One of my early memories is a childhood trauma that occurred when I was below kindergarten-age. I happened to wander into the living room late on evening when my dad was watching an incredibly violent, frightening show on t.v. I hugged my blankie, paralyzed, my eyes glued to the screen though my itty-bitty legs were itching to bolt and escape the horror that was unfolding as a mentally ill character chopped off his own arm with a kitchen utensil.
This show affected me for life. I dreamt about the sallow-complexioned guy cutting off his arm, and the arms flooding the room and bouncing out the door to go attack people or something. I was afraid of spatulas for years, as this was the televised maniac’s weapon of choice. And for ages I strove to avoid ever catching another glimpse of the hated, traumatizing show that had scarred my life – Spongebob Squarepants.
I wasn’t able to watch one second of that show until I was fifteen or so. Then my little brother showed me his favorite episodes on Netflix. I was a little afraid to watch such a terrifying cartoon, but I decided to be brave. Through watching Spongebob as a young adult far out of the target age range, I was able to finally realize how funny it was. I mean, really. It’s not like my favorite show or anything, but I did develop a certain fondness for the talking yellow sponge and pint-sized mad scientist Plankton and penny-pinching Mr. Krabbs. Sandy the Squirrel gets on my nerves big time. But the point is, the very same show I find charming now was one of the scariest things ever for me as a child actually in the average age-range of Spongebob‘s audience.
I don’t know if I was just overly sensitive, or if Spongebob really should be kept away from innocent young children. Honestly, I find there are many subtle aspects to each character that are very adult concepts. For example, Squidward is the classic wannabe artist with a “temporary” job until his clarinet career takes off. Except his temporary job has morphed into an infinite future of degradation and torture (for him, being with the cheerful Spongebob is torture.) The character of Squidward, when analyzed more deeply, is a symbol of unachieved dreams. Squidward thinks he is unique and talented, but no one else in his society agrees. So he becomes gloomy and cynical, trudging to work and having no real purpose in life except to be bitter towards everyone around him.
On the flip side, Spongebob is clearly mentally defective and doomed to spend his whole life as a child in an adult’s shoes. He does not dream of anything beyond his job at the Krusty Krabb. In fact, he takes the job very seriously and does his best to excel at it, earning him fame as the best Krabby Patty maker in Bikini Bottom and the friendships of the fish all around him (except, of course, when they periodically turn into an angry mob and chase him with torches.) The point is, Spongebob not only accepts his place in the world, he breathes all his uniqueness and talent into it, making him an irreplaceable fry-cook and truly lovable (though mentally challenged) character.
Though the little five-year-olds being exposed to Spongebob Squarepants are probably more focused on him cutting off his arms with a spatula than on analyzing his character, the message inscribed between the lines of this crazy kids’ show must be intended to enter the young viewers’ subconscious and teach them from a young age how to truly succeed in life. The key, according to the writers of Spongebob Squarepants, is to have a positive attitude and care about what you do. I think that’s a message we can all benefit from, as we get older and seek a “good college” so we can get a “good job”. No matter what career we choose, it is good if we believe it is, and put our talent into it.
Or maybe I’m wrong, and the message really is: be careful when using a spatula unless you have regenerating extremities like a cartoonified yellow sponge. I may never know. But either way, be careful in the kitchen while pursuing your dreams!
Now that I’ve started school, I am again drenched with a torrent of stress and homework to supposedly help me work my way to a “dream career.” While my dream career certainly isn’t flipping burgers at a fast food joint, it is also not one of those high-pay, low-fun jobs that make you yawn just to hear the job description. I hope to pursue a career that allows me to follow my dreams and inject my personal creativity into what I do.
This is a back-to-school coffee cake that you can make for breakfast in a hurry. It has the flavors of fall, what with the pumpkin, cinnamon streusel, and melty chocolate chips. And I infused it with my creativity by coming up with the idea myself. Spongebob would be proud!
This cake is also spatulaphobic-friendly, as there is no spatula usage necessary to make this cake. (FYI I have recovered from my spatula terror and am doing well, but if you personally find yourself afraid of cutting your arm off due to a traumatic children’s show I understand.)
Pumpkin Coffee Cake in a Mug
makes one serving
- 3 tbls whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (i used a pinch of each)
- 2 tbls pumpkin butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbl water
- pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1 1/4 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin butter
- 15 semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 tbl)
- 1 tbl chopped walnuts
For cake: In a mug, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, brown sugar, pumpkin butter, vanilla, and water. Mix well, making sure there are no dry spots. Stir in most of the chocolate chips and walnuts, but reserve some of each for the topping.
For the topping: In a tiny bowl, combine the streusel ingredients and mix well.
Microwave mug for 30 seconds. Add streusel topping and sprinkle on the remaining chocolate chips and walnuts. Microwave for another 15 seconds.
Bon appetit! (I promise you this mug coffee cake is better than a Krabby Patty!)
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