On Sunday I found myself at 7-11 buying cat food, because that’s what happens when you forget to stock up at the grocery store and then find yourself in the throes of a Meowing Emergency State. I’ve been trying to cut way back on my soda consumption, so of course I made the mistake of looking at the beverage coolers. My eyes were drawn, as they so often are, to the most x-treme ‘90s looking stuff in the case. The black-and-white photos on the labels looked awfully familiar. Sure enough, a closer look revealed a familiar name: Jones.
Jones Soda is a smallish soda company based out of Seattle, known for unusual flavors (approach their holiday packs with caution) and featuring customer-submitted photos on their labels. In my preteen and early teen years, a bottle of Jones was a regular treat on nights my brother and I spent with our dad. I have particularly vivid memories of selecting a flavor and suitably cool label picture on our runs to the supermarket on the way home. I have Ideas about kids of divorce and our weird food attachments, but that will be for a later entry.
Anyway, Jones has been tapped by 7-11 for a line of store-brand sodas. There are five flavors, including unusual-in-the-U.S. fruits like lilikoi and rambutan. I bought them all, because I have no self-control. In my defense, I brought them to a Fiasco session that night to share with friends, thinking a group taste test would be fun. However, my friends are smarter than I am and drank almost none of the soda, leaving me to play Drink Roulette while stabbing everyone in the back and getting off almost scot-free. Jones Soda makes you a character in a Coen brothers movie; pass it on.
This past weekend was one for the ages as far as swallowing strange liquids is concerned. Top three for me, at least.
For the uninitiated (i.e. most folks outside the Chicago area, where it was formerly produced and is primarily distributed), Jeppson’s Malört is a type of bäsk, or Swedish wormwood schnapps. You may recognize wormwood as “that stuff in absinthe that’s supposed to make you trip balls,” if you’re a teenager or an ill-informed, pearl-clutching moral guardian. Neither absinthe nor Malört contain anywhere near enough thujone to make you hallucinate and/or die. The one time I tried absinthe, all I got was a mild buzz followed by a faux-consumptive cough that lasted for a week afterward. I guess you could say the experience was historically accurate in that sense.
Anyway, the worst you can say about wormwood in distilled alcohol is that it’s super gross. Not long after I first came to Chicagoland in the summer of 2005, I saw the famed Malört face for the first time. I don’t have a funny story to tell about the circumstances because my long-term memory is a sieve that strains out virtually everything that isn’t personal humiliation or obscure trivia, but suffice it to say that I was not the one making the face. My friends who were native to the area filled me in and, like the true champions they are, never tried to subject me to that particular rite of passage.
As the years passed, I started to consider it something of a point of pride to have dodged the Malört hazing for so long. Every time I missed a round of shots for the out-of-towners, I gloated a bit. I confided in others that, despite all my years in Chicago, the stuff had never crossed my lips. More than once, I was told I was tempting fate.
After a week of freaking out about an event and attending said event, another week of horrible depression, and a laptop implosion, I’m back! This was the most low-key episode of the season, which means it was both the most bearable and the hardest to eviscerate. I have done my worst.
Episode 4: The Not-So-Great Escape
Another morning in the kitchen. Baby Tommy keeps looking up at the ceiling, tricking Stephanie into following his gaze only to see that there’s nothing there. Steph, you’re my favorite. Please don’t let a baby mindfuck you. It’s only been a few months since he gained sufficient muscle control to look up in the first place. (This gag will keep coming up throughout the episode for little good reason. I have a feeling the writers needed some padding.)
Kimmy is still calling Stephanie “sister-wife.” “It’s your destiny to spend your life with me,” she tells her, with a smooch on the cheek. The scene that launched a thousand fanfics.
We get a glimpse into DJ and Kimmy’s different parenting styles. DJ packs turkey wraps for lunch. Kimmy packs $20 bills. She tells DJ (and us, by proxy) that she feels guilty for all the upheaval she’s put Ramona through lately. DJ rightly points out that bribery isn’t the best way to deal with your kids. Except if you’re bribing them with milkshakes and chocolate cake, that is.
