Defeat at Del Taco: Shadesbreath vs. the Dreaded Number 15
I will simply begin by saying: For the love of God, what human, what mortal, could possibly eat a #15 value meal from Del Taco?
Today at lunch, I decided to hit the Del Taco near my work. I’m not a super regular customer of theirs, but I go two or three times a year. So, it was apparently my time again, and there I was in the drive-through contemplating their menu.
Most of the value-menu combos were like two items and a drink. “Two tacos and a drink” or “a Double-Del cheeseburger, fries and a drink.” Stuff like that. Just two things. Well, I’m a big fellow and possess an appetite of more prodigious girth than that sort of paltry two-piece offering can satisfy, so I kept looking down the long menu--so long that it actually included little carboard sections attached to the bottom of the drive-through menu sign... meals that innocuously seemed like afterthoughts. At last I got to combo #15, consisting of two half-pound bean-and-cheese burritos, chili-cheese fries and a drink.
Hah, thought I, TWO burritos. Half pounders! Plus fries—and not just regular, boring-ass fries but chili fries. With cheese. Three items, and with manly toppings. Clearly I’d found what I required to sate my appetite, so I ordered it.
Well, there I was, sitting in my truck enjoying my lunch. Obviously I started with the chili fries because anyone who knows anything about the fast-food culinary experience understands that you must always eat chili fries first, otherwise the chili gets cold, the ends of the fries sticking out from the chili get even colder, and then the whole thing goes from delicious gas-making excellence to disgusting tub of lard-textured goo. I, being a fast food gourmet, knew better, and therefore began this meal in the proper order. Needless to say, the chili fries were delicious, and I mopped up every last drop of chili sauce and melty cheese from the bottom of the vacuous cardboard trough. Mmmm.
So, on to the burritos. I pulled the first one out of the bag, and the scent of succulent beans and spicy green sauce worked like an olfactory lover, her steamy fingers running through my nose hair as she moaned in beany silence at me.
I carefully rolled the top of the bag down to preserve the heat of my second burrito and then peeled away the wax paper lingerie wrapped around the one I held. It was warm in my hand, soft like a lover’s bosom. My trembling fingers worked on the wrapper dexterously, exposing the pale white of its flour tortilla flesh as I undressed it. I gasped at its magnificence.
I was blissful as I ate and everything was wonderful. For a time. Until I got about halfway through. That’s when the mass of French fries and chili cheese finished its descent through my esophagus and landed like a sea anchor on the ocean floor of my stomach. As I sat chewing the most recent bite of my burrito, I felt that taterous wad hit, and thought, My God, I’m full.
I pulled my face away from the open end of the half-eaten tortilla tube of beans and stared into it blankly. Suddenly it no longer looked as sumptuous as it had only moments before. It was as if morning had come and my decision to be with this thing last night revealed itself to be a horrifying mistake. Egad! What was I to do?
I began to fear I could not finish it. Me. A master of the fast food arts. A champion of poor dietary decision making. A gendarme of gluttony. I felt the fear course through me, threatening the very underpinnings of my universe, but I pushed it back. Of course I could finish it. What kind of man do you think I am?
So I pressed on.
After a few more bites, I was nearly three-quarters done with it. Each bite was a chore. The once soft, succulent beans that had popped so delightfully in my mouth as I chewed were now beads of asphalt on a hot summer day, each one foul and eternally tactile. They fought me, tasting like gasoline and oily residue all the while. But I didn’t give up. There was still another burrito in the bag! I had to keep going.
I took another bite. It tried to kill me, swelling with an increasing mushiness that seemed to be trying to suffocate me. Chewing that mash was an agony. But what could I do? Still a quarter of this first burrito to go. There was no way I was going to waste all that food, all that money, and throw this crap away. No way. Not $5.99. So I had to be smart, find a strategic approach.
For a moment I considered unhinging my jaw. I knew that pythons and boa constrictors do that all the time; I have seen them on T.V. I also knew that humans shared a common ancestor with modern reptiles, a link dating way back to the time before time, an age where failure to eat when sustenance was available meant death. It meant that your genetic material would not be passed on through your offspring. Given this, given that my children’s very lives were at stake, I had to finish these burritos.
I reached inside of me, sought my primitive side and attempted to unhinge my jaw like my snake ancestors did, tried to open up my face and just wrap myself around the rest of my burrito in the noble python way.
But I could not.
It turns out unhinging your jaw is harder to do than those snakes in the documentaries make it look. No matter how hard I pried and contorted, I could not do it. I was just too distant from even my closest reptilian ancestor. I wept in fear for my sweet children.
Clearly, I had to try another tactic. Fortunately, being a fan of all things renaissance and of its history and wars, I know a bit about old-world tactics and weaponry, including cannons. I decided my next approach would be more direct, more human-like, an act of war: I needed a ramrod. I knew that, by tilting my head back, I could use it to just jam what remained of the first burrito down like the cannon-ball mass it had become and then get the second one stuffed in behind it right after. Two down and call it a day.
But alas, I had no ramrod, so I had to do it with a pen. That didn’t work very well. The burrito just got all nasty as the tortilla was stabbed to death. It was messy and the taste of the ink only made things worse (plus, tonight I’m going to have to explain those marks to my wife).
In the end, I could only get the last quarter of the first burrito down. There was no hope for the second one. I had failed. It was an impossible task I’d set for myself. Herculean even. There was nothing more I could do but accept it.
So now here I sit, several hours later. The peristaltic ramifications of my work with the ramrod have passed, that cannon fired so to speak, and I have only the memory of that Del Taco #15 and its monstrous proportions. I have that memory and I have the shame.
I took the untouched burrito back to work with me, by the way, still steaming from the bag, and offered it up to any who might be interested in a free lunch. To my eternal disgrace, it was easily dispatched by a girl.
# # #
(For those who may be worried, my kids are fine. Turns out nothing happened to them as a consequence, so my genetic material lives on!)
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