- Brandon Soderberg
- The menthol nature of Blue Frost inspires Kool-Aid Ice Kool memories.
Begin with Blue Frost’s cool, intense, menthol smell and taste that lightly numbs your mouth, which got me remembering how, back in the ‘90s, there was a big deal arrival of a new Kool-Aid subgenre called Kool-Aid Ice Kool that was essentially menthol Kool-Aid. (As Wikipedia says, it “gave the drinker a cooling sensation.”) Indulging some Proustian remembrances of ‘90s bullshit past, I went to YouTube and watched a Kool-Aid Ice Kool commercial someone had uploaded where the Kool-Aid guy wearing um, giant khaki shorts for some reason, concocts the “cool” Kool-Aid (in two flavors: Lemon Ice, Arctic Green Apple) in his lab and hands it to a crew of kids he’s hanging out with. “Something’s happening,” one kid says. Another one finishes the thought, “In my mouth.” Then I spotted, below the video, a YouTube comment which reads, “Kool-Aid is a damn pedo, hanging with the kids, wearing only those shorts.”
And then, oh man, that around-your-eyeholes tingle and an arms-and-legs-and-all-the-appendages lightness, and after that, tension flew right out of me, almost too fast. I wasn’t full of anxiety anymore and only the idea of anxiety stuck around: Whatever was in my head that I was stressing about was still there, but now in concept only, and all the worry, melancholy, analysis, second-guessing and so on (in other words, the hard parts of caring and feeling) were absent. My Bloody Valentine’s song “I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It),” came to mind. I had a wide-eyed empathy for the characters of Stranger Things and everybody else going through some things. And it was clear to me that sequels, almost always bigger and dumber than the original, are also about us reliving trauma and watching characters we allegedly care about relive it too, which is kind of perverse, and this whole second season cleverly, kindly, makes that clear — its overarching theme is PTSD and the ways that we never really quite overcome it. A stoner stoicism stirred inside me, my menthol-ish mouth kept low-key vibrating for a couple of hours, and I wanted to cry.
Nose: A far-too-hoppy new microbrew
Existential dread: 2
Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 2
Drink pairing: Kool-Aid Ice Kool Lemon Ice (discontinued packets purchased on eBay)
Music pairing: Terry Riley, A Rainbow in Curved Air