Long ago – they tell me it was 1973 – the 7-11 convenience store chain released a series of Slurpee cups with images of DC Comics super heroes printed on them: http://www.glassnews.com/images/dcchecklist.gif. These were cheap, plastic cups in which the neon-colored concoction of syrup and crushed ice was dispensed. Usually, the cups featured a never-ending parade of sports stars, which held no interest to an avid indoorsman like me, who spent most of his free time coloring or playing with bugs. Having developed a growing interest in the cartoon likes of Superman and his cape-wearing ilk, I was very excited that this form of merchandising was taking a break from the Aarons and Clementes to serve up a few men in tights. Draw your own Freudian conclusions.
The problem was that the cups were packed randomly. You’d order a Slurpee and the tired 7-11 clerk would pull the next available cup from the dispenser without either of you knowing which character you’d get. You’d have your fingers crossed for a Batman or a Green Lantern, only to be served up a Slurpee in a Wonder Girl cup. I would’ve settled for an Hourman, Sgt. Rock or even Chameleon Boy (whoever he was), but which cup did I get over and over? Perry White.
That’s right, no two-fisted action man for me. I got Perry White, Clark Kent’s boss at the Daily Planet. While the other characters were out combating giant monsters with their laser vision and shape-shifting and such, Perry was sitting at his desk, editing newspaper copy. And I got cups sporting this dynamic pencil pusher time and time again in the Slurpee cup lotto, like some sick, cosmic joke. Once, my father was sent to the 7-11 to fetch Slurpees for me and the neighbor kids and returned with three Perry Whites! It was obvious that the 7-11, DC Comics, God and my father all hated me.
But today, I cherish the Perry White cup as a valuable life lesson. In this world, there are no super heroes, no benevolent ultramen ready to swoop down from the sky to right injustices like these. There is only a never-ending stream of Perry Whites, business-savvy number crunchers, grinding out daily product and obsessing over the bottom line. Not unlike the stodgy, old 7-11 executives who toyed with my boyhood dreams with their cheap, plastic shell game and snickered at my misfortune.
So yes, I blame Slurpee cups for all my cynicism about the modern world. But it could’ve been worse. Imagine my opinion of the Powers That Be had I gotten a few Commissioner Gordons.