Do any of you subscribe to The New Yorker? I did once, two years ago, because it was like $12 for six months. I also did it because for one of my fiction writing classes in college we read 20 Under 40: stories from The New Yorker. College is fun because sometimes you actually thoroughly enjoy the required reading. I mean it’s like three stories per work, but they’re actually good.
This week I decided to steal from it and go with the story “Warm Fuzzies” by Chris Adrian.
The story focuses on the Carters, a foster family based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who forces everyone to be part of the Carter Family Band. Molly, a blood member of the Carter clan, is a young girl, figuring out her place in the family dynamic as well as her place with a new foster kid, Peabo, who her parents demand to go by the name of Paul.
“Warm Fuzzies” gets into a description of the family, parents who ran a dental office who suddenly turned to music and Jesus, and adding foster children to the family. It gave me a very “cult-tastic” vibe. That could be because I listen to the Cult podcast all week at work and I’m projecting, but it seems fitting. Their family band revolves around wholesome, religious songs, and it’s all the parents are focused on. When not in band rehearsals or making music videos for local cable, the children are forced to reflect on their blessings and love for their family.
Molly, who seems to be on the brink of a rebellious stage of her life, is struggling with her feelings for Peabo, who is fine in his own skin and has no problem sticking up for himself. As soon as he moves into the house there’s a strange connection between them. They sneak into each other’s bedrooms at night, not doing anything inappropriate, but keeping a distance between them and just watching.
Molly’s internal voice, told through the 3rd person omniscient narrator, is sarcastic and witty. She’s smart and observant of her parents and siblings. We wouldn’t get that from her dialogue. But when she’s around Peabo, her head gets fuzzy and she’s unsure of what to do with herself and what to say. She tries to mimic him in his actions towards her.
Peabo seems to stay complicit and acts like a typical kid around the rest of the family, not giving attention to Molly around them. He does as he’s told and doesn’t cause trouble, but in her actions a reader can find an obvious resentment towards the religion forced upon him by the Carters. Molly also starts to mimic that.
Then everything changes. Peabo leaves and Molly is left in the family band without her tambourine partner, full of resentment and ready to lash out. And she does so by ruining their first live performance of their song “Warm Fuzzies.”
I couldn’t quite decide on a drink pairing for the story as our main characters are far below the drinking age. But after googling and searching, I found Tambourine Mountain Distillery from Australia. No, the story has nothing to do with Australia, but the tambourine is basically Molly’s only friend.
This distillery looks very, very old-timey and cute from it’s website, and they specialize in Schnapps, Liqueurs, fruit brandy, gin, and vodka. So, since it’s summer and we are going through a heat wave across the U.S., a refreshing Tambourine Iced Tea sounds lovely.
TMD’s Lemon Myrtle Leaf Vodka inspired me to make this drink. While I don’t have access to Australian alcohol, I had to suffice with an artisan lemon vodka I found covered in dust on the shelf of my local liquor store.
– Lemon artisan vodka (or whatever vodka you like)
– Home brewed sweet tea (or store bought because it’s just easy)
This drink is pretty straightforward. Find any sort of glass as big or small as you’d like and fill with ice. Pour in 1 oz of your chosen vodka and then fill the rest with your choice of tea. Stir. Then drink while you sit in front of a fan reading “Warm Fuzzies.”