Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve had a major sweet tooth these last several days, but when met with a prompt of “floating” the only thing that popped into my head was a root beer float. I landed on an A&W Root Beer float as I passed one of their restaurants the other day, and got a little nostalgic if not a bit weepy-eyed. It’s been too long since I’ve been to one. Being served a root beer in a big, thick, frosty glass mug that freezes your hands off while a dollup of ice cream floats happily on top is the most beautiful thing in the world! One local root beer drive-in here that still manages to exist today in its original form is called Mugs Up, which is a wonderful tribute to the whole point of the root beer experience. They also serve something called a zip burger which is a loose meet sandwich glued together by mustard and magic. I remember going with my mother there when she took trips to go to a craft store that was nearby. Since my metabolism and I broke up a few years ago, I have to watch the calories a bit more. But man, I’d love to have one of these right now!
The A&W that I passed on the highway was not a single operation anymore, but now one of those combo fast food restaurants. The kind they create to taunt you with memories of a time gone by. The other half was a Long John Silver’s fish joint which was equally nostalgic for me as I used to love that place as well. I’m sure combining them into one location is out of convenience, but the idea of having to choose between the two if I mustered the courage to actually visit is daunting. I imagine I would have to start with the fish, which was, if you’re not familiar, breaded and fried within an inch of its life on a bed of what we called “crunchies.” Then I would have a root beer float for desert and all would be right with the world. Except the stomach ache I’d likely have to tolerate after, but that all comes after, so the initial experience would be pure bliss. I have a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks and I think a visit will be in order to celebrate. Anything goes on a birthday as you all must know.
Even if I don’t frequent these places anymore, it’s nice to know that they’re still around. Sure, the food isn’t even close to what one would call healthy, but it was so delicious and created memories that lasted far longer than the best kale salad. Those flavors were unique and wonderful and some of the happiest times I remember as a kid. These were places I’d get to go whenever I was “good” or got that top grade on a test or did all of my chores. A treat that I loved, but also had to earn. Looking back, I realize we couldn’t afford the other places, so these were really the only option, but it still felt like I’d won some sort of prize. So when I head back there soon, I’m not sure if I’ve done anything to particularly deserve it. I’m not completely certain that I’ve earned my little prize. After all, all I’ve done to deserve it is simply hold on to a memory for decades, of that perfect root beer float.
About the Doodlewash
Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Indian Yellow, Red Orange, Sennelier Red, Dioxazine Purple, Phthalocyanine Blue, Burnt Sienna and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!