A late-night post for a late-night episode! Kind of.
Episode 3: Funner House
Stephanie and Kimmy are all dressed up for girls’ night out! The audience hoots lasciviously, finally free to sexualize the child stars we grew up with. Did Kimmy just say “on fleek”? Kimmy just said “on fleek.” Of course, the only possible way they can follow that up is to commemorate temporarily not being at odds by posting a selfie to Instagram. Steph has to unblock Kimmy, though. Bet she’s jealous of all those fly-ass accessories that look like food. DJ comes downstairs and “kills” fleek with a “You look fleek!” to the ladies, which is like throwing a drowned horse in a woodchipper.
DJ tries to get out of the girl’s night, which was planned for her, with the old “I have laundry” excuse and assurances that she still has fun because sometimes her baby son sticks his tongue out at her. You know she’s that friend you have on Facebook who has never posted anything that isn’t about her children. The others aren’t letting her off the hook that easily, though. (Kimmy dubs the three of them the She-Wolf Pack, complete with hand-ears and howls. Bitch, you’re not Shakira.) Nothing to wear? They bought DJ a dress. No babysitter? Joey flew in from Vegas, and probably bought a seat for Mr. Woodchuck. You have to go upstairs to change? Screw you, change in the Uber. “What if Uber sees my boobers?” “Well, then you won’t have to tip.” Gross, Joey. Stephanie tries to reassure DJ with a memory of car-changing into a hideous bridesmaid dress after a wild night out. Oh no, it was Kimmy’s wedding! Do those two hate each other or not? Does anyone care?
Stephanie calls the kids out to say hi to Joey, but look, they’re absorbed in their gadgets! KIDS THESE DAYS GET OFF MY LAWN RABBLE RABBLE. The ladies leave and the kids run off. Joey drives the point home with a brick, lamenting about “kids today with the video games and the electronic devices” to Tommy. Of course, he immediately gets a text and wanders off. Hypocrilarious.
Okay, so it took me a few days to get this one up. My brain has already begun the liquefaction process. Let me pace my decline. Have mercy on me. oh no it’s beginning
Episode 2: Moving Day
The episode opens with Max tiptoeing down into the basement and jumping on Stephanie’s bed to wake her for Sunday brunch. She is remarkably calm about telling him to come back at dinnertime. I probably would have used a few more profanities in the same situation. He is persistent, though, excitedly telling her that the pancakes are made with duck eggs “for more nutrition and a deeper flavor profile.” Clearly, the extra protein has left him swole as fuck, because he’s somehow capable of physically dragging his aunt out of bed.
Upstairs in the kitchen, DJ presents Jackson with a seat at the head of the table and a pre-breakfast milkshake. Jackson, possessing basic observational skills, informs her that she’s acting weird and takes the opportunity to ask for hot fudge on his pancakes. Kid, you’re going places. Max finally gets Stephanie upstairs, where she fondly recalls her life as a night person, only for DJ to cover Max’s ears and scold her when she gets to the part about people hooking up. That seems like a slight overreaction, Deej. It’s not like she said “people doing blow and screwing like rabbits in the bathroom stall.” At seven years old, I doubt it would have occurred to me to think that “hooking up” meant anything more than “people making friends and maybe doing smooches.” In fact, six-year-old me thought a virgin was someone who didn’t have their ears pierced, which led to a rather awkward moment with my mother after we got back from the ceremonial trip to Claire’s. So, you know, take anything I say on the subject with a grain of salt.
My mother once told me that she enjoyed watching Full House to see Michelle “grow up” alongside me, as I’m a year younger than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, almost to the day. Of course, now they’re fabulously wealthy and successful in their chosen industry, and I crank out words for whoever will pay me while subsisting largely on 7-11 pizza. Take that, Mom!
