Wednesday, November 12, 2008

SPAM and Cockroaches

Tonight, in the final meeting of my How To Teach Speaking and Listening class, we students demonstrated a portion of our final-project lessons plans. My partner and I had focused on teaching how to ask yes/no questions, and our demo was an abbreviated version of a Twenty Questions-like game with students guessing their partner's secret object. One of the items was a can of SPAM that I'd had on my desk at home. (This is where the eyes of any Panik reading this post perk up.)

After the demo, the student with the SPAM returned it to the bag, saying, "I haven't seen SPAM in a while."

And I said, "This can's a family heirloom. I've had it ten years."

Then I realized it was older than that. Much older. It had been a joke Christmas present that myself and each of my brothers had received one year. (We'd celebrated in Hawaii, and Hawaiians love their SPAM.) That Christmas, I was no older than eight. Which makes the SPAM twenty-one years old.

As I closed the grab bag, I thought, You've had that can of SPAM two-thirds of your life. What the hell have you done in that time?

This is a tricky question. Bryan and I often see twenty-four-year-old NFL football players on TV and say, "We've done nothing with our lives."

But if you develop the skills that were given to you, and apply them to useful means, or if you help someone, or do something larger than yourself, then you've made good use of your time. Even if you're not on TV, don't earn millions of dollars, and don't knock people over for a living.

SPAM is the food equivalent of the cockroach--it could survive a nuclear bomb, or whatever killed off all the dinosaurs. The cockroach and SPAM will both be around when we and our humble deeds and accomplishments aren't. It doesn't bother me in the least.


David said...

24-year-old footballer seems to have the life now, but when you and Bryan are 55, sitting on your veranda watching waves break, and you hear about that now 44-year-old retired footballer being broke and having millions in medical debt because of his injuries during the NFL years, you'll think "gee, we've really done something with our lives."

Mom said...

The picture alone made me smile -- and your blog entry made it even better. I'd forgotten you're that old; you still have the luck of looking much younger :-)

Thanks for reviving one of the SPAM memories; isn't it funny that now something else comes to mind when most people hear the word "spam?"

Michelle Panik said...

Dave, I hope you are right. Perhaps you can think the same thing to yourself while sitting on your back porch overlooking a lake. :)

Mom, I thought the same thing about the word "SPAM" being associated with something else in current society. While searching for a photo of SPAM online, I waded through oh-so-many pages associated with that much-reviled form of email.

Karen said...

Your mom sent us some canned meats for Christmas one year! It was hilarious and is still fondly remembered as one of our favorite gifts! It made us feel like part of the family. : )