Okay. So a couple weeks ago I promised a lovely anon that I would write about why Chowder is my favorite Check, Please! character. I have since discovered that all of the reasons Chris Chow is my favorite omgcp character really don’t fit into one post (I mean, I could make them fit, but it would be a very long post lacking any sort of organizing principle, and I just don’t need to go there). So this post is the story of how Christopher Franklin Chow *became* my favorite character. There’s more to why he’s important to me than this, but this is how it started.
It happened very quickly. In the space of one panel, in fact (the one above, in case you hadn’t guessed–it’s from Year One, Comic 17-“Tadpoles”).
About a year ago, I was reading my way through the main comic of OMGCP. It was probably nine or ten pm, and I was thinking about calling it a night. And then I saw this panel, and thought to myself “wow, that San Jose Sharks hoodie is *exactly* the right color. What sport do the Sharks play, anyway? Is it hockey? It might be hockey. hmm. Anyway.” This sequence of thoughts makes slightly more sense if you know that I grew up about 100 miles from San Jose.
After the enthusiastic new character in the Sharks hoodie, I registered a redhead looking either skeptical or uncomfortable (or both), and Lardo looking efficient.
I started to read, confirming that Lardo is in full-on manager mode, Sharks!Dude is indeed enthusiastic, and Redhead is definitely way outside his comfort zone. And then Sharks!Dude, clearly a prospective goalie, says “‘swawesome!” and earns himself a special place in my heart forevermore.
Why, you ask, should the fact that this enthusiastic probably-seventeen-year-old went to the trouble of learning campus slang before he’d even committed to attending Samwell make him special to me? Well, because the only reason for a person to do such a thing is that they have previously embarrassed themselves by either not using or mis-using local slang. And because the Sharks hoodie tells me that Sharks!Dude currently hails from the part of the country I went to high school in, which means that I know *exactly* what local slang he ran afoul of (it’s “hella.” I, someone who was not born in NorCal but basically grew up there, have a very complicated relationship with that word. To me, it is clear that Chowder’s relationship with it is different but equally complicated).
Let me expand for a moment. I get the sense that a lot of people just read Chowder as just straight-up over-the-top enthusiastic. I…don’t. Right from his first appearance, I see him trying to project enthusiasm (because that’s how you get Californians to engage with you–you display a lot of enthusiasm for *their thing,* whatever their thing happens to be. Not enthusiasm for them personally–that’s too much and comes across as sucking up–but there’s no such thing as too much enthusiasm for *their thing*), but I see it as coming from a place of deep anxiety. He really wants the SMH to like him, and at least in this panel he is deeply afraid of being rejected for being too different–so he overcompensates and goes way out of his way (if you think he did not read every Ask A Wellie that was posted during Bitty’s first year, you are wrong) to learn campus slang far too early (one of the major differences between campus slang and regional slang is that no one expects you to understand campus slang on your first day–it was new to everybody at some point. Regional slang is another story).
Basically, I see Chowder as someone who shares my experience of having been The New Kid somewhere in NorCal, and who is trying to apply the lessons he learned the hard way from that experience to getting off on the right foot at Samwell (he should not be doing this, because being The New Kid is a vastly different experience from being one of several hundred new freshmen, but try convincing any ex-New Kid of that while they’re preparing for college, and see how that goes). That makes him very important to me.
The panel that follows, in which Lardo calls out the fact that Chowder should not have known how to use ‘swawesome yet, Chowder gets anxious, and *nobody gives him any shit for any of it* is, for me, the one that makes the whole comic special.
When I finished reading “Tadpoles” that night a year or so ago, I was no longer thinking about going to bed. I had to keep reading, to make sure that Sharks!Dude did in fact become a major character in Year 2. Which of course he does.
You didn’t get to see Jongin often in the first place but now that Exo were scheduled to have a comeback, you’ve hardly even gotten a chance to talk to him lately. Dating an idol isn’t easy but because it’s Jongin and because you love him, you deal with the difficulties. He never tells you specifics about their comebacks but through the wonders of the internet, you heard that their new song is titled “Call Me Daddy.” You figure the song will go through some major overhaul before it’s actually published and that won’t be the end title, but it’s still an entertaining thought. Fans on the internet are going crazy and you’re just sitting back and watching it all happen, laughing at the posts that they make.
It’s late one night when you get a call, Jongin’s ringtone shaking you from that haze that grips you right before you fall asleep. You roll over in bed and grab your phone from the nightstand, swiping to answer the call without even opening your eyes.
“Hey, babe. Did I wake you?”
You smile at the sound of Jongin’s voice, deep yet soft.
“No, I was just reading in bed when you called.”
Jongin knows that you’re lying, but he doesn’t bother to call you out on it.
“So,” you start. “I heard some rumors about your group’s comeback.”
