The other night Tim and I had a conversation about my strange obsession with Big Gulps. You know the 7-11 slogan, "Oh Thank Heaven for 7-11"? 7-11 should probably thank heaven for me.
It all started when I was 13 or 14. I was in this performance troupe in my hometown. An older girl named Sara took me under her wing. She was 2 or 3 years older, drove an ancient Volkswagen Bug (which I thought was way cool) and for some reason wanted to hang out with me. She would pick me up in that loud little car and we would go to 7-11 before class or rehearsal to get a Big Gulp. (Her a Diet Coke, me a Dr. Pepper.) I'd never been privy to the joy of the Big Gulp before. My parents didn't expose me to junk food or fast food or very large chemically drinks with long straws. (Thanks, guys. No, really.) The Big Gulp made me feel grown up in some strange commercialized homogenized but rebellious way.
We would get the drinks and have to balance them between our legs as we bumped along the road to the theatre building. This was before 7-11 made the cups smaller at the bottom to fit into cup holders. (I doubt the Bug had cup holders anyway, now that I'm thinking about it.) I remember the insides of my legs going numb from the cold of the cup, a wonderful sensation in the middle of a West Texas summer. We'd get to class and set the enormous drinks to the side. They'd be there when we broke for lunch, maybe a bit watered down but delicious still, waiting to be drank up. I loved that it took two hands to hold the drink. I loved that it wouldn't run out for a long long time. I would never go thirsty again!
In college, my obsession was cemented with one viewing of the film Reality Bites. In the movie, Winona Ryder and Ben Stiller sit on top of a car at night and wax philosophical about my favorite beverage! I wasn't the only one who adored the Big Gulp! Winona Ryder backed me up and she was awesome. I would grab one of these bad boys in the morning for breakfast. It would go to classes with me, and later rehearsal. It was my friend, my nourishment and often the caffeine I needed to counteract my hangover. It was beautiful.
The other night I explained all of this to my very amused husband. We conservatively calculated that I have consumed around 3,000 Big Gulps over the last 18 or 19 years. Yes, they are silly and way too big and an obnoxious symbol of American excess. No, I didn't need all that soda, all the chemicals and sugar and who knows what else. But, gosh darnitt I love my Big Gulp. I'm saying it loud, I'm saying it proud: Big Gulp, I am yours.
7-11, you're welcome.
*photo by Aameerules.