Father uses a brownies recipe
to demonstrate to his children the effects of a little smut.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2008]
A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13.
The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family's church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it. The con's were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time they said), and you actually did not "see" the couple in the movie having sex - it was just implied sex, off camera. The pros were that it was a popular movie - a block buster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it. There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie's stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards.
Many of the members of their Christian church had even seen the movie and said it wasn't "very bad". Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it.
The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; "Now we've got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!" So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.
The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.
The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.
The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well - they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed.
Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a "little bit of crap" and not be effected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with "just a little bit of smut" and not be effected.
Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room.
Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, "Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?"
Our earliest sighting of this item comes from a August 2001
web site posting, and it has since appeared in at least one book. However, even in its earliest incarnation the author was not
identified, which makes it difficult to determine whether the story is a true account or a work of fiction meant to illustrate a moral point.
The tale's moral is that even a little bit of something unwholesome is harmful to those who come into contact with it, a concept the teens in the story fail to appreciate until their own mode of argument (pointing out the relative insignificance of the film's negative points: just a few swear words, a little bit of violence, the sex takes place off-screen)
is turned upon them (there's only the tiniest bit of doggie doo-doo
in the otherwise luscious brownies set before them, and its potential for making them sick has likely been neutralized by the cooking process). Only through the mechanism of having their form of argument reflected back at them do the teens appreciate the lesson that quality trumps quantity as they find that all good arguments to the contrary, they cannot bring themselves to eat the brownies.
The device the tale turns upon is a staple in numerous legends: Wiseacres (typically young people) attempt to sneak one past various authority figures in their lives, only to have their cleverness turned back upon them by those in charge. Examples include the frustrated college student who scrawls a smart-ass answer
on his exam in anticipation of scoring a decent mark, then sees his hopes dashed by the professor who uses that very response against him; the roomful of college students who delight in jumping the clock forward by throwing erasers
at it every time their professor is late, only to have him do the same thing to the clock when they're writing their final exams; and the college student sitting an exam who demands
under an arcane rule still in effect that he be served cakes and ale, only to find himself fined for not wearing his sword.
Barbara "return to sender" Mikkelson
11 June 2008
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- Dobson, Danae. Let's Talk!
- Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-8423-0818-0 (pp. 8-10).