Was Pumpkin Spice even a thing five years ago? If it was, it wasn't much of one. In the intervening time, in what seems like the blink of an eye, this signifier of a faux-cozy autumnal vibe is ubiquitous. At the first thought of fall, sometime around Labor Day, the deluge begins and Pumpkin Spice season is upon us. With a fucking vengeance.
I feel about the whole Pumpkin Spice phenomenon much the way I feel about Donald Trump. Reader, I just don't get either one. Not only do they share an alarming, unnatural hue, both Mr. Trump and most things featuring Pumpkin Spice flavoring represent the opposite of authenticity. Both are trying to capture and commodify the essence of some mythical time when America was great and mom was in the kitchen baking a pumpkin pie. You know, that great America that featured segregation, legalized homophobia, and the systematic oppression of women. Fun times!
I'm willing to admit that The Food Babe's assessment of Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte notwithstanding (it's bullshit), pumpkin spice flavoring is probably not dangerous, just a culinary banality elevated to a omnipresent trend. Pumpkin Spice anything - lattes, vodka, Milano cookies, tortilla chips, peanut butter, condoms and toothpaste - make me want to hurl. (I'm pretty sure those last two are urban legend, but give it time.) What gives these otherwise delightful food items their Pumpkin Spiciness is a stew of artificial flavors and additives that taste like a mouthful of cheap autumn blend potpourri. It's not fall you're tasting, it's a fraudulent, chemically-laden fall fantasy created in a laboratory.
Would that Mr. Trump were as benign as his spicy counterpart. I won't try to catalog what I find so cynical and disheartening about Trump's candidacy; many others have done a much better job than I ever could. People like Christian pastor and blogger John Pavlovitz, writer, actor, and comedian Aziz Ansari, political commentator and television host John Oliver, activist and actress America Ferrera, writer and a senior fellow at the conservative think tank Ethics and Public Policy Center, Peter Wehner, and a host of Republican women who will be voting for Hillary Clinton, have all made the case that Donald Trump is an arrogant, racist, narcissistic, megalomaniac unfit to lead the United States as its president.
Here's the thing, I'm just over it all, Pumpkin Spice and the Pumpkin Don, enough already. Because there's another thing that these two odious phenomena have in common. They are both extraordinarily polarizing, often pitting brother against sister, husband against wife, friend against friend. So divisive are PS and the PD that neither their adherents nor their detractors are likely to be swayed by arguments from the other side.
We have reached a stalemate that only the arrival of the election or the Christmas season (hello, peppermint latte!) can break.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you will notice, unlike in years past, this season I have gone silent on the subject of Pumpkin Spice in its seemingly endless iterations. Beginning in late August friends began posting the latest atrocity, poking the bear with a Pumpkin Spice flavored stick, hoping to get a rise. This year I have refused to engage. I am overcome with Pumpkin Spice ennui, a bone-weary unwillingness to post even my minimalist go-to response of *gag*.
I feel the same way about the election in general, but mostly about my aversion to the Trump campaign and all that it stands for. Yes, I'll continue to oppose the possibility of a Trump presidency with all my resources, but I'm giving up on the notion that I can convert a Trump supporter to my way of thinking by posting on social media. And frankly, like most of you, I'm sick of the ugliness that has reached new heights this election season.
The beauty of social media is that it gives everyone a voice. Access to information and opinions is free and unfettered. Engaging in thought-provoking dialogue with people from around the globe can expand our world-view and make us more responsible global citizens.
On the other hand, social media can be an asshole.
The boundaries of good taste, civil discourse, common sense, and common decency are at best blurred and at worst non-existent. There are no rules of order, no mandates, no protocol, and if there were, there is no Internet police to enforce them. At this point in the election cycle online political debate has devolved into a shit storm of lies, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and hate.
It seems, whether it's Pumpkin Spice or the Donald and Hillary show, anything worth saying is worth saying without a filter until the end of time.
We're not changing minds and hearts, we're just beating a sad, dead horse.
So here is my pledge and a plea. I will stop all social media mentions of Trump if you will stop posting on my feeds about Pumpkin Spice anything. I vow to return to my usually scheduled fare of sunrises and sunsets, food and house porn, the antics of my canine family, hilarious listicles, kittens, sloths, and baby bats wrapped in blankets.
Full disclosure: I may from time to time post a positive, well-written, respectful article supporting the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton. At no time will I denigrate her opponent, no matter how tempting the opportunity might seem.
I vow further that no matter the outcome of the election I will keep my elation or disappointment to an absolute minimum.
They have Internet in Canada, right?