Sweet and Sour


We’ve heard of writing prompts before, but the folks over at Vice are doing something truly different: in a new Flickr-inspired series, Stranger Than Flickton, they give authors five pictures, each of them food-related, and let them have at it. The resulting stories are weird and beautiful, ecstatic and contemplative.

Brian McMullen’s subjects—toothpaste and cake—are as topical as the rest, but his piece also veers towards the cautionary, too: Crest has been putting polyethylene in their toothpaste for years. Incidentally, it’s as big an issue for the work’s protagonists as it is for everyone else:

I said to Chick, “I can feel the little plastic bits on my tongue, and I think I can taste them too. Can you taste them?”

“Of course not,” he said. “Nobody can. All I can taste is cool mint, and your disgusting foot vinegar. Is my foot vinegar worse than yours? I think so!”

Chick will drive across town to my house for dinner, burp, and blow the burp gas into my oldest son’s glass of milk through a long straw he keeps in his blazer. The milk will bubble up into a gossamer dome, and my son Bedros—he’s six—will laugh his beautiful laugh as the pretty dome disintegrates. The levity and love Chick brings to our dinner table every Sunday are the real deal. They’re everything that matters, and I’m lucky to have a wife who understands this. Chick has never spilled a drop of my son’s milk, but if he did spill the milk, do you know what we’d do? We’d live.

Catch the rest of the piece over at Vice (and some more info on Crest, if you’re interested, down at Dental Buzz).

Bryan Washington has written for Puerto Del Sol, Ninth Letter, and Midnight Breakfast, among others; he's also the recipient of a Houstonia Fellowship. He lives around New Orleans. More from this author →