I am 50-something and, recently, it was brought to my attention that drinking Kool-Aid is ghetto. How in the world did I miss this endorsement?
As kids we were treated to Fizzies soft drink tablets. These magical tablets more often ended on our tongues rather than in a tall glass of water. My younger sisters and I would run through the house snarling at one another with various colors of foam oozing from our mouths as we pretended to be rabid animals. No wonder there were those times when our mother would throw up her hands and, for a brief moment, surrender to our “un-lady-like” behavior. Days would then go by without our afternoon Fizzies frenzy. Enough of this prohibition; we would drag a chair from the dining table to the kitchen counter. As one of us would climb up to search the cabinets, the other two would serve as lookouts and wait for the victory cry, “Found ‘em!”.
One Saturday morning, during our ritual cartoon marathon, we were introduced to a giant talking pitcher as it crashed through the garden wall, “Oh, yeah”. The kids in the commercial were happy and having lots of fun and the mom seemed very pleased as she poured glasses of this icy concoction. How could we get our hands on this new drink? This drink called Kool-Aid was sure to change our lives.
The older we became the less we were invited to participate in the family grocery shopping. I guess our mother began to tire of her basket being filled with boxes of the latest sugar coated cereals and forbidden snacks. Not to mention the scene at the checkout with three whining kids as she set aside the items she had not placed in her basket. It did, however, take her several trips to realize it was her “seen-not-heard” daughters placing those unwanted items because she would blame other shoppers for mistaking her basket for theirs. We knew tagging along with her to the market was not an option.
We set about our plan to obtain this life-changing refreshment. We tried peer pressure, “Vicki’s mother buys Kool-Aid and so does Linda and Debbie’s mom”. She ignored us. We also tried, “They say Kool-Aid is good for you”. That didn’t work either. Still faced with the quest of obtaining our drink mix, we remembered Mother jotting down a list before leaving for the market. This list would rest on top of a stack of McCall’s and Woman’s Day magazines for several days as she poured through the pages discovering new recipes. We would simply add Kool-Aid to her list. And, with very little thought, we’d use forgery.
I tore three pages from my Big Chief tablet and, with her list in front of us, we gave our creative best to copy her cursive writing. Oddly, it was the youngest (only 4 years old) that seemed to have the artistic ability to forge Mother’s handwriting. Well, sort of, okay…not really, but she was the “baby” and the least likely to get in trouble if our scheme was discovered. She took Mother’s pen and carefully scrawled our request to the bottom of the list. Then, giggling all the way, we ran to my bedroom, closed the door behind us and hid under the bed. We were excited! We were scared!
The next day we noticed the list was gone. Had she been to the market? Was the Kool-Aid up in the cabinets? No. Our daddy had taken the list. We waited outside for Daddy’s return and offered to wag the bags from the car to the kitchen. After the first trip I remained behind to do some snooping. I rustled through the bags until my eyes finally focused on the brightly colored envelopes. I swear, the angels began to sing as I pulled the Holy Grail from the bag; our quest for the coveted drink mix was over.
Lo and behold our lives began to change. We were no longer forgers; we were now entrepreneurs. We set up a folding card table and taped a sign to it that announced our Kool-Aid stand was open for business. We sat diligently, waved at all the passers-by until they had to stop for a refreshing glass - it was delicious. We had regular customers and we were rolling in the dough. On really hot days we offered popsicles made from Kool-Aid we had frozen in our molds. We blended flavors together for new taste sensations. We were happy and having lots of fun.
Yes, there have been times in my life where I put aside my Kool-Aid for the sophistication of more adult-like drinks, but I always came back. I raised my children on Kool-Aid. Even as I write this piece, I am enjoying a Kool-Aid cocktail made by blending mango and cherry flavors. Now, I ask you, when did drinking Kool-Aid become ghetto?