Wednesday, April 06, 2005

In praise of pudding

Well, now for something completely different. This is an ode to ... pudding.

Yes, pudding. Yummy, creamy, delicious pudding.

And of course I'm speaking of American pudding. In the U.K., as you probably know, they use pudding to mean any dessert. "Sticky toffee pudding" is sticky, and delicious, and one of my favorites, but it's not pudding.

I love chocolate pudding; vanilla pudding (especially warm off the stove); rice pudding, tapioca pudding, pistachio pudding; even butterscotch pudding ... which isn't really butterscotch but instead some other taste that doesn't exist in nature.

A quick sidebar: when I was in high school, I was on the Speech & Debate team. The Speech part of that was mainly Oral Interp, as it was called. In the various categories - Serious, Drama, Humor, Poetry - you would stand and read an eight-minute selection from a book or play, turning your head and providing the voices of the different characters. I once did a piece with nine characters - it was like school-sponsored schizophrenia.

One of the girls who always scored well did a piece from the delightful, frothy little play called Night, Mother. You know, the one where the daughter commits suicide to escape her overbearing mother. One of the lines from the piece was delivered in the down-homey fake pseudo-Southern accent that all high-school actresses love; the line was, "Rice puddin's goooood." This line and the particular delivery this girl gave it has stuck in my brain for the last twenty years; my sister and I will recite it to each other, having nothing better to do. Because, of course, it speaks the truth. Rice puddin' IS good.

Early on in this blog, I made reference to the chilling, birdlike cries of some of my exes. Well, wouldn't you know that the ex I was referring to actually read that post. So I feel I should explain. And there's a pudding connection.

Mr. Ex, as we will call him, is an actor, director and writer; he is excellent at all three. In fact, he is without a doubt one of the funniest actors I've ever seen on stage - and I'm including all the Broadway plays I've been to. I've watched Mr. Ex reduce an audience to tears with no lines - a simple routine involving him being on a bunkbed trying to snag a tray left below - it sounds like nothing, but it was pure genius in its vaudevillian simplicity.

He was also gifted at doing a million different voices. One of the more terrifying was the voice of the Skeksis.

Now, the rest of this post hinges on you having seen The Dark Crystal - the 1982 fantasy film produced by the Jim Henson workshop. The film is populated entirely by puppets - the elfish Gelflings, the old and wise urRu, and the evil Skeksis. The Skeksis were like decayed reptilian birds, with a trilling screech. Frank Oz supplied the voices I believe. Mr Ex would occasionally lapse into Skeksis-speak and do a few lines from the movie. It was chilling.

So, there were were, living together while I was in my last year of graduate school. I was extraordinarily stressed out, and when I am stressed, I eat. What do I eat? Comfort foods. Mashed potatoes ... pizza ... fried chicken .... and pudding. Mmm, pudding. Mr Ex had his own comfort foods: Marlboro Lights and Diet Pepsi.

At the time, I believe he was working in a seafood restaurant near the United Nations whose coked-out owners were busy running a successful business into the ground. Mr Ex and the other waiters had to prepare their own seafood appetizers, so they were constantly suffering from contact dermatitis caused by being elbow-deep in vats of oysters all night long. It was a hard job, and all Mr Ex really wanted at the end of the night was to come home to a chilled sixpack of Diet Pepsi.

I believe my sister was visiting, when Mr Ex came home to find a refrigerator devoid of Diet Pepsi, but full of pudding. He doesn't care for pudding. The stress caused the Skeksis to take over his body, and hiss and screech something like this:

"Oooooh, no, there is no Diet Pepsi for Jonn, ooooo noooooo, noooo Diet Pepsi. But there is alwayyyys PUDDDING! Yessss! PUUUUUUDDDDDINNNNG! Plenty of PUDDDDDING for RAAAAHHHB."

Perhaps you had to be there. It was hilarious and terrifying. Much like our relationship.

The sad thing is, even pudding can lose its allure. I was shopping for food last night, as I'm here in New York for a couple of weeks and the cupboard was bare. I looked at the pudding. It didn't seem all that appealing. Instead, I was craving fruit. What is wrong with me?

I'm sure I'll get over this silly fruit infatuation. And when I do, and go crawling back to pudding, pudding will be there, waiting. It's always waiting, ready to enfold me back into its sticky, creamy embrace. Pudding forgives you for trying to leave. Pudding knows you would never love a mango as much as you love pudding.

Rice puddin's good.


Blogger David said...

As fond as I am of Jonn, perhaps much of this episode is explained by the fact that Diet Pepsi is a poison that dissolves one's brain. Also, I like pudding more than a mango, too, but I also don't like mango. But give me a nice Jamba Juice, and puddin's history.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Hanuman1960 said...

I'm sitting here at work, trying to stifle my laughter, so that my staff will not think that I am completely insane!

I LOVED The Dark Crystal!!!! My best friend and I used to talk to each other in the Skeksis voices all the time! What a riot! Thanks for bringing back good memories!

P.S. I love pudding too! (Although now, I make it with soymilk. Delicious and cruelty-free!)

6:32 AM  
Blogger David said...

"Cruelty-free" to the cows, maybe. To yourself, on the other hand ...

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Mmm, pudding. I even like bread pudding, which really isn't pudding at all. But delicious.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

So I guess the next question would be: Cooked, Instant or Pre-Made?

1. Cooked - how pudding should truly taste
2. Pre-Made - Jello brand is not bad when you're in a hurry.
3. Instant - only to my enemies...blech!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

What is this Jamba Juice I keep hearing about?

I too love pudding. I've made my own tapioca, but also love Kozy Shack's Dulce de Leche. Yum!

9:05 PM  
Blogger eyduck said...

Have you played the Bill Cosby game? Where you lure the innocents with the call of your tasty pudding before bludgeoning them with a camera?

Oh, the power of pudding.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Frenzy Lohan said...

It's important to praise pudding.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Faustus, M.D. said...


Who are you and what have you done with Rob?

2:57 PM  

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