‘Twas the night before the Grand Prix, and not a
soul was stirring…
Actually, that would be incorrect, since it’s pretty
busy here in the paddock. Welcome back! It’s me, your nameless host for the
evening, taking you ‘round the paddock and filling you in with what’s
Ferrari garage. Spirits are high at the Scuderia! Rumors is that the Red team
invested in loads of new hires, to lug around massive amounts of sandbags. It
is also said, that Maurizio Arrivabene has been in such a good mood, that he
started cracking jokes left, right and centre. Terrifying really, since every
time he laughs, a cloud a smoke comes out of his mouth. Side effect from his
Malboro days? Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel has just come back from a harsh
winter break. Rumor is, that since Ferrari had been performing so poorly in the
past season, the German had been looking in alternative careers. One of them
being a stunt double in movies. During the winter break he was the stunt double
for Leonardo Di Caprio in the sequel of “The Revenant”. He’s still sporting the
beard! “IF HE CAN WIN AN OSCAR, I CAN WIN A GP”. Sure, Seb. As usual, Kimi is
right: Ah, the
Mercedes garage. Lewis Hamilton has barricaded himself in the German team’s
motorhome, playing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on repeat, while wailing “NICOOOOOO!!!”.
I wonder what that’s about. In any case the garage is… Empty? Where is
everyone?? Wait, is that Valtteri Bottas? Why is he sitting alone, in the
middle of the garage giggling? Why are those two mechanics in the corner
front: The Red
Bull garage! It looks like Helmut Marko has shipped Max Verstappen’s water tank
from home. Got to keep good ‘ol shark boy comfortable. Daniel Ricciardo is
missing. Rumor is that he challenged Mark Webber to a duel, yelling “THIS
COUNTRY NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR TWO AUSTRALIAN DRIVERS”. Dramatic.
th€€ ₩i££iam$ garag€. Nothing to $€€ h€r€.
the Renault garage. Well… Kind of. The organizers got confused by the new
teamwear and assigned them a dock rather than a garage, because they thought it
was a team of fishermen.
the paddock area: That’s
the Sauber hospitality, which—*ITALIAN SCREECHING*
Yeah. That was Antonio Giovinazzi.
can see, wherever the light touches, it’s all Formula 1!
…what’s that shadowy place over
That’s the McLaren garage. Don’t go there.
The main four's first time going to the beach after reaching the surface?
extensive studying (watching teen beach movies) has proven very fruitful for knowing exactly what to do in this situation!!! he is wearing a Hawaiian-print shirt and copious amounts of sunblock above his nasal cavity. he is wary of sharks, but comforted by the fact that they’re only attracted to blood and he is a skeleton with nothing to offer them
after confirming that, no, papyrus isn’t going to drown (it was a little touch-and-go because, even though they don’t technically need to breathe, papyrus’ swimming technique was a lot less doggy-paddle and more ‘fling self into the ocean’), he sets out his beach towel and gets comfortable. he’s reading a book about the ocean and its wonders- after finding out that it’s essentially a bottomless void that we know very little about, he keeps a closer eye on his friends in the water
she’s going to lay in the sun watching anime on her table until the sun sets. she loves sunbathing enough to put aside her insecurities and worries- she’s a lizard lady, let her enjoy her Sun Time. other than that, she spends her time sputtering every time someone shakes excess water off of themselves and onto her, and watching undyne in the water
she is having the TIME of her LIFE!! she’s ducking under the water for insane amounts of time (sometimes coming back up with a fish in her hands to show to alphys or frisk), power-swimming for long distances between piers (making sure not to get too close so she doesn’t get hooked by any of the fishers, though). she’s constantly challenging papyrus to swimming competitions
asgore finds a jellyfish by the coast and picks it up with two hands to show “this strange aquatic flower by the sea” to frisk, who screams at the top of their lungs and runs away so they don’t get stung
i am HERE TO TALK ABOUT AUTISTIC HOCKEY PLAYERS, FRIEND
i love you. i just, im a little bit wisdom tooth loopy still, but i love you. (please excuse any misspellings. everything is kinda swimmy)
-chowder who loves proprioceptive input, loves how heavy his hoodies and gear is. chowder, who loves that when he asks for it, he can get sandwich hugs between his giant hockey player friends.
-also chowder and his comfort object, that fantastic shark plush that’s the size of a child. chowder, who had to be trained to have other smaller things to carry around because it “wasn’t cute” to carry a stuffy around anymore after he turned six.
-autistic lardo, who super duper loves art, but cannot stand the smell of certain paints or the feel of some glues. lardo, who has to modify almost all of her art because she loves to create but not to the detriment of her mental wellbeing.
-also lardo, who gets frustrated and shuts down when she tries to skate, because she knows she cant and why do you keep making me??
-autistic bitty with executive disfunction out the ears, like he can cook food and he can clean, but give him an assignment with a deadline and it will not happen.
-also bitty who loves to bake, but getting butter on his hands is a k i l l e r