shopping aisles in Germany for your eyewear (a future column)...Perhaps "Shopping from the Past: The Weimar Republic." Germany still makes a decent frame.

New thing--even "replacement versions" of favorite old brands (like Vintage Abercrombie and Fitch from the 1920s) have gone to hades. I'm starting to complain about a drop in qualtiy in A+F cotton t-shirts from last year to this year.

Lesli L said...

Also trying to determine what would even be worth stockpiling from the current market's collection of wares (I remember seeing a shuttered shoe shop in Hoboken, NJ, filled with new old stock hush puppy loafers, etc, from the fifties, and wanting to purchase the entire lot of boxes).

I AM squirreling away Sebago loafers when they show up on ebay in my size (the made in USA "beefroll" Sebagos which disappeared from the market two years ago).

Maybe Dansko Professionals would be worth hoarding....But not the painted or metallic versions..