Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writing, Commercialism, and the Genius of Dirty Chips

When the toilet paper was at the end of the roll, I had no choice but to go to the store for two or three items I couldn’t do without.  If you’ve been in my kitchen, you know I’m not the type to fill it with sugary, salty, or otherwise unhealthy foods.  Even on hour-long trips to the store, I don’t impulse shop and I’m almost never swayed by commercialism.  Today, I admit, was an exception.  A bag, strategically placed at the end of the bread aisle, read “Dirty Potato Chips.”  My first thought was, “Ew…who wants to eat dirty chips?”  It conjured up memories of eating at a restaurant called Chuck-a-Rama where, no matter how good the food was, I couldn’t help but think of that scene in Stand By Me (the one with the castor oil) and it made me gag.  The second time I passed them, I giggled at the thought of a couple of potato farmers sitting around in their boxers scratching their heads and justifying the name “Dirty” because, after all, potatoes come from the ground, right?  Believe it or not, standing in the grocery line, I couldn’t get the dirty, rotten, salt magnets out of my head.  The mere brand name gave me enough reason to feel that I had to try them.  In their defense, they were really quite tasty and I ate more than I should have.  If you are what you eat, I guess that makes me a couch potato. My point being (since it all comes back to writing), that it is sometimes the simplest and most ridiculous title that will compel a reader to pick up a book.  I’m hoping that rings true for “Never Poke a Porcupine,” my next attempt at a children’s picture book.  On that note, I’d better get back to writing it and to the bag of Jalapeno Heat Dirty Potato Chips screaming my name.

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