I have an advertisement for some unknown late 1990s product with the copy “I want to be your foam peanut.” People used to see the clipping on my wall in college and feel confirmed in their opinion of my weirdness, but I think being a foam peanut is a worthwhile goal in marriage, parenting and friendships.
Foam peanuts offer a soft cushion of protectiveness. Men in particular tend to be protective in the sword-fighting/kung-fu/take-the-bullet sort of way, and I like crossing blades and martial arts and firing machine guns on full automatic as much as the next girl (except that unlike most people I actually can fence and have fired a machine gun on full automatic), but I think more often relationships benefit from a softer form of protectiveness. When people are feeling fragile or banged up, it’s nice to be the kind of spouse, parent or friend who can help absorb the blows.
Foam peanuts insulate. I want to be the kind of person who insulates my friends and family from the noise and extremes of the world by being understanding, encouraging, kind, and available as a sounding board or a shoulder to lean on.
Foam peanuts are comfortable and unassuming. At the end of a hard day or when you’re really struggling with something, isn’t it nice to be around people who are peaceful and loving and considerate rather than people who are high maintenance, wound up, or require a lot of immediate action out of you? I must confess that I am more often the latter than the former, but I’m working on it. I’d like to be a more comfortable and restful person to be around.
The metaphor may be a bit of a stretch, but I like it because it’s a helpful reminder. “I want to be your foam peanut” sticks in my brain a bit better than “I need to be a better wife/mother/friend” does.
Do you have any odd or unusual phrases that serve as reminders for you?