Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Reality is a lot like pudding.

You scoff but just wait. I’ll lay it out for you.

See, reality, like pudding, comes in a wide variety of flavors, textures, colors and, Lord knows, packaging. A lot of folks take the easy route and buy that shit in the little plastic tubs that may or may not have sugar or genuine flavor. It’s easy, it requires no real effort on their part, and it’s cheap. This is the equivalent of predigested reality, one formed entirely by the media: movies, television, video games. It’s pasteurized and homogenized and you don’t have to think, you just have to swallow. This is not your grandma’s pudding, this is the pablum of the damned.

There’s also the stuff that starts in a box as a powder. It does take a little bit of elbow grease. Some of it requires cooking, some says ‘instant’ but we all know instant is never as instant as it implies. At the near end of the spectrum, you might have to wait a whole 5 minutes before you’re supposed to eat it, unless you prefer to suck yours through a straw. There are grainy bits, the consistency resembles a loose slurry of sugar, cream of wheat and gravy. We’ll call this one consensual reality, which is to say everyone agrees that while it could be better, it could be a hell of a lot worse. But the important part is they are still thinking about it.

Now my particular reality is old-school pudding, the kind you make from scratch with whole milk on a stove top. The kind that forms a skin as it cools. And it occurs to me that there are two, possibly three, generations now who have no idea what I’m talking about. “Pudding has SKIN?!?” they gasp in horror. Yes Virginia, it does and it is magically delicious. Be grateful your pores exude sweat and musk instead of sweet milky goodness because I would turn cannibal in a red hot second if it did. That stuff is ambrosia.

But I digress.

See, that skin is not only extremely tasty, it also does one thing very, very well. It makes a clear boundary between me and all you other yahoos. It lets me think my own thoughts, form my own conclusions. It isn’t pasteurized, it doesn’t have to conform. Every batch of my pudding is unique. It’s informed by my experience in making other tasty puddings, by my familiarity with the vagaries of my stove, and by my occasional forays into the spice rack. But there’s a trick to it. It requires patience, persistence--there is a LOT of stirring involved in pudding--, and active thinking because, well, cooking just does.

So this is reality, people. What kind are you going to choose?