By Chris Gay
One of my medium-sized pet peeves is being made to watch commercials and ads for appetizing junk food restaurants whose nearest location is, at minimum, four states away. Having lived in Connecticut nearly my whole life so far, I’ve never had occasion to try Chick-fil-A, In-N-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., or Sonic. Well, now you can scratch one off of that list. Sonic recently came to my hometown, bringing with it fanfare the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Nutmeg State got its first Krispy Kreme a few years back.
After passing the new eatery several times, I discovered that my desire for one of those cool looking slushy drinks had not yet been surpassed by my disdain at the prospect of waiting in a line that seemed even longer than this run-on sentence. Last night was a Tuesday however, and though the place was still jammed I had doubts that it’d become any less so as the week progressed.
Costly Wasted Fuel Versus the Pull of a Chili Dog
After a quick glance to the left, where a gas station marquee literally illuminated the fact that my lengthy idling would come at a cost of $4 a gallon, I decided to pull in anyway. What the hell. My latest birthday wasn’t even two weeks past, and it was still fresh enough in my mind to serve as a reminder that time and cholesterol wait for no man.
Now it would seem that I was too dumb to connect the dots between the endless commercials showing Sonic customers in their cars, and the fact that Sonic is an exclusively exterior bistro. Fine. I’d play along. At issue though was that all the stalls were full. As I circled around and around, cars that had come in after me were lucking into slots vacated by their occupants almost instantly after I passed them by. Much like a missed highway exit, there’s no backing up at Sonic. My stomach was getting impatient, and I was playing the automobile equivalent of musical chairs.
The time had come for a different strategy. After one more circle around I pulled off to the right and waited like a famished lion, ready to pounce on the first open stall to present itself. Finally at long last, I saw them; brake lights. Someone was backing out! Immediately I accelerated to 2 MPH less than the maximum parking lot speed limit allowed, and pulled in.
At long last I had made it. Years of being made to watch witty repartee over tasty looking tators in thirty second increments without the ability to join in (short of buying a bag of frozen Ore-Ida’s or spending hours on the New Jersey Turnpike) were over. I decided to savor the moment and the menu. I took my time; thinking there had to be some reason for all of the fervor. The more I read, the more I realized I was looking at a slight variation of a typical fast food menu. No matter. I would not be dissuaded.
Time Travel Through Music
As I read, I could hear the sounds of Sonic’s own radio station spilling music out into the warm summer night. I was born in the 1970’s, and most of the songs predated me. I couldn’t complain though since several of them are on my iPod. What can I say? The Grass Roots “Midnight Confessions” still holds up as well today as it ever has. But I digress.
Even though there’s not the same urgency to order quickly as there is in a more conventional drive-thru lane, eventually it comes time to make up your mind. I decided to push the red order button and give myself until The Voice came on to choose. After a minute or two, it did. I was asked by The Voice to whom had she the pleasure of addressing. I was caught off guard; not certain of the question’s relevance. However, after realizing she didn’t write the script, I passed on several mildly sarcastic response options and answered “Chris.”
The pleasantries dispensed with, I now had to place my order. I was wracked by indecision and out of time. From somewhere I could hear myself asking for the two Chili Cheese Coney combo and a cherry ice cream slushy. And just like that, it was done. I was told my food would be out shortly. With the pressure off and a little time to wait, I checked the cell phone to see if my Buffalo Bills had finally signed a much needed quality offensive lineman. They hadn’t. So I kept waiting and listening to the songs my mom grew up with until the Coneys showed up at my window.
I paid the server and took the bag. I was only five minutes or so from home, but for the full experience, I opted to eat my dinner there. I started with a Coney, then some taters. They were good. I don’t really know what I thought I was getting. Maybe I was anticipating some sort of gourmet dish after all the hype. Then I realized I was in all likelihood expecting far too much for my $7.
The service was friendly, the food decent, and the prices reasonable. Although I’ll wait till the novelty wears off a little and the lines decrease before returning, I’m glad I went. I’m not sure if it was the music, or that the only basketball team I ever cared even a little about was the Seattle Super Sonics. I’m an ice hockey and football guy, but hey; in all sports you have to root for somebody.
God. The Devil. The Bet. The Fate of Mankind in the Balance. Check out my new theological, paranormal crime thriller, Ghost of a Chance.
What if a late 20th Century Jack the Ripper tearing apart a small Connecticut town was the result of a pancake shop bet between God and the devil? Imagine if Satan’s impact on the world in the new millennium hinged entirely on one police officer’s skill in hunting down a ruthless killer…hiding in plain sight. Detective Danny Seabrook is an unwitting pawn in a divine chess match with immeasurable consequences for all mankind. Set primarily in 1995, this action-packed suspense thriller features clever dialogue, humor and romance-with an ending you will never forget.
Chris Gay is an author, freelance writer, voice-over artist, broadcaster and actor. He writes and broadcasts a daily, sponsored minute radio humor spot in Hartford, Connecticut. He’s written three humor books: Shouldn’t Ice Cold Beer Be Frozen? My 365 Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota, And That’s the Way It Was…Give or Take: A Daily Dose of My Radio Writings, and The Bachelor Cookbook: Recipes with a Side of Sarcasm for the Single Guy. He’s currently writing his fourth humor book, Another Round of Ice Cold Beer: My 365 More Random Thoughts to Improve Your Life Not One Iota, along with the Ghost of a Chance sequel Perdition’s Wrath. He has written and voiced radio commercials, authored both comedic and non-comedic freelance articles, scripts, press releases, website, media and technical content, done occasional radio color commentary for local sports, and acted in a couple of movies and plays. He lives in Connecticut.
Hope Springs (Barfly)