Friday, February 27, 2009

Celebrating the Mild Disappointments of My Life

There was a time when these commercials swarmed the airwaves. Friends and couples get together for a night in, perhaps after a hard day, to reminisce over photos and relax in the gentle glow of the other's company. General Foods International Coffees makes its inevitable entrance and the dam breaks on soulful remembrances. The mere taste calls up trips to Paris and Vienna where one or both of them were transfigured by the cafes and waiters with fake names.

This is a risky business.

What if the taste calls up something totally different?

(MONICA, in her floral Jessica McClintock dress and cardigan approaches, bearing a tray full of tea cup and pot. She stirs up some Suisse Mocha from General Foods International Coffees. MARIE is looking through old photos. Everything is a little pink and soft focus.)

MARIE: These sure do bring back some memories. (Sees the tray) Ohh. What's this?

MONICA: (Offering a steaming cup of brown) Taste it.

(MONICA tastes her own cup, and with the warmth of a McDonald's heat lamp:)

MONICA: Remember that night in Mexico City?

(MARIE prepares to take a sip but something stops her as the steam wafts up her nose. Her gentle smiles transform into anxious frowns)


MONICA: (Oblivious) There was that cafe and the two guys from San Tropez? This tastes just like the - What's wrong with you?

MARIE: I-I Don't want any...

MONICA: Just try it.


MONICA: Take a sip.

MARIE: I can't.

MONICA: Can't you share this one thing with me? We were having such a good time...why do you have to ruin it? Now come on -

(MONICA pushes the cup up to MARIE's mouth. MARIE sips, then in one flinging motion bats the cup away)

MARIE: Stop it! Just stop.. I can't drink that..the taste, the TASTE. Suddenly, I feel all alone and, Oh My god....Do you remember prom night when I got ditched and it started to rain?


MONICA: Uh...Uh-huh.

MARIE: That's what this tastes like...I went into that diner and they said I couldn't wait there unless I bought something...

MONICA: Did you, uh, buy Suisse Mocha?

MARIE: Shut up! NO. I didn't. I bought a Coke. But this, THIS is what the inside of that place SMELLED LIKE. Oh, my God, in liquid form!

MONICA: I - I...

MARIE: (Trying to wipe something imaginary from off her body.) God. I feel so lonely. MAKE IT STOP. GET THIS SHIT OUT OF HERE.

(MARIE swipes the tray off the coffee table and it smashes to the ground. A beat. Both women are crying.)

This is the risk you run when peddling smell and taste as a vehicle for pleasant memory.

All this aside, the soft focus and saccharine, I still wanted my General Foods International Coffee scenario. I wanted to have traveled to Paris. I wanted to look through old photos with friends and savor precious memories. I wanted to celebrate the moments of my life.

The first time I tasted General Foods International Coffee was when my Mom purchased some over a Christmas Holiday. My sister and I laughed at the notion, but I think somewhere in both of us we wanted to replicate the scenes from TV...with a hint of irony, of course.

We boiled up some water, dumped a couple of tablespoons into our cups and sipped.

You know what this stuff tastes like? Swiss Miss.

It's all just hot chocolate with some caffeine for good measure.

There were no dreams of Swiss ski trips. No Roman Holiday fantasies. It's hot chocolate. Pure, childlike, and as American as corn shuck.

Oh, well.

It's still hot chocolate. Squirt some whipped cream on top and I'm satisfied.

And for your viewing pleasure:

These women are morons.


joe g said...

I don't find myself thinking about the association between scent and memory, although that does come up fairly often. I remember an old flame, for example, who smelt faintly of Elmer's glue, or perhaps slightly sour milk. Could never tell which.

Rather, I find myself wondering if they cleared the use of the "Bosco" brand name in the "morons" commercial.

I figure they must have, but it seems so strange that it should show up in that spot. I don't think General Mills owned Bosco but I could be wrong...

NotNits said...

College. My senior year. I'm performing in an improv show for a huge room in the Student Union, packed with students returning from summer break.

Mike Brumm and I are playing freeze tag. I reference the "Jean Luc" moment from that first commercial.

I receive the single greatest laugh I have ever received on stage.

That is a moment of my life worth celebrating.

joe g said...

* channels Dr. Hook *

...thasss byootahfull.

Henri D said...

Smell is my favorite sense by far! I have a pretty strong nose and I use it a lot. It weird people out when I say things like, "Wow, your scent reminds me of my 5th grade teacher."

Which, in conjunction with Joe G's first comment, smelled faintly of ditto machine. Which if anyone has even smelled his or her paperwork fresh off the copier (ditto machine) with purple ink, it smells of warm, slightly sour milk.

So I ask you Joe G, was your past flame a teacher?

An that's how Monk does it. Thank you!

deriatio: n- the ratio of negative versus positive stereotypes in a persons library of stereotypes.

joe g said...


At the time, she was a college student. I've no idea what/where she is now.

loummin: in his headlights. The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache.

Tina said...

Is a ditto machine and a copier exactly the same thing? For some reason I always thought a ditto machine was a special piece of equipment especially for schools to make "dittos" because the type was always a sort of faded blue, rather than the smeary black, like the copy machines at my dad's office.

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