Wednesday, June 9, 2010

THE DOCTOR IS IN! Crazy, Comforting Combos for Characterization and Therapeutic Benefit

Funny thing I thought of last night--the odd coupling of comfort items in my life; things which would not normally be paired but, for some unknown reason, give me the warm fuzzies when put together. Things that I, both consciously and unconsciously, have let enrich (I hope) my characters.

Let me list a few.

Back in the day, when Hardees restaurants still marketed to families instead of the great unwashed redneck population, my friend Julie and I would end (or begin) many a girls' night out at that fine, ahem, establishment. Jules would usually get a Dr. Pepper and a small order of fries and, after I ordered my requisite Pepper, I would request one brown-sugary, melt-in-your-mouth-yet-still-crispy-on-the-outside masterpiece of baked ecstasy called The Big Cookie.

Tangent alert: I don't go to Hardees anymore--I really got horked when they changed the recipe of aforementioned cookie and eschewed brown sugary goodness for a strong taste of preservative--but I swore off them when they launched their "Paris Hilton Washing a car in her very wet, clingy, barely-there hotpants" marketing campaign (hard to believe the company's marketing could go downhill from there. But, really, guys. Ew. I'm not a prude, but there are things that are appetizing and things that aren't. Fat, sweaty, hairy, greasy men diving into ginormous burgers just doesn't make me want to eat at your dive.)

Anyway... back then, Hardees was a family show--a teen show on the weekends--and since The Creepy Guy worked at the McDonald's next door, there we'd land. Hardees was pretty much on the way to everywhere we'd want to go (movies, mall, etc.) and always on the way home, as well. Funny how that works. Although The Big Cookie, as it once was, has probably rolled over in its grave if they have High Def TV in Cookie Heaven, I have found that both Arby's and KFC have a reasonable, though quite a bit smaller, facsimile. And they both serve Fountain Dr. Pepper. Yippee!!! Nostalgia. Ahhhhh. This indulgence takes me briefly back to the days when I could have indulge regularly and not gain an ounce because the angst of teendom would burn off all those calories.

Good times.

Julie introduced me to Mr. Stover's delightfully creamy indulgence while we were studying for an Algebra II test at her house. Better than Prozac, the Doctor and Mr. Stover combined their therapeutic expertise to help me rise above my anxiety and actually pass the test. I think I passed, anyway.... huh. (insert my carefree shrug of the shoulders. I have a college degree and still don't know diddly about cosigns and imaginary numbers. And strangely, have never need to know about them in real life.) Regardless, I have nothing but the kindest of thoughts toward both clinicians. French Chocolate Mints have their origins in the divine, I think.

3. WATERGUNS and --wait for it-- A COLD CAN OF DR. PEPPER
Julie, again, and Brandi, the other member of our cord-of-three-strands friendship provided me with my most vivid, grab-your-gut-laughing memories of my youth, young adulthood, and into the NOW.

TANGENT ALERT: (If you like that phraseology,"grab-your-gut-laughing" it could probably be texted as GYGL. tee, hee! Giggle. Get it?! Oh, look! We've just invented a new text word! Aren't we funny? When it makes it into the Urban Dictionary, call me!)

Crawling across the backyards of two high school teachers on our bellies with the intent of attacking the Superintendent of Schools' house with water guns is just one of many memories involving "The Angels" -- as we referred to ourselves and still, sometimes, do twenty years later. Even now we are planning a get together at which may or may not involve waterguns, but will certainly involve Dr. Pepper.

Dr. Pepper has played a huge role in my life. It's the best thing to come out of Waco, Texas since... um...David Koresh? Nope. That doesn't work. Okay, the best darn thing to ever come out of Waco, Texas. (No offense to my Texan friends. I love y'all. You know that.) But, seriously now... how can one not find comfort within a beverage you associate with nostalgia, fun, friends, and, often, chocolate????

I've suddenly realized that I should be supremely grateful that my friends and I were fairly good girls. Had another, stronger beverage been the liquid companion to our adventures, then perhaps I would be writing this post from rehab. As it is, however, I'm just lovin' on the Pepper and I'm using this pull of mine toward the Good Doctor to help me visit my other bastion of Cheap Therapy: writing fiction.

I've created a somewhat neurotic character who is nearly chemically dependent upon Dr. Pepper when the going gets rough. Her choice companion for those fizzy sessions? Milk Duds. Being interested in all the technical aspects involved in the craft of writing, I have done a fair bit of research on this particular therapy combo and, after one gastronomically disastrous foray into the excesses of my character, I have finished my research--and decided to lay off the Milk Duds.

'nuff said.

Seriously. Try it. It makes the Coke taste almost like a Dr. Pepper. And action movies rock.

So, that brings me to the question for my readers (God bless all 10 of you!): What are your weird combos for comfort, nostalgia, and warm-fuzzies? And to my readers who are also writers: Do you incorporate your personal neuroses/cravings/comforts into your characters--and/or--Do you find yourself taking on the neuroses you invented for your characters while engaged in the writing of a piece?

Leave your answers in the comments. I can't wait to read about your crazy combos and if they show up upon the page where Fiction Mirrors Truth.

1 comment:

blowgunner62 said...

Vitamin Water and either a Butterfinger or Fast Break!

Also, singing along with a vanfull of teenagers between sips of cappuccino. (Though the caffeine-induced jitters throw off my harmony, which is not cool ;)