Throwing Food From Cars - an experience in creativity, art and in finding your bliss
I always loved a real Philadelphia cream doughnut (one from a bakery) - vanilla cream on the inside, just the tiniest crunch to the outside, and enough powdered sugar to cover the doughnut and a normal 7 foot tall, 400 pound person. You couldn't eat one without looking like you had.
One day, just around the time when the boys at school and I were undergoing that conversion from "boys" to "boys with drivers' licenses", I may have introduced them to my obsession with cream doughnuts. I do know that one Saturday night began with a dozen cream doughnuts from Dunkin'. A dozen! I'd never seen such a thing. My family would occasionally buy a dozen doughnuts, but they would always be an assortment! I never thought to get a dozen of just one kind of doughnut!
As we drove around with white powder covering the fronts of our shirts, we noticed that 8 remained. The memories are blurry now, but I believe we first passed a teacher's house. To me, he was a crappy English teacher (although after he died, he became "one of our best"), and it felt good to pelt his house with a cream rocket, complete with powdered flames trailing behind it. Pitching out of a car window felt so natural, I'm surprised I hadn't done it with my mother and father years earlier. According to my flawed memory, that evening we pelted a car on a dark road where Joanne, one of our high school classmates, often seemed to park and make out. She'd be in the back seat with a senior from some Catholic school, and they had the front windows down because it was a warm evening. A target as big as her hair isn't even a challenge! We also spotted one of our classmates walking down the street, loaded and fired. We missed, but still he was surprised and I swear he walked home with a powdered shoulder.
The powdered cream doughnut is such an expressive implement. The act of throwing one is creative, and it almost always intimately involves the audience. Art at it's best.
Throwing became an occasional ritual (only occasional because of the cost).
Fast-forward a few years to summers when we all came back to our hometown from our respective colleges. Somehow friend Joe got the summer job of guard for the town's park, where they'd recently built a few baseball fields and a covered area for picnics. He worked from sun down to sun up, which really cut down on our hanging-out time with Joe. I believe that, usually, when people were turning off the evening news, Joe was sleeping in a storage closet. Sometimes we'd hang with him, or do drive-bys, scream real loud, and make him jump. One night, post scream, mid-jump we nailed him with a CD. A poof filled the air in front of his official looking shirt. We were amazed that they made him wear an old policeman's hat, but the flashlight was professional grade - pre-LED. The sun was just going down, providing us an opportunity to return and scream real loud. I threw a slider (the type of pitch, not a White Castle burger) - thought it was appropriate. Joe did the creative thing. He caught that toss, tipped his hat, and ate it. I don't know what he was thinking. An airborne cream doughnut is not fast food!
We all finished college and went in different directions. I kept going to school, and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow in a prestigious California University. I worked with a professor and his group of graduate students and other post-docs. We would work hard, long hours, and would play hard too.
One evening the laser clock struck midnight and we were still working in the lab. We decided to make a junk food run. This was a time when extended hours were unheard of for fast food joints, but the Jack In The Box was open. None of us had ever gone there. Personally, the thought of speaking into the big Jack head gave me nightmares, so I avoided it. We bought a bag of burgers and a bag of tacos. If there were an OMFG back then I would have said, "OMFG". The tacos seemed to have been made during WWII and thawed when needed. They were awful. They couldn't even make a decent tasting burger. They were all decorated with some weird sweet pickles that made you just want to, well, made you want to express yourself.
We were at a loss for an appropriate response to inedible fast food. I remembered. It seemed so right, but seemed so wrong. In my distant past, I'd thrown food out of love and respect for the weapon. Could I replace a doughnut with a taco? I needed to try. I needed to share with my new friends the joys of such creative acts. We weren't even out of the parking lot when we'd dug into our bags of food poisoning. I took command and barked out orders.
"Go through the drive-through again, but this time don't stop."
I nailed the Jack head with a taco. It seemed like a good public service announcement. Others would come through, see taco dripping off his head, and know they were not a good choice for the day. Then I switched to heavy artillery, a hamburger, and nailed the drive through window. A pimply guy stood on the other side of the glass and watched it splat. Unlike Joe, he didn't flinch. He looked into my eyes; his face said so much.
They said, "Yes, they do suck. Your decision is the right one."
They said, "Don't think you're so original. We get pelted with our own food every other night."
They said, "aA least I have my window closed, not like last night."
I accepted my responsibility in training the next generation. I encouraged the group to occasionally take late night trips to see Jack. I'd always pay, then encourage them to taste our purchases, to confirm that they still are inedible, then return the food to their place of birth in some creative way. Jack's nose was so sharp you could impale a burger on it. This guy was dangerous! So were we.
I know the price of even crappy tacos is going up, and I'm not sure if Jack in the Box is even open any more, but if they are, I encourage you to do the right thing. Keep the hope alive. Power to the people.
I should also share this story: way back in high school we ended up pelting the same guy, always walking, a number of times. He never seemed to know who we were. That's what happens when you spend so much time taking care of the high school's audio visual aids. When that summer had come to a close, and his walks in the sticky evening air ceased, we managed to get a cream doughnut into an envelope, and mailed it to him. I don't know how well it survived in the mailbox, and we never heard anything about powdered sugar by mail, but it was great fun to provide it to the postal service for delivery. They do challenge an official business envelope.
In the latter years of my life, all I can do is try to tell younger people to find your own cream doughnut. Live your dream. Express yourself creatively. Find that special person, place, thing or idea that makes you smile, and live it to the fullest.
Be the doughnut.