And Another Thing

By John Hertz: (reprinted from No Direction Home 15)  Galaxy’s Edge, the new Land at Disneyland Park devoted to George Lucas’ Star Wars, has a Milk Stand that sells blue milk.

In the Star Wars story, it comes from banthas.

The Disney version is made of coconut and rice, served frozen.

But it reminds me of an adventure in my checkered youth.

I’d read Howard Fast’s 1959 novelette “The Martian Shop” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November; Robert P. Mills was the editor then).  I must have seen it in A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Mills ed. 1960), held in that public library yet today.

There was an active s-f community where I was living, but I didn’t find it and it didn’t find me.   I was introduced to fandom years and miles later.

Just now I went and re-read “The Martian Shop”.  It’s a gem.  I recommend it to you.  Howard Fast himself (1914-2003) is worth attention.

What if, I thought back then in those single-digit years, there was for fun here on Earth a make-believe exoplanetary restaurant presenting ingestible Earth substances in extraordinary ways?

Already my reach exceeded my grasp.  Nor had I yet made wide enough acquaintance to have met and loved e.g. nattô (fermented soybeans), so strange that when I went to Japan, years and miles later, most of my Japanese friends recoiled from it, leaving it to me and Shirato Seiichi.

I did know hypotheses should be tested.  What would be within my grasp?  Milk was a daily food in that house.  I studied a box of food-coloring bottles.  What if I made up some blue milk?  Not yet having heard sung “Do not ask your mother.  Who do you think let the demons in?” I asked her.  She said (I paraphrase) Have fun, dear.

Breakfast cereals were a daily food in that house.  I put blue milk on mine and sat at table with everyone else.  They recoiled.  I went to the refrigerator and came back with a glass of blue milk.  It stood at my place.  I drank.  Worse.  I offered some to the rest.  Oh, oh, oh.

Had I not been a child of that house — and, I confess, known — I’d have been ostracized.  They’d have found ostraka even if they had to smash pots into sherds to get them.  I tried to explain.  “It’s just blue with food coloring,” I said.  No.

Years and miles later a great enterprise — oops, wrong star — remember dialing Long Distance and hearing “What star are you calling?” in the Van Vogt story? — realized a pinnacle of strangeness would be blue milk.

I try not to think of vindication.  Vindicators were the wretched bombers in Fail-Safe (E. Burdick & H. Wheeler, 1962).  But still.

6 thoughts on “And Another Thing

  1. This talk of Star Wars drinks reminds me of the name of the coffee shop on the Lucasfilm campus: Java The Hut.

  2. A few years ago we went to a local restaurant for Grant McCormick’s birthday. It was the day before the actual birthday, an important point. Grant ordered a dinner with mashed potatoes.

    When it came he had a strange look on his face. The potatoes had been colored green. (Grant’s birthday is March 18, the day after St. Patrick’s Day.)

  3. I really like natto. I must be weird. The Japanese restaurants provided mustard for it. One of my. co-workers had a Japanese American mother-in-law and when my co-worker encountered a NATO cookbook, (employees at NATO headquarters probably contributed recipes to it) she though it said Natto cookbook!!!! I guess you can get this substance in the US.

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