Appreciating More With the Bisquick Rule

This is what's left of the steps Baby dances on in Dirty Dancing. Not that I dragged my husband there or anything.

My parents never served any sort of pre-prepared foods, except things like cereal where it’s impractical to make your own. Fries were made from potatoes, not from a freezer bag. Macaroni and cheese was made with actual cheese, not orange powder. And pancakes were made with flour, eggs, oil, and milk. As a result, pancakes in restaurants usually tasted awful to me since restaurants tend to use Bisquick or some other mix. Bisquick has a particular taste to it that just didn’t say “pancake,” so I never ordered them.

Somewhere during college (when many of us loosen our standards), I learned to apply the Bisquick Rule. When I ceased to think of Bisquick pancakes as pancakes and began respecting them as a separate food, they didn’t seem so bad. I just couldn’t think of them as pancakes.

It turns out the Bisquick Rule can be applied to a lot of things. I find myself invoking it on a near-weekly basis.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I got a babysitter and went to a local comedy club. Their special that night offered a $5 souvenir mug of beer with $1 refills for domestics and $2-3 for craft beers and imports. When the bartender started pouring, he didn’t ask–he just went straight for the Bud Light. We both have a beer preference list that starts with microbrew, moves through Guinness, and doesn’t even include anything with the word “light” in it, regardless of spelling. My husband asked, “Could we get something different?” since the sign did suggest there were options. Bartender said, “Bud Light or Coors Light, and we’re all out of Coors Light,” with the same sort of expression one might use to say, “…and I’m all out of bubblegum.” We thus chose to drink the Bud Light for the first time since our long-ago college years of lower standards.

Bisquick Rule. Don’t think of it as beer, and Bud Light is actually not the worst thing ever. Might have even made Rich Vos a little funnier that night.

Several times in the last two days, friends who know I’m a big fan of Dirty Dancing (you have your guilty pleasures and I’ll have mine) have let me know that there’s going to be a remake. One even sent it with the note, “Because I know it’ll get your panties in a bunch.”

Bisquick Rule. Panties unbunched. I love dance movies–all of them–even though I know that it’s too much to ask for good dancing and good acting in the same two hours. As long as I think of this as a dance movie and not as my beloved Dirty Dancing, I will be able to love it just as much as the rest.

So far the Bisquick Rule has failed me only once. I cannot, even if I completely separate it from the Star Trek franchise, find any appreciation for Enterprise. I just can’t. It could be that I can’t stop thinking it’s going to turn out to be the longest Quantum Leap ever, but I’m pretty sure I just don’t like it. It says something about a show when it can’t even get its own final episode and has to borrow one from another series.

I recommend giving it a shot. (The Bisquick Rule, not Enterprise. I could never recommend trying that.) Maybe you’ll learn to appreciate Starbucks instead of complaining that it tastes burnt. Maybe you’ll begin to believe that the Star Wars prequels weren’t the worst thing to happen in a movie theater. Worst case scenario, you’re right back where you started, not liking something, but at least you’ve still got the real Quantum Leap on Netflix.

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By day, Ruth works to make open source software communities better. The rest of the time, she makes things, which means her husband and kids know to watch out for stray sewing pins and to ask before eating anything made of fondant.