Friday, April 21, 2017

The Ghastly Menace

Fritos are not just for food anymore...and other cautionary tales from  April 20.

Visiting the Northern Neck today came with the added bonus of my oldest nephew being there as well as getting to explain the genesis of the holiday 4/20 to my Mom while my Dad and nephew chortled mightily. Mom just rolled her eyes.

It was over a lazy lunch on the screened-in porch that we began discussing the significance of Fritos in the cosmic scheme of things. Family law dictates that liverwurst sandwiches can only be served with Fritos, and despite not having liverwurst today, we were having Fritos. Nephew pointed out that they were the heaviest chip because of all the oil, which makes them handy when he's hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Fritos can be used as emergency fire starters, he informs us, like oil-soaked kindling sticks you can buy. Tor prove his point, he lighted one - not even a Scoop, just a regular one - right there at the lunch table. It flared at the touch of a match, impressing us with its instantaneous flame.

I only hope the Girl Scouts know this.

It was a gorgeous day to be at the river - all kinds of fragrant flowers and bushes in bloom, the water half a dozen shades of blue - and an unexpected opportunity to be learning which snacks are flammable. I'm always happy to learn.

Keeping the holiday theme going, I put on my flowered rubber boots to walk over in the pouring rain to Coalition Theater for "It's a Wonderful Plant," a comedic take on a world without weed (see: Frank Capra, spinning in his grave) and an outgrowth of the "High There!" live comedy series - I'd seen three humorous episodes - they'd done.

The boots ensured that no puddle was too deep to ford, no downspout too powerful to stick my foot under, no uneven juncture of the pavement unworthy of exploration. Granted, a few overly-zealous splashes did result in some interior boot splattering, but, truthfully, I brought that on myself, and my feet were barefoot inside the boots so what did it matter?

No need to worry about a lot on 4/20. Better to laugh.

With a guardian angel trying to earn his bong, "It's a Wonderful Plant" made a strong case for rollin' and bowlin' over reading "Cat Fancy" magazine and praying with your family, which is apparently what happens when people don't have weed. Oddly enough, in a world without pot, people use McDonald's coffee to alter their reality and things are really tense, making for some pretty hilarious sketch comedy.

And once live comedic actors have reminded you that the world is a better place where the devil's salad is served, any earnest 4/20 celebrant (or, ahem, any pathetic student of popular culture who hasn't seen it) really has no choice but to head to the Byrd to see a late screening of "Reefer Madness."

Like me, the ballet dancer (who moved here last Fall from Charlotte and is loving Richmond) in front of me in the popcorn line was a "Reefer" virgin and, like me, she was there as a student of cultural history. Where I was able to blow her mind was in telling her that even when I was in college, this was a very old and dated cult classic film.

"Wow, I had no idea it was that old," she marveled, with no clue of the implication there.

The sheer melodrama of a black and white 1936 church-made piece of propaganda about the violent narcotic and unspeakable scourge that was destroying the fabric of American youth had those of us in the audience howling in laughter just reading the introduction. And my goodness, when we got to the scenery-chewing histrionics of the low-budget actors, the crowd's younger members were groaning and giggling in agony at the remnants of old-school silent-era over-acting.

Now that I think about it, it sounded a lot like the uncontrollable laughter that the film said was the first effect of using the demon drug.

Once I'd had the full range of 4/20 experiences, I could wade through the sticky air to go home. Walking past my neighbor's porch, he called out asking how I was doing tonight. Great, I told him, because it feels like a warm summer night and I love that. "You can't ask for more!" he called as I rounded my garden.

Unless it's for more Fritos, I can't. I don't.


  1. K...

    Fritos was my go to snack when I was a kid...minus the liverwurst. In those days when the bag was opened it's contents were gone...pretty quickly. Now I just don't purchase....but if offered I might sneak a bit just for old times sake. My fingers get greasy just thinking about them.


  2. That's a perfect way to put it, cw!I don't keep 'em around, either...can't be trusted with a bag.