I don’t go to Taco Bell for the food. I go for the bat!@#$ crazy ambiance.
Presumably, there is such a thing as a normal dining experience at The Bell, but I’ve yet to be blessed with it. The universe has decreed that I may not order and consume a chalupa without being subjected to a ninety-year-old woman hitting me up for change… to call her son in Florida…right there in the restaurant…or getting stuck behind some dude ordering twenty dollars worth of product…with the intention of eating it all himself…assuming that is even possible. (For the record, that’s like twelve menu items – most of which involve beans. He came with friends, but I doubt he left with them.)
Today, my dining experience was enriched by a visit from The Guy Who Stands Too Close To You. We all remember him from our last trip to the local cinema. Placed in a gymnasium containing nothing but himself and one other person, he will seek out that other person and position himself within six inches of them. Saying nothing. Doing nothing. Just standing there. Yes, you can look at him oddly. You can even edge an inch or two further away, but nothing short of a right hook is going to convince him that the “maximum occupancy” sign is not a challenge of some sort.
I’d accuse him of trying to cut in front of me in line, but the truth of the matter is that this is Taco Bell – an establishment against which a claim was only recently lodged alleging their taco filling was not so much made of meat as inspired by it. My point is that I am only here because of a desperate search for enough protein to make it through the afternoon, and my standards have fallen to a degree I care little about the source. With that said, I think I have another five minutes in me. If you need to go first, be my guest. Just save a burrito or two for me.
But he won’t, of course. Go first, I mean. Instead he and I, walking in lock-step, will approach the counter together. This will lead to an awkward moment after I finish ordering and the lump at the register starts directing furtive glances towards the moon trapped in my orbit. No doubt he’s wondering if my ostensible domestic partner wants anything. For my part, I wonder if I should get my wallet myself or ask the physical manifestation of my shadow to grab it – where he’s standing, he can probably reach it more easily than I can.
Of course, no trip to Taco Bell would be complete without either a screwed up order or an attempted poisoning. Today, they have opted for the latter. In true Arsenic and Old Lace style, and I must admit to being a sucker for the classics, they try to do so via my drink cup – one of those gargantuan plastic vessels you get with a value meal, which I always resolve to fill with iced tea before getting to the dispenser and instead filling it with two gallons of Mountain Dew Code Red.
Today, I made it to the dispenser before casually glancing towards the interior of my cup and realizing my value meal contained a little something extra. Specifically, it contained:
- Two (2) hairs, red. Short. Suspect eyebrow.
- One (1) fly, dead.
- Four (4) smudges, dirt.
Now, like everyone, I have a couple beliefs I stubbornly cling to despite all evidence to the contrary. One of those is that Mountain Dew Code Red will sterilize absolutely anything. It also gives hair more volume and improves your…ahem…performance. Regardless, I was prepared to overlook the insect, knock his husk out of the cup, and continue on when I realized the hair bothered me. Because the only logical way for it to have arrived in there was for someone to have used the cup previously. While plucking their eyebrows. And dredging a lake, if the dirt is any indication, which I suppose would make sense – the cups are certainly large enough.
So I returned to the counter to stand next to my husband (I presume we’re common law after our wait in line) who was in the midst of his own order. When I proposed a trade with the Keeper of Such Things behind the register, he readily agreed, but what he said chilled me to the bone:
“Huh. Yeah. That happens sometimes.”
To which I replied:
But to which I should have replied:
“You periodically distribute soda glasses containing flies, dirt, and eyebrow hair? And this has never struck you as cause for concern or, at the very least, idle inquiry? It’s a Taco Bell trifecta – a cup containing three disparate items alike in that I don’t want to drink any of them, and that I marvel at how any of them came to be found at the same time in the same place in an ostensibly new and never-used cup. Are you guys buying these things off Amazon and from third party sellers who list the condition as “like new”? Was there an eyebrow plucking convention in town? Were you making meat castles in the back room during a particularly slow day? There are implications here, man – implications I’m not sure you’re fully appreciating!”
At which point I should have slammed down the cup, grabbed the Guy Who Stands Too Close to You’s hand, and screamed, “Me and my husband are leaving!” before storming out.
What? He sort of grows on you after awhile.