Double Decker Elegy

The first time someone tells you they don’t have those, you’re more confused than anything. Too confused to ask anything in reply, too surprised to think of any questions to ask. 

At this point, it is still just confusion. Confusion and disappointment. Complaint as you sit at your desk eating what you finally replacement-ordered, which becomes frustration as you keep thinking about it, which becomes anecdote as you relay the story to friends. Not yet rumination, reflection, another small piece of what at some point you realized has become obsession. An ever growing collection of things lost, forgotten, discontinued, discarded, moved beyond, thrown away, left behind. 

The second time is both more and less surprising. The second time, you realize you didn’t last time ask any follow-up questions because you’d made assumptions that had prevented them. Anymore, you’d filled in the silence. Right now, you’d assumed he’d maybe meant. Here. You hadn’t asked if they’d been removed from the menu—everywhere? forever?—because the idea had been impossible for you to conjure.

The genius, of course, is the very innovation that makes them so enjoyably, humorously ridiculous. The sharks-keep-moving rolling menu of new items, the neverending discovery of new and different ways to wrap and plate and fold and bowl the more-or-less same five ingredients into something new, always given names that sound both familiar and impossible, surprising and yet inevitable, with an every-now-and-then Cheeto thrown into a burrito or a breaded chicken used as utensil to keep things más. 

What’s unsaid but necessary: that madman innovation works because of its marriage to the plain and straightforward, the quotidian, the staples. The bean burritos you’d order two, three, six of when skipping class in high school or as fuel replenishment after a hardcore show in college. The drawer in every house and apartment you’ve ever lived, and in some of places of employment, too, full of mild and hot packets that taste the same now as they have since God said Let there be sauce. The weird flavored Mountain Dews—somehow both mundane and exotic—that you’d never think to consume under normal circumstances, but so often enjoyed when in the middle of hours in the car, a magic road trip elixir. 

Your preferred order of late—Doritos Locos upgrade of outer shell—a kind of microcosm of all this—a marriage of new of new and old, a collapsing and folding together of the past and present, a braiding together of running for the border with yo quieroing with thinking outside the bun with living más.

In the grand scheme, you’ll be fine. You adapt, go with the flow, order whatever is still available and enjoy it all the same. You’ll barely be affected, all things considered. But it isn’t nothing. It shouldn’t not still be missed. Mourned a little, even. Reflected on, remembered fondly. Praised, maybe. Amen.


Aaron Burch is the author of the memoir/literary analysis Stephen King’s The Body; the short story collection, Backswing; and the novella, How to Predict the Weather. He is the Founding Editor of HOBART and is on Twitter @aaron__burch and on the world wide web at aaronburch.net. He misses double decker tacos and, with them gone, no longer has a standing order.

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