The Church of Arby’s

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I’ve come to understand my deep and steadfast love for Arby’s. It’s not because the food is delicious. Arby’s is the one place that allows me to be my true self.

When the night sky is a pale winter navy over Sunset and Tamarind at 7:23pm, the hot glow of that towering cowboy hat signal is a neon north star for the dregs of society. The patrons at Arby’s are connected by a disgusting commonality. Depraved untouchables, squirming gelatinously from their vehicles to the horsey sauce station. Meat-bound underlings, crawling towards the heated high of au jus, french dipping their intestines into diabetic oblivion. Pigs eating cows.
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There are crystal-rubbing vagrants surrounding the corner booth with broken bicycle parts and beard shavings, staring into their thin beef slices as Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp hums throughout the din at a low and lovely frequency. There are chunky Hispanic couples arguing loudly about perceived sexual glances over their smokehouse brisket sammies. There are forehead-scarred army men, trying to forget their lives for a mere 30 minutes as they inhale their steak fajita flatbread and buffalo chicken sliders. There is me. A thyroid-less lunatic, whom on any other day would attempt to mask his grotesque tendencies, but today, here, now, at this fast food establishment, he is free to air out his bent brains, his bug-eyed behavior, his bellicose mania manifesting in a meaty delirium of “fuck the world” beefery, eating his feelings like they were on fire and the only way to fan the flames was with swift and violent consumption.
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Fuck you, earth. I am the sun, moon, and the cows. I am the end to all lettuce. I am an infinite onion roll, slathered in cheesy garish goop. I am god chugging curly fries. Hello, I’m Arby, nice to fuck you (with my mouth and gut). Now kiss me and tell your friends you’ve smooched the devil. I’ll be in the attic, grinding up against the crumbs on the floor, braying about my golden years as a stomach.
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When I leave I will have nothing. I will no longer be at one with grease. I will no longer be a Picasso of pork belly and pain. My senses will un-dull and I will revert back to societal banalities like laundry and sleep. I will drift away from my self. When I leave this booth and this building and climb back into my 2016 Toyota Camry with it’s working air conditioning and reliable safety rating, I will shed the memory of the meal that was me. I will be a citizen once more, causing no conscious harm to the world or my body. I will be so full that I am empty.
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My words will lose their wonder along with their alliteration. I will peruse the echoes of the internet to find the Nihilist Arby’s twitter handle and see that even this, my most self destructive and authentically profound feelings for this chain of chains has already been explored, inspected, discarded. I will return to bed, beaten like a bear after Folsom. Tattered like a twink after Dore Alley. My mind divided in chaos like the whole city of San Francisco. But I will lie here in Los Angeles and hope for the best in the morning.
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smoke mountain
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I will cling to the quicksand of my youth as I return in one month’s time, ignoring the warnings my father’s death provided. There and then, again, I will fetishize my sadness. I will make it all about me. I will discover the secrets of every one of my flaws and personality defects, my deep-seated issues and phobias, my arrested development and addictions, and I will shove them down into the forgotten bowels of my gullet with the biggest beef n’ cheddar they can bolster. I will figure out how to be happy and toss out my findings with a half-scraped carton of bronco berry sauce.
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It’s waiting for you. You can discover these American secrets for yourselves. As you approach from Santa Monica and Wilton, you’ll return to that voice in your head that asks, “remember when you were a child and nobody liked you?” You’ll answer “Yes. I remember”. It’ll ask “Remember eating lunch in the stairwell?” You’ll answer, “Yes. I remember”. It’ll ask, “Remember feeling content with just being yourself and existing?”. You’ll scratch your head and answer, “Nope. Don’t remember that.” And the voice will laugh a lofty bully-cackle, lacquered with that special brand of childhood malice.
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When your post-gluttony coma commences, you’ll optimistically attempt to think of how tonight could have been worse. You could have chosen Carl’s Jr. only to find one-third of the insight that our great and mighty Arby’s hath subpoena’d. Yet, there is only one true barbecue cowboy god. Only one smoked house of worship. Only one potato cake sanctuary. I bow to you, my queen. I pray on bended knee, to fill my flesh with flesh. Please deliver me from perdition. Provide some respite from myself. Coat me in sugar and salt and let me forget.
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Amen.
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arby's
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