The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. Speaking in terms of building blocks, the foundational pieces of American society in the 21st century, which would you say is most vital: Doritos, Pop-Tarts, or Kool-Aid? Why?
When I was a kid, there was no water. You just turned on the faucet and Mr. Pibb came out. At breakfast, parents served their children Hawaiian Punch. At lunch, schools served Tang. At student sporting events, young athletes sat on the sidelines in various states of dehydration and waited for the game to be over so they could go through a McDonald’s drive-thru for a Coke served in a paper cup the size of a toothpaste cap. When I went away to summer camp, we survived on “bug juice,” which is the scientific word for Kool-Aid. Truth be told, any Generation X’er can go seven months without drinking actual water. We have stores of other beverages—such as the above mentioned, but primarily Shasta and Kool-Aid—in our spleens, so, Regis, final answer, I’m going to go with Kool-Aid, aka: “Seventies Evian.”
Wow, I couldn’t have hoped for a more thorough opinion of Kool-Aid. OK, we’ve established your favorite, but this answer makes me wonder what you have to say on Doritos and Pop-Tarts.
Heads up for false advertising: Cool Ranch Doritos are NOT Doritos drenched in chilled Hidden Valley, nor are they “Ranch Doritos” that are hip. Rather, these are Doritos from a place called “Cool Ranch”—a ruthless, euphemistically-named, weight-loss camp in Utah.
Here’s a fun fact: my first real job out of college was editing a senior citizens’ travel magazine. I spent most of my time at a desk in a windowless basement writing articles about Branson (Missouri not Richard), and the only bright spot of my job was a vending machine down the hall that sold Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts. I ate six per day (30 per work week, 120 per month), which—to bring us full, fat circle—is how I know about Cool Ranch.
2. If you could make up your own cartoon animal alter-ego, what species would they be, and what would they be named? Would they have any special abilities or attacks?
A pigeon named Amelia Airshart who poops only on Hummers.
Full anthropomorphization? Does she fly a plane avec goggles, scarf, helmet, and jacket?
Just goggles. And maybe she has a catch phrase like “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” Wait. That’s been taken. I’m really dating myself here. Anyway, I think cartoon animals should always be missing an article of clothing. Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh are trouserless. Mickey is shirtless. The only ones who are ever fully clothed are the female characters, so, in the spirit of equality, Amelia Airshart should be completely naked save for eyewear.
3. What leading woman/man do you find most terrifying? Why?
If you’re talking about Hollywood, it’s a tough call between Mr. Bean and Tilda Swinton.
You’re sort off pushing the bounds of “leading,” but fair enough. Let’s say you had to choose one to terrify you for the rest of eternity—assuming a certain dispassion here in that, presumably, the normal impulse would be to limit your fear exposure for the rest of eternity—who would you pick? Would Bean or Swinny be more likely to make you go full Amelia?
Tilda. She’s what I look like in February without mascara, which is about as horrifying as it gets. I’m imagining her right now, standing behind my bathroom sink, holding a giant picture frame around her face and me walking into the bathroom to brush my teeth and then seeing her and thinking I’m looking in a mirror and then me dropping dead. That’s it. That’s how I go. Cause of death: Tilda Swinton. Please mention that in the obit. No one ever says how someone died in the obit, which is total BS. “Died peacefully at home” is the original definition of “fake news.” Please tell us: cardiac arrest, toe cancer, autoerotic asphyxiation, Tilda Swinton.
4. Do you think you could drive someone insane simply by painting their entire house the same color, both inside and out?
Like the White House?
It’s not white inside, Whitney. But it probably should be given the current inhabitant. Any ideas on how we might make that happen?
Well, if you Google-Image “Melania Christmas 2017” that’s about as white as it gets. (Unless we’re talking Tilda Swinton.) If you are not aware of how the First Lady had the White House decorated for Christmas last year, just picture this: upside-down brooms spray-painted white and jammed into milk jugs, knee-deep cocaine, a Klansman shuffling down a deserted corridor, strobe lights, crystal dishes of bleached peppermints, a cage of twelve arctic foxes, Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” playing on loop.
5. The more humane choice: Cat collars made of fish or dog muzzles made of meat?
We just bought our cat a collar. It’s not made of fish, but it has little fish skeletons printed on it to make the cat feel better about looking like the neighborhood a-hole. It also has a jingle bell. He will likely be murdered soon. Remember when Lady Gaga wore prosciutto to the Grammys? Have you ever eaten a candy bracelet? Once, at a bachelorette party, someone gave the bride a pair of edible underwear. They were basically just Fruit Roll-Ups rolled out in the shape of a thong. I’m thinking there’s an untapped market here. I forgot the original question, but cheese socks.
6. What is best in life?
Tacos, Kids Baking Championship (seriously watch this), our National Park System, and time. Time to enjoy things, time to make things, time to get it right, do better.
Whitney Collins’s fiction appears in New Limestone Review, Grist, LUMINA, The Pinch, Pamplemousse, The Gateway Review, and Shirley Magazine and is forthcoming in Ninth Letter and Moon City Review. Her story, “Daddy-o,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize. Her nonfiction can be found on various sites, including: Salon, Huffington Post, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Weeklings, where she served as a Contributing Editor, and The Big Jewel, where she sits on the editorial board. She is currently pursuing her MFA at Spalding University and lives in Kentucky with her husband and sons. www.whitneycollins.com
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Weeklings, Entropy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press in 2017. He is currently at work on a novel, The Book of Loki, and a hybrid collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Superman, the Seven Gods of Death, and the Need for Clean, Romantic Poetry. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.