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Legends of the Big Gulp
2002-06-02 12:02:16


Beverotology Today
 
You are hereby absolved of the curse, my son. Go ye and fornicate freely.
-- That One

 

One of the rewards of having friends from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds is that, by sharing their rituals and traditions, your own horizons are broadened. I've recently had the luck to witness a bit of the rich heritage shared by white boys in the bedroom community of Walnut Creek. The traditional foodways of Walnut Creek include many spicy and exotic dishes such as Mini Pizza Pockets and Instant Four-Cheese Pasta Helper. But flavorful as they are, none of these foods share in the loving reverence - the intense mystique - that surrounds the Big Gulp.

Originally, the Big Gulp was only brewed by the priestly caste of Walnut Creek during certain astrologically auspicious times of the year. And although the recipe has been carried across the world during the Suburban Diaspora and is no longer tabu to outsiders, the drink is still invested with a quasi-religious significance. My suburban friend Johnnie regards the Big Gulp as the pinnacle of western civilization. If Ben Franklin were transported by a time machine to California in 2002, the first thing Johnnie would like to do is buy Franklin a Big Gulp.

The Big Gulp is one of these subjects that takes seconds to understand and a lifetime to master. The basic concept is simple: one may obtain, at certain authentic ethnic establishments like 7-11, a very large plastic cup. This cup (which symbolically represents the Holy Grail) grants the bearer the right to leave the establishment with a quantity of soda pop. In exchange for the cup and the pop, the supplicant is expected to leave a nominal donation. (These few coins represent the "ferryman's fee," for on a metaphorical level, the cup-bearer has obtained a draught from the River Styx.)

The variations on this simple ritual, however, are numerous. For one thing, a "big" Gulp is actually available in four different sizes, ranging from a Small Gulp to a Double Gulp. While at first glance all this pageantry may seem bewildering, insiders to the Big Gulp tradition can navigate the complexities with ease. On a very informative website, I learned that the small gulp is "soooo sucky that only morons get it." And my friend Johnnie concurs, while adding that the Double Gulp, at 64 ounces, is so large as to be "silly." The 44-oz Super Big Gulp is, however, widely favored. Thus are younger suburbanites gently taught that one man's "big" is another man's "sucky," and that the most rewarding path is one of moderation.

In this modern age, however, traditional societies often find their customs disrupted by the pressures of modern urban life. The Big Gulp, sadly, has not been exempt. Terrible cup shortages have wracked the 7-11s. Two separate waves of shortages have occured nationwide over the past two years - but the mainstream media gave the crisis no coverage. I hate to cry "racism." But when I learn that a shortage devastating to the suburban communities was allowed to continue unchecked while I, and the rest of America, went about our ordinary lives in the inner cities, well, I feel that the media is unthinkingly participating in what amounts to a cover-up.

If you want to help, the best thing you can do is help sustain the Big Gulp tradition. Find a 7-11 near you! These unassuming little hideaways are usually not hard to find, once you know what you're looking for. Also, I can point you to no better online resource than "The Big Gulp Page," where you can download Big Gulp wallpaper for your desktop and learn about which soda pop flavors are the best. The site's content is as informative as it is straightfoward. Apparently, the most frequently asked question is "Why isn't this a site about Slurpees?" And the author responds, with admirable restraint and simplicity: "Because it is a site about Big Gulps. I don't like Slurpee's anymore."

The author hopes to someday create a Big Gulp webring, and every little hit may take him closer to his dream. Meanwhile, I hope others may experience the traditions of friendliness and hospitality that I have had the pleasure of sharing during my travels through Walnut Creek.

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

yaddayadda@pigdog.org


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