The Emotional Texture Of Selected Fast Food Restaurants
I reserve Taco Bell for only when I’m no longer really in me. The slick bruisy cheese blomped against ground beef more mealy than most beef should be when tasted in daylight sort of hurts, like getting punched in the face by a slow kid with velvet gloves on. In the dark there is no higher solace. I love the cement curb that surrounds the Taco Bell building and holds it lifted off the ground. I love the massive plate glass windows saving the thick tan stucco Taco Bell air in for itself, plastered with oversized ads for new stinky items stuck to the inside like little flattened monoliths to the pretend future. The drive thru sign is an eye with text inside it. The names of all the items contains all the books I’ve ever read, returned here as softer objects variously assembled from beans, beef, cheese, and bread. You always have to repeat your order at the Taco Bell drive-thru because they want to know you mean it, though almost without fail what you end up with will be something other than you asked, as who could know their own fate in the green-brown fold here.
I daily mourn the loss of when our Wendy’s offered a buffet, the plastic vats of buns and taco toppings and beef stations armed with tan plastic scoops, the vats of salad stuff with which to mask your true determination. In that absence, in Wendy’s now, time is not real. You have lived here your whole life, you have sucked the flimsy spoon full of this Frosty before, stuffed this nugget in your face. The seats already know where you will sit, how much you weigh and will weigh, what you have done that you repress. I don’t think I’ve ever looked directly at a menu board here: I’ve always already known. The codename of what I will devour exits of my mouth without me thinking; it is already in me. Under any Wendy’s sits a mass grave full of people who never knew what a Wendy’s was.
Somewhere between ardor and deletion Chic-fil-A blockades itself against America with the beauty of a stuffed horse. The Christians employed here, frequently young virgins or old women who seem filled with oceanic cream, are mirages. They look straight through you and they want to be you so they can change you. They have no idea what you will order, every time, though of all the restaurants I can remember, Chic-fil-A only seems to have one item, which shifts like a mirage among your memory and vision according to your beliefs. The silence that occurs all through the sternum before the mouth must ask for not one, but two or three sealed packs of the sauces, created for you under moonlight in a wide field, is the place I would like to live in and raise a child. We would visit the fry station and breathe its air in. I’d lift my kid up and help her take a waffle fry up to their eye, to look in wonder how the knitted mask of the warm potato waffle blocks out the wide parts of the world.
Everything seems clean, but it is not clean. The employees mask their hands anew all through the hour in thin fresh plastic shaped like someone’s larger, fatter hands. I love the stickers on the sneeze glass. I love that I am not allowed to breathe on what I will soon be, the mayonnaise I never ask for. I love the constant feeling I’ve just removed a winter coat. But where is Jared? The room is full of Jared. I keep hoping he’ll come stumbling from the back, drunk on meat and triangle cheeses, raising up his arms. I hope being buried feels like how they pack the combo sandwich, chips, and napkins into the plastic sock. I want to be Subway for Halloween on every day but Halloween. I love the plastic of the everflowing self-serve drink cup and the lid. Yes, I want cookies. If you stay too long inside a Subway you will adhere to the ground.
In every Checker’s there is a small square room behind the freezers with no windows and no doors. Inside the room a small black sphere levitates six inches off the ground. Observed from outside, the sphere might seem to spin, though it is we here that are spinning.
Sometimes while waiting in the line here I remember places I’ve never been. I remember standing in a war field behind field glasses sweating. I can’t stop looking behind me for someone there. I don’t care what the Chicken McNuggets are made of, and anyway, I don’t exist. I am here only to pay my service for everything I haven’t done. This is the true nature of combat. This playground where I was stabbed. Each night above your bed while you are sleeping you are visited by a clown, a thief, a purple blob, a policeman, a mayor, two children, and a small bird.
I want to drive a truck. I want to become a truck and drive through a flat curtain made of beef. I want the beef to stick to me and become my skin and all warm and slick and pearline in small spots thin enough to look through. When I look through the spots I want to see myself. Any time you think you aren’t at Hardee’s you are at Hardee’s. You have rings on all your fingers, and a veil. If you think you’ve never been to Hardee’s you are the CEO of Hardee’s, which means you’re dead.
I want to be larger than I am now. I will never pass my waste again. I will fill my holes until there is no longer any space.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.