the fast food restaurant and the always open dinerPosted: December 28, 2009
Driving down some anonymous street at whatever time it is when the birds stop their chirping, your car screeches somewhat loudly to a halt at a four-way stop.
Your stomach grumbles enough for you to hear it over the drums and guitar of the music you’re blasting in your car. It’s hunger that can be ignored, and probably should be ignored, as you have places to go, and more importantly, better things to do, but you decide to acquiesce it. You ask your passenger, who has been in your car for this whole trip, if they could go for some food. They answer yes, and point out the choices. Fifty yards past the intersection ahead of you lies the friendly glow of a recognizable Fast Food Restaurant. The path to it is clear-cut, simple. To your right, the view of it slightly obscured by trees, is an Always Open Diner. To your left is road, road leading to somewhere you really don’t want to be right now. Behind you are no cars, the closest being that of a naive teenage couple parked some two or so miles away, hoping to get some privacy. There’s plenty of time to deliberate, though the protests of your stomach are growing louder, the environmentalist in you is reminding the fact that you’re pumping exhaust fumes in the air when you really shouldn’t be, and your passenger tends to be the impatient type. You weigh the options.
The Fast Food Restaurant would be quick, easy. Go in, get what you want, and get on with other things. The proliferation of this particular restaurant chain shows that millions have been there before, and do indeed enjoy the food. It’s a wonderful business, at least for the ones making money. Even here, at the intersection of Almost Somewhere and Pretty Much Nowhere, there are a few cars parked in front of it. You think about it some more. It’s food, simple, convenient, and it would fill your stomach and satisfy that hunger that’s bugging you now more than it was before. You wouldn’t get much out of it other than a full stomach; your passenger, who at precisely the same moment feels as hungry as you do and doesn’t much care for the source of food, and yourself wouldn’t be able to have much of a conversation there. You’d consider getting sustenance from the drive thru, parking in the same area as the naive teenage lovers just to mess with them, and eating in silence, in your car, letting the stench of deep fat frying fill your car as the both of you listened to whatever was on the radio, or whatever was in your mix CD. It’d be sloppy, careless, unfulfilling, except to your stomach.
But you wouldn’t mind that, no, not at all! There’s nothing particularly wrong with just wanting to just eat, disregarding everything else surrounding it. And that’s not saying you two wouldn’t go inside, sit at a table, and have a nice conversation. It just seems to be the wrong atmosphere for it all. What would you talk about? Someone ten feet away that is beyond morbidly obese? The weather, perhaps? All acceptable wastes of time. It wouldn’t be too bad. A satisfying meal and some dumb jokes. You wouldn’t mind it, that’s for sure.
The audio system in your car switches to another track, and the engine starts humming a different hum. You turn your thoughts to that Always Open Diner. Your experience with diners varies; there was that time you went there at five in the morning before a somewhat unsuccessful fishing trip, another time where you decided it would be a good idea to try a place that’s been next to where you had been living for the past few months. There’s a certain uncertainty to a diner, the foods within are such staples that you can comfortably classify them as diner foods without feeling like you’re using an unnecessary label. The quality may be suspect, but there are so many parts of it that remind you of meals past, though you know that inherently, this Always Open Diner is nothing like the Always Open Diner you went to at five in the morning. Similar, yes, but so very different. There’s something about these sorts of restaurants that make you feel time slow to about the speed of the maple syrup served within, it might be because of the perpetually sleepy clientele that seems to populate them, the relatively long amount of time it takes for food to be served, when compared to the instant gratification of a Fast Food Restaurant, and yet you don’t mind the fact. Time tends to slow down when you’re sitting on those vinyl seats that almost always strike you with a sense of deja vu.
That’s a good thing, isn’t it? There’s time for you to sit around with a coffee, maybe ponder on the question as to why the place offers a spork as one of its utensils, perhaps stare out a window that hasn’t been cleaned in a while and forget about where you’re going or what you’re supposed to do in a half hour. The two of you would be able to shoot the breeze, have a conversation or two while waiting on plates that may or may not be good. You could leave the building with a greater sense of understanding of the other person, though not necessarily with a satisfied stomach, even though a satisfied stomach is still within the realms of possibility. It’s a magical thing when time slows down for two people, while they sit, laugh, or seriously discuss something, and they’re oblivious to the fact that time’s changing its flow. There’s a greater risk and a much greater reward, the Always Open Diner’s an option that may be more fulfilling. Then again, it may not be.
So, which do you choose? The Fast Food Restaurant, not fifty yards away, which will quell the growing beast dwelling in your stomach with food that you, and many before have eaten and have decided to be at least pretty okay? Or perhaps the Always Open Diner, with its food variable, untested, and quite frankly kind of slow, but uncommonly familiar and potentially fulfilling? Which aspect do you hold more important? Guaranteed satisfaction or possible fulfillment? The choice would be much simpler if there was another to guide your way, to sway your opinion, but someone of that sort isn’t to be found. The choice would be made easier if your passenger could even bring the slightest bit of input; if only the hypothetical, ideal companion was with you at this moment. That is not the case, you are at the intersection of Almost Somewhere and Pretty Much Nowhere with nothing more than the drums and guitar of your music, the ever-changing hum of your car’s engine, a wallet that could accommodate both eateries, and a companion that doesn’t quite care but is growing kind of listless. The fact that you, apparently, aren’t very good with decisions doesn’t really help.
It’s been ten minutes, and you’ve gone through three songs. There still are no cars around you, the air is still, though it is being polluted by whatever’s coming out of your exhaust. You decide to go over the options once more, though at the behest of your passenger, you pick one at random. The atmosphere and your passenger breathe a sigh of relief, as both won’t be subjected to your torture much longer. Your foot lifts from the brake pedal for three seconds, as another song’s lyrics commence, only to push it down again abruptly. The car screeches to another halt. Your passenger groans. It seems your subconscious still needs to deliberate. One thing is for certain, though. You should really get your brakes checked.
Hey everyone. Sorry I’ve been gone. Maybe this 1200 or so word post made up for things? I’ve just been quite busy, quite lazy, and faced quite possibly the largest bout of writer’s block I’ve faced since maybe the eighth grade. And I wrote about my day most of the time in the eighth grade. (other times I complained about people) I think the ten or so essays I’ve had to write about why I’m awesome in various particular ways had to do with it. And as you can clearly see, I don’t have much of an excuse. So. At least I managed to get something in here before the new year rolls around. Oh boy, that’s going to be interesting. As always, if you want to write for this blog and give it some more life (something I’ve obviously been neglecting), leave a comment whilst logged into a wordpress account at the “Write for us!” page or hell, even this post.