I vaguely remember watching some of the later seasons as a kid, but I didn’t really get into the show until I was 16-17, when I started catching it obsessively in syndication. Even then, I recognized it was hokey and sentimental beyond belief, but I was a lonely and alienated teenager and to be quite honest, I didn’t care. It was soothing, a nepenthe for someone with a weird home life. One of my best friends got pregnant and had her first child when she was 18 and I was 17, and it was fun for a time to imagine being the Joey to her Danny, helping out and watching her daughter grow up. (Then I moved to Chicago instead and became the wacky absentee aunt to her kids, who are now 11 and 9 because time is a ceaseless horror.)
While I’m still reminiscing and in a somewhat charitable mood, I will say a few nice things about Full House:
- The actors were, by and large, charming and watchable even with the material they were given.
- The show did its part to champion unconventional family structures and challenge accepted gender roles in parenting, even if only accidentally. (1:10 in this video, from an interview with John Stamos and Dave Coulier back in 1987, is… not a good look.)
- San Francisco is one of my favorite places, even if techbros have ensured I will literally never be able to afford to live there now.
- Cute dog.
- …I’m thinking.
Anyway, the ouroboros of pop culture continues to devour itself. As you can’t avoid knowing, Fuller House debuted on Netflix a week ago and has already been renewed for a second season. I mainlined the entire first season over the weekend and am now rewatching it in finer detail, because I love you too much to make you do it. More importantly, I did it because I hate myself. Most importantly, I did it to mock and overanalyze it for the sake of internet validation.
I’ll be recapping one episode per post, and I’m going to try to make a post per day until it’s done. I’ve also been strenuously avoiding thinkpieces elsewhere online, in order to provide you with relatively unadulterated ~hot takes~.
Have mercy. On my mortal soul.
I know this letter is a bit late, in both the “you’re making your rounds tomorrow night” sense and the “I haven’t believed in you as anything but a social construct in almost two decades” sense. Still, there are some things you simply can’t ask anyone else for, either because you’re enough of a freeloader as is or because they don’t exist yet. Thus, please find my Christmas list below. (Don’t worry, I’ve already been given the gift of chronically lowered expectations.)
- A simple, portable teleportation device without any of the philosophical quandaries that might be posed by disassembling my constituent parts and sticking them back together elsewhere. I will say I want this so I can travel the world on the cheap and see all of my far-flung friends and family, and these things are entirely true. Let’s be real, though, Santa; I mostly want this because my sense of how much time any given thing will take is skewed, and I would like for people not to hate me for my unorthodox approach to punctuality.
- A mattress. I had to throw out my old one in June because it was collapsing in several places and all but saturated with cat piss, and in the absence of either the funds for a new mattress or feasible transport for a used one, I’ve been sleeping on a couch for the last six months. My lower back feels like small children have been using it as a trampoline.
- A subcutaneous Klonopin pump that can track my cortisol levels and preempt panic attacks before I find myself curled up in a public bathroom stall trying to count tiles to distract myself.
- A gigantic down comforter large enough to wrap myself in several times over. I don’t want to be able to see daylight. (why is this not a thing)
- The restored ability to write three consecutive sentences without having to stop and insert a placeholder because my brain is working in elliptical orbits and I can’t make it power through what I want to say in any straightforward manner.
- Fuck it, we’ll go for big pipe dreams. (I’m sorry, Santa. I’m not very good at watching my language. I try to hold my tongue around small children and the chronically infirm.) A modestly sized house in livable condition in or near the city that is fully paid off, because I don’t think I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life where I’ve felt justified in unpacking every single box. The decor can be positively hideous. I will welcome it with open arms.
- An end to our society’s glorification of willful ignorance.
- A bottomless bag of Sour Patch Kids.
Thanks, Santa. I promise I’ve been pretty okay this year. Hope you like Three-Buck Chuck with your snickerdoodles.