Friends, Romans, countrymen

Orange 01

As a child, I enjoyed shopping with my mother at NorthPark Center in Dallas. Now, NorthPark’s so high-end that it wears diamonds on the soles of its shoes, and most of its stores were above my family’s tax bracket. So, NorthPark shopping was reserved for special times—Christmas, an occasional lunch at the indoor courtyard La Madeleine restaurant, Mother’s Day, art exhibits. Yes, NorthPark has art exhibits frequently, and good ones, featuring sculptures by Giacometti, Claes Oldenburg, and David Smith, all shown regularly in the main walking areas, open to anyone to see. An Andy Warhol painting looms over the NorthPark fountain, where a pivotal scene in Robert Altman’s Dr. T and the Women, set in Dallas, took place, right next to Dillard’s and La Madeleine.

So, my first exposure to modernist art was at the mall.

In December, NorthPark’s huge and meandering fountains were given over to penguins on loan from the Dallas World Aquarium. There were Christmas carolers, a stage show (eight times a year) featuring a Scrooge puppet that told dirty jokes, and a model train exhibit next to the F.A.O. Schwarz. The flagship stores—Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Dillard’s, and (eventually) Nordstrom—sometimes featured live pianists during holidays. It wasn’t uncommon to stroll past a woman wearing clothes that were worth more than our house was worth.

An 1980s bastion of cheap joy, however, nestled in NorthPark’s midst. I’m talking here about the mighty Orange Julius shack. Bright orange and white stripes adorned the workers’ uniforms, and blazed out into the subtle beiges and browns of the NorthPark façades. Even at age ten, in 1986, I knew that the shack’s font screamed 1972. NorthPark was chic and modern; Orange Julius was tacky and retro—before retro was cool.

I loved Orange Julius, even more than I loved the chocolate-chip cookies from Mrs. Field’s, just a short walk around the next corner. I lived for Orange Julius.

So, my heart deflated when, some time during high school, I strolled through NorthPark towards the Orange Julius shack. It’s an old story—it was no longer there. I can’t even remember what replaced it. I began to go to NorthPark less and less, until finally I moved out of Dallas, and now it’s rare if I stroll through it once a year. NorthPark’s still extremely upscale, though the penguins are gone, the Sam Goody is gone, and anything remotely cheap is gone except for the food court—which it did not have during the 1980s and 1990s, making it a rare and welcome exception to the fast-foodization of malls.

Orange Julius apparently still exists, as a subsidiary of Dairy Queen. So I could seek one out. I am, however, not a nostalgic man, and Mom made better Orange Juliuses than the shop did, anyway. Recently, I wanted to give La Bella a taste of the Old Country or, at least, my old stomping grounds. So, here’s my recipe, adapted from Mom’s ingredients along with the tinge of childhood memories. Enjoy.

————————————

ORANGE JULIUS

Ingredients: orange juice, milk, cream (half & half will do in a pinch), 8-10 sliced strawberries, honey, 6 ice cubes.

Directions: Find a full-size blender. Pour enough orange juice in the blender so that it’s half-full. Add enough milk so that the blender is two-thirds full. Add a generous splash of cream. Plunk it the ice cubes. Drizzle in a ¼-cup of honey or so. Throw in the strawberries. Blend until smooth and the liquid is pink. Serve in a chilled glass, with a lemon wedge on the rim.

(Purists use two egg whites rather than cream. Fools, all.)

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in RogerEbert.com, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/Walter_Biggins).
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4 Responses to Friends, Romans, countrymen

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I was nothing but relieved to discover that the cheesy nature store I worked in when I was 16 has closed and vanished from Northpark. And is it my imagination, but did Northpark take it up a few notches in the last five years? Last I recall, the place was struggling. Now there’s a Barney’s.

  2. Ernesto says:

    Portman-tastic train of thought on your headline.

  3. I found that blogs are really a good way to share information and experience with other readers, it helps others to learn and increase information by other experiences.

  4. It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had fun writing this article. Excellent entry! I’m been looking for topics as interesting as this. Looking forward to your next post.

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