What year is it and why am I so greasy?
I did something out of character tonight, and I don’t even feel bad about it. I plead temporary insanity. And peer pressure. And a spirit of adventure.
K has a curiosity for experiences, and has been asking me to help her with a new one for awhile. At first I rejected it out of hand, but tonight it suddenly seemed like a good idea.
I knew where to go. We parked and went inside, under the gaze of the Colonel. Non-threatening in a cartoon, grinning way with his sharp stylistic shadows. Grandfatherly in a trustworthy, traditional way with his bow tie. Respectably dressed, yet down to Earth in his apron, and hip with a rockin’ soul patch.
There was a bit of a line, which was good because I had no idea what to order. I chose the smallest combo on the board. A 2 piece combo meal, please. The #15.
I misheard the cashier automaton’s mumbled statement of the price, so instead of shrewdly paying exact change, I handed her an utterly random and pointless amount, causing her to pause momentarily in confusion, looking at the Curacaoan pennies in her palm, which look entirely too much like Lego coins, before shrugging and basically returning them to me.
With that awkward transaction behind us, K and I loitered a moment, actors bad at improv, not knowing where we were supposed to go next. The cashier shooed us away, so we shuffled the two steps left that were possible, aliens trying to look human.
Soon enough our number was called and a supremely efficient zombie with glazed eyes passed me a surprisingly small paper bag. Did I order enough food? I found myself unexpectedly eager to find out.
Back home K took a seat in the audience to see what KFC was like. As usual in the evening after we close the door to keep out the mosquitoes, the temperature was about 250 degrees, so I stripped down to my underwear and began.
The last time I ate KFC it was still called Kentucky Fried Chicken, President Reagan had convinced us that the Soviet Union hated us, and “trickle down economics” seemed like a valid notion. Ha! That’s sillier than the haircuts.
The only time we went to the Colonel’s establishment was after spending the day in a particular city park, and tonight, 20+ years later, I took my first bite and was back in Shoup Park. With the oddly sweet breading on my tongue I could see the concrete tunnel we used to run through at full speed. When the bizarrely smooth “mashed potatoes” slipped around on my palate I felt the grass in the big field where we played Capture the Flag.
The biscuit. Jesus, the biscuit.
The cole slaw finished the combo, though I couldn’t remember it if used to be strips of shredded cabbage, or if it was always this sort of peculiar gritty pulp. Either way, it too was familiar.
Then suddenly it was over.
My greasy fingers held limply up in the air, I looked up to see K watching me, and suddenly I saw through her eyes.
Today was laundry day, and all my nice new boxer-briefs were drying on the rack, so there I was, on the floor in my old threadbare pair that used to be boxer-briefs, but after too many handwashings in too many countries, they are just sad droopy boxers now, eating fast food.
I had finally become the American stereotype her friends back in Belgium expected of me.
One of my nightmares for years, it wasn’t actually that bad, though I can’t say I’ll repeat it any time soon. See you circa 2035, Colonel.