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Daughter: Is there any stroganoff left over?

Me: In the Cool Whip tub in the refrigerator. I mean, the Sure Fine imitation Cool Whip tub in the refrigerator.

D:……..

D:…….

D: I don’t see it.

M: It’s right in front of you.

D: I don’t see it.

M: It’s on the top shelf, in the box, on top of the lemons. It’s right square in front of you (which, jeebus knows, is my error, because “right in front of you” to her meant I don’t know, somewhere in the hinge or something).

D: I don’t see it.

M: It’s in the white tub with the blue label with a red thing in it. In the box, on the top shelf, on top of the lemons, on the left side of the refrigerator. I can see it from here.

D:…..

D:…..

D: Oh, do you mean the whipped topping tub?


I mean, I know it’s semiotics. It’s the Kleenex (registered trademark) problem, writ large. To me, “Cool Whip tub” means anything that falls in that general range of substitutable products. Part of my problem is that I can see where she gets confused. That to her, “Cool Whip Tub” refers to – and only to – “CoolWhip tub.” I could have sworn I had thrown in enough descriptors to make it clear. Some days I’m not sure if it’s her or me with the problem. Anybody want to borrow her for a few weeks?

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