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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Chocolate, Cigarettes, and Coffee

Yesterday, a propos of nothing, the DD riding in the car next to me said, “Did you ever notice how the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘cigarette’ go with just about anything and it sounds good? Oh, and coffee.” She wasn’t advocating smoking or anything of that sort, but was noting how certain words sound good with anything. After all, she’s the daughter of a couple of verbslingers and has a pretty good aim with a pen as well. Then she went further and used an example, “Like Chocolate and Heroine,” she said. “It sounds like it would be reasonable. Or pie and a cigarette. Of course.” We talked a bit about whether the word had to come first or last, but decided that usually if the word was ‘chocolate’ it came first, but ‘cigarette’ or ‘coffee’ came second.

I got to thinking about this exchange and somehow got off on the different meanings if you vary the words slightly. Here’s what I came up with:

“Girl and cigarette” must be a painting by some impressionist artist.

“Girls and cigarettes” is more likely a social treatise on peer pressure and children’s health issues.

Now modify the first word and you get a whole different meaning.

“Good girls and cigarettes” is either a parenting manual, or one of those “helpful” guides for teens closely resembling “The Facts of Life and Love for Teens.”

“Bad girls and cigarettes” is the type of movie you’d find on late night cable when insomnia has you parked in front of the tube looking for something to put you to sleep.

“Fast girls and cigarettes” is what Mom warned you to stay away from when you left home for college, the air force, or summer camp.

“Bad girls and chocolate” is a dieting guide.

“Good girls and chocolate” is… also a dieting guide.

When I was a kid, we used to play a game where we’d go through the church hymnal and read all the titles of hymns followed by the words “between the sheets.” I’ll let you fill in some of your own trials there. I’m thinking now that we missed whole genre of games by simply having to add the words “and coffee,” “and chocolate,” or “and a cigarette.” Take a random book with chapter titles (other than “1”) and add one of our three phrases to each chapter. It could be fun!



Finding a fiction work with chapter titles isn't that easy these days. I pulled a Dashiell Hammett mystery off my shelf called "Red Harvest."
1. A woman in green and a man in gray and a cigarette
2. The Czar of Poisonville and chocolate
3. Dinah Brand and coffee
4. Hurricane Street and cigarettes
9. A black knife and coffee
Oh well. I was amused.