Thursday Night in the Fog


This winter has been colder than normal here on my sandbar, but it’s also produced some lovely fog.  I like fog.  It’s like the earth is under a blanket. Everything seems quieter, although there’s a faint tinge of menace, like it’s calm, only there’s a serial killer hiding in the murk somewhere, waiting to attack me as I eat my Pastellfiskar.

On this side of the pond, we call them “Swedish Fish.”

In addition to being the the rare Swedish word without any umlauts, “pastellfiskar” means “pastel fish.” If you’re eating candy fish in Sweden, I guess the “Swedish” is a given.  Then again, visit the dairy aisle in The Infernal Store™, and you’ll see all manner of explicitly identified American Cheese. (The United Nations of Cheese probably insisted on it)

I wonder how American cheese came to be.  The Swiss have has millenia to perfect their holey, holy, wholly awesome cheese.  For the United States, being a political science lab project nobody thought would survive this long, I imagine a committee designed our national cheese. They tried to make it innocuous enough not to offend anybody, but in doing so, made it bland and uninteresting. It melts easily–great for grilled cheese sandwiches–and its plastic-wrapped tastelessness makes it awesome for little kids.

Back during my “corn abuse” days, I spent a year or two drinking Henry McKenna Bourbon, which was inexpensive and really quite good.  Its label proclaims it “Kentucky’s Finest Table Whiskey.” I loved that image! I could imagine going into any old Kentucky home, from rarified Louisville mansions to coal miners’ shotgun shacks, and there, right smack in the middle of the kitchen table, you’d find a jug of Bourbon.

I missed work last night (stabby feet/meds haze), and I watched “Casablanca.” Every time I watch that film, I feel like I was born in the wrong era. In “Casablanca,” everybody smoked and drank copiously. A couple times, characters lit a fresh cigarette off their nearly finished one. I can imagine going to these people’s houses. They’d have crystal decanters filled with table whiskey, and cigarette boxes, giant ashtrays, and table lighters throughout their sitting rooms.

In “Casablanca,” this random hot girl Rick had been mounting gets all weepy and clingy. Rick doesn’t tell her to sober up or go to an AA meeting. He just tells Sasha not to serve her anymore drinks, and to take her home in a cab. “You’ve had a little too much to drink.”

I look at that age–smoky gin joints with big bands–and I can only see the coolness.  Douglas Coupland had a great image in his book “Life After God.” He’s describing how this blonde friend of his would embody how future anthropologists would romanticize late 20th Century life: they’d see her with a suntan and blonde hair, driving a convertible down a coastal highway, eating a birth control pill, on her way to buy real estate. 

That image misses so much of what that girl’s real life was, same as I miss what life was really like in the 40’s.  The world was at war; people were dying, not only from bullets and bombs, but from polio and smallpox and crap we’ve largely eradicated today. 

Oh. And lung cancer and cirrhosis.

One thing they weren’t consuming is Swedish Fish, which weren’t discovered until 1959.  The Vichy French, Nazi Germans, and assorted other Casablancan ne’er do wells could ease their hangovers with Gummibärchen, aka Gummi Bears, which–like Hitler–began their early rise to power in post WW1 Germany.

It’s foggy tonight here in Gomorrah, same as it was that night Victor Laszlo and Ilsa flew off together.  She had to choose between possibly the all-time coolest earthling–Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine–and the bland, unamusing Victor Laszlo.  (Rick had his own bar and piano player, ffs. Laszlo just had a giant, self-righteous stick up his ass).  She wanted Rick, but Rick knew the bore would be better for her, so he cut her loose.  

Victor Laszlo doesn’t deserve Ilsa, and Lord knows she deserves better than him.  Maybe it’s fitting that they use the letters of transit to go to America, where he’ll resemble our boring namesake processed cheese food. Give Ilsa a year with Mr Excitement, and she’ll be hopping the first plane back to Bogie faster than you can say “Would it KILL you to smile??” She’d light a cigarette, take a big slug of whiskey. “And pass me the frakken Gummibärchen, you sanctimonious bore.”

Happy Friday.


9 Responses to “Thursday Night in the Fog”

  1. I watched Casablanca and… I didn’t like it. 😦

    I’m a sad excuse of a person. Haha.

    • I still love ya. 🙂

      Truth be told, I didn’t like Casablanca as much the first time either. I think it had been so built up, that I was expecting something different. It’s grown on me, needless to say, and it’s one of my favorite films ever.

  2. Can you please tell it to warm up before I turn up in the area at the end of the month? Plzthx?

    Swedish Fish are like English muffins in England. They just call them “muffins” and what we think of as muffins are “American muffins”.

    • We were in the mid-70’s all week. (Yes, Fahrenheit, not 70’s Kelvin like you’re used to ;)) If it is cold when you’re here, I shall lend you Ana-Sofia Vargas to toastify your hands.

      Swedish Fish in America are actually embossed with “Swedish,” I guess so we don’t confuse them with Latvian Fish. Also, “North American Swedish Fish” are made in Canada, and are sold in Sweden. At Ikea, of course.

      I’ll treat for a bag when you visit my sandbar. 😀

      • I would be very good to Ana-Sofia Vargas if she deigned to warm my hands.

        I should bring you some of the Canadian candy bars that all the US peeps seem to like when we get together.

    • I guess once you’ve smuggled Cocoa Puffs across the border, you just can’t stop, eh? 😉

  3. Kristen (with a "K") Says:

    We had Gummy Bears, frozen orange juice and Toblerones. And some other assorted candies I can no longer remember. (Doesn’t EVERY school sell these things???) How did we not have Swedish Fish?

    As to the weather, at least we are melting now. Which will bring fog…which, according to Stephen King, will bring VERY large insects.

    I think I may stay home, eat a bag of SF and watch Casablanca…

    • Stephen King wrote a short story called (I think) “Strawberry Spring,” about this super thick fog they used to get in this college town…and the serial murders that took place thereunder.

      Tallahassee used to get awesome fog. Our fog here is usually pretty crappy, but we’ve had a couple good nights.

      I remember there were also ice cream, bagel, yogurt, and donut sales. I’m not sure, but I think Ms Gaskins used to sell human organs from her portable. The world got less interesting the day she died. Safer, probably, but less interesting.

      Casablanca and Swedish Fish are a most excellent combination. Highly recommended. 🙂

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