Cruelty Free

by Debbie Harris — Last year, I received a new bar of rose-scented soap from my aunt. On the side of the box I noticed a message indicating that the soap was made without any animal products and without testing it on animals. The box declared the product to be “Cruelty Free.” So my new soap had no bits of Wilbur (Some Pig), shards of Stuart Little, or a four-star rating after having washed Grumpy Cat. That’s good. While I’m all for not treating animals cruelly, what about “cruelty free” experiences for people?

Can we take some of the cruelty out of news reports? Like when an on-the-scenes reporter shoves a microphone under the face of someone who just watched their house burn down and asks, “How do you feel right now?” Should the queried person respond, “Ready to use my distress, devastation, and sadness to help you with your ratings? I’ll get choked up and start crying now. Be sure to get my good side.”

And let’s take relationship break-ups. Break-ups are a huge OUCH to begin with, so it’s easy to add that little touch that turns it cruel. To reduce the cruelty factor in any break-up, don’t do any of the following:

Break up with someone on their birthday, Christmas, or any other celebratory holiday. “Happy New Year! My new year’s resolution is to not spend any more time with you!” That’s definitely five-star cruel. Flag Day and Ground Hog’s Day are ok—maybe one-star if the person finds that a happy day.

Breaking up with someone within a week of a close relative dying or anyone dear to them (including themselves) receiving a really bad health diagnosis is four-star cruel. “Sorry your grandmother died yesterday. It’s sad you won’t be seeing her anymore. And speaking of not seeing someone anymore . . .” “Good luck with your chemotherapy treatments. My new girlfriend/boyfriend and I will be praying for you.” Cru-el!

Aside from timing, method is important in a cruelty free break up.

Don’t break up any relationship that’s three months or longer via text or email. That’s at least three-star cruel.

If you just change your Facebook status to “single” and wait for him to see it, that’s four-star cruel.

And after three years of dating, don’t invite her to a fancy restaurant, telling her ahead of time that you have something important to talk to her about, and then break-up with her in the middle of the Prime Rib. That’s cruel off the charts.

In an effort to have a cruelty free Thanksgiving, don’t discuss any hot-button topics with your family—no politics, religion, sex, morals, or grandpa’s will. Stick with safe topics like the weather, how big the kids are getting, tricks the dog can do, how good the food is, or talk about a dead relative who no one liked who can no longer defend themselves.

To get you through the day you can also see any annoying people as cartoon characters—just don’t tell them that. The card-carrying NRA grandfather can be Elmer Fudd. The militant vegetarian cousin who goes ballistic that there’s a “dead animal” on your dinner table can be Donald Duck. Your demented nudist great uncle can be Sponge Bob No-Pants. Get creative. Make up characters—Granny Food-pusher, Brother Pin Cushion (with 85 piercings). Cousin Moan and Groan, the hypochondriac, Auntie Botox, with her swollen lips. However you do it, I hope you have a cruelty-free Thanksgiving.

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