Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another Dark Day in February

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!


matthew dow smith said...

Umm, Dan... I'm not sure how to say this, but do the letters O, C, or D mean anything to you?

Of course, I'm the guy who's drawn every single comic I've ever done with the same mechanical pencil (it's a nice green one I've had since I was a kid), and when I can't find it, I go into a full-fledged freak-out.


Daniel Waters said...

Matt said:

I'm not sure how to say this, but do the letters O, C, or D mean anything to you?

Well of course they do! They all letters with curves, which means I must trace them with my index finger!

Yazzie, The differently biotic kid said...


you're cursing me y'know seeing as i was born in Feb, as you know. =P

If something bad happens to me on the 25th i'm blaming you!!!


Anonymous said...

I will weep for your soda brand tonight. Some tears seem to be in order.

Be Strong.

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Yaz!

You know you are totally exempted from my curses. I'm glad you were born.

take care,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi KG's Babygirl!

I know, I know. I'm pathetic.

Take care,

Becca Rainbow Monster said...

I'm sorry, I'm the same way. I can't play a single song on my flute until i clean it twice each morning and twice after each session.
Here's a thought, though-
you could go to your local food store and buy a bottle of your favorite soda (or 12 bottles), then drink them at the place. It's not exactly the same, but could still work.
I hope this helps.

Meg/Minx said...

Awwwwwweee! that sucks. :(

But, ya know, it's always good to try new things. You never know, you might like this brand better than the last one. :)
Good luck!

RC Horn said...

I so understand that! I'm similar, I have to write while I'm in my kitchen, type at Barnes & Evil sitting in one specific seat near the outlet, review at my *sniff* now ex, fiance's bookroom, and problems are either worked out in my bookroom, or in my tree *hugs my tree* I too have lost a sacred place, and this month to boot!

Yazzie, The differently biotic kid said...

Another Reason to like February:

Valentines day!!

A pointless day in which you get chocolates and other love-related rubbish xD

Vegasaurus said...

Awe I'm sorry that your beloved fast food joint has betrayed you. Take care! Maybe you could just bring some of that soda to the place and write. :3


Lauren said...

you are hilarious! and an excellent writer! I burst out laughing when i read your description about the comfy seats!

I will mourn the loss of the soda brand.

Daniel Waters said...

Hey Becca!

See, the thing is I like the fountain soda...which a friend says is an anachronism, btw. What should I say instead? The soda dispenser? The soda machine?

Take care,

Hi Meg!

I've had this other brand many, many, many times. And it isn't bad, I can drink it...but it isn't the one I want! Waaaa!

Take care,

Hi RC!

"Sacred place" is the appropriate term. I sympathize with your loss as well. Good luck in finding a new one.

Take care,

Hi Yazzie!

Happy V-day to you, too!

Take care,

Hi Vegasaurus!

Thanks. I think they might throw me out though if I brought my own.

Take care,

Hi Lauren!

Thank you, I appreciate it.

Take care,

Delaney the Undead said...

Someone already got to this, but im agreeing with them when i say...


lol...I know allll about it, trust.

Not sure what to tell you about the soda change, other than finding a new ritual to make you feel that the wrong has been righted. Who knows? It might be fun trying to find a new way to make things work (as long as it doesnt involve those darn deer again).

Happy late VDay.


Jenni said...

I do not have any little superstitions such as these, but I completely understand whee you are coming from. Even if you are not superstitious, things like this affect you. I'm not big on change myself...

Anonymous said...

Um, losing your favourite soda brand doesn't really compare next to the tragedy that happened on the 12th (and by that I mean the Buffalo plane crash that killed 50 people).

lzz said...

I guess you can say I am the same way, whenever I am typing a story or article for my schools paper, I only listen to 1 playlist on my Windows Media/iPod(s) and oddly... their are only 2 or 3 songs I listen to. Then there is when I pick between lying down and sitting up, with my laptop.

But I am sorry for your favorite soda brand being replaced, it must really suck. :(

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Delaney!

Happy late V-day to you, too!

Don't worry about me--I'll be okay.

Take care,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Jenni!

Thanks for the vote of sympathy. I actually like change, just not...certain change. Like soda brands.

Take care,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Anonymous,

Certainly not. Light years away.

Take care,

Daniel Waters said...

Hi Izz!

What are the songs? I must say I love the playlist feature.
...and I just find out there is a "stopwatch" setting on the iPod, which is great for running.

Take care,