I woke up in a decent mood today, I really did. Got the kids fed and on the bus and then went running. I even recorded my fasted mile of the new year. Showered, dressed and did a few errands. I brought along my notepad with the idea of having a working a lunch at my favorite local fast food establishment. I walked to the corner and order my usual--a large soda. The cashier gave me a sad smile and said that they were out of fountain drinks and then mumbled something. She averted her eyes because she knows me as a customer pretty well and she might have been afraid that I was going to start crying, because what she told me was that my favorite local fast food establishment was transferring over to another brand of soft drink.
I managed not to cry (while still in the store, at least), but the change represents a serious blow to my relationship with the once favorite fast food establishment. I realize that a restaurant switching brand loyalty is a relatively low level trauma on the tragedy-o-meter, but I'm going to have a hard time dealing with this one. You see, I wrote a good deal of Generation Dead there, and even larger chunk of Kiss of Life. I liked writing there because the booths were padded and not that creaky molded plastic that shrieks like a trapped pig when patrons plant themselves upon it. the tables were at the right height for writing or typing onto the laptop, and wide enough to be comfortable. The lighting is mostly natural, the long wall of windows providing sunshine a hilltop view of the busy street beyond, so you don't have any of that ghastly fluorescent lighting that for some reason all the other places around couple with white and pastel color schemes. Note to the FF chains: avoid white. You might think that it will help you showcase the cleanliness of your eateries, but actually the reverse is true. The interiors of most fast food places aren't designed with comfort in mind, the idea being that uncomfortable patrons will be more likely to bolt their food and get the heck out. They had a big dining area, and weren't overly busy, and they didn't seem to mind that I would stay there for hours at a clip consuming vast quantities of my favorite soft drink, typing and listening to music on my iPod.
I wonder if I drank so much soda that my consumption began to east into their profit margins? Maybe I have no one to blame but myself for this horrible occurrence.
I'll admit that my feelings regarding this particular fast food establishment stray from simple preference into the land of superstition. In fact, most of my preferences have more to do with superstition than utility. There is a certain brand of pens I prefer to use, a certain pad of paper. I don't start typing, usually, until a certain part of the process. A certain playlist on the iPod. If I'm in my home office, a certain brand of incense. I have a lucky shirt. Certain writing problems are best solved at the dining room table, problems of a certain other type are best solved in the library. Not the local library, a library two towns away, where I need to be sitting at a specific desk, much like I prefer a certain table at the fast food place. I can and will make do in the absence of the "perfect" conditions, but the process seems to go a lot more smoothly if everything is just the way I like it. I have other superstitious practices too arcane to mention, ones that are much less sensible that preferring a certain type of pen. Beliefs and practices, in other words, that even I'm aware aren't really sane.
But I'm also aware that many other writers also have similar superstitions. Not that we're uniquely crazy. I think people in other professions are just as nuts but they don't get the good press that we do. For some reason people enjoyed hearing about Wade Boggs having chicken before every game, and they might be interested to know that Dan Waters has to "Safety Dance" backwards into his office before writing fiction(only fiction, I do the Humpty Hump for any other type of writing), but if Mary in customer service two cubicles down rubs the belly of a vinyl Cartman before taking a call, they probably ditch her at lunch break.
Long, rambling story short (forgive me, this is really, sob, hard for me right now), my "good place" for writing has been compromised. I could go and drink the other brand of soda (as I will in a restaurant), but it just won't be the same. The specific set of conditions that made that place an preferable venue have changed, and the luck that I felt while writing there has gone. I could feel it as soon as I looked over at the soda fountain, my beloved brand covered over with ugly gray electrical tape. I'll have to find another hideout for when I need a change of venue.
Or maybe Mary will lend me her plastic Cartman?
Curse you, February! You've won this round!