tropic of sandwich

I celebrated the tenth anniversary of my eighteenth birthday with Stephen, my new flatmate from Australia and the telly on a cold Wednesday in November in the East Village. No one else could come – or would come – but I wasn’t alone at my party. A feeling of abandonment haunted me until our last drink together. I watched the first snow fall through my window before I went to sleep.

One moulten candle in a carrot muffin on the bookshelf and my flatmate naked, snoring in my bathtub next to an empty bottle of gin assaulted my eyes and ears the following day.The gray dawn caressed my face tenderly, then it kissed my pile of laundry. A nightmare had awakened me to a hangover and mild dysphoria.

Hunger struck at seven o’clock in the morning. Our fridge was empty again, except for a pizza box with a chewed-out crust leftover in it. Reluctantly, I made the decision to walk outside our building and cross the street in the freezing weather to find some fast food. Nothing else was open for a few blocks and it gave me the chance to flirt with Chrissy, the new clerk.

Chrissy was off that day and I was greeted instead by Kat, a sylph with Dynel curls falling from a visor. Her rhinestone-studded acrylic nails and perkiness belied the symptoms of a person suffering from helium ankles syndrome, which is often triggered after drinks at a club. “How may I assist you today?” was smothered in a very charming, unplaceable accent. My bovine expression stumped our communication for a moment, until I pointed at the Fish Patty Combo. “With fries?” Yes, please. I purchased a small coffee for Stephen as well. “Have a nice day!”

I walked in to find Stephen sitting in the buff on our couch with the heater turned on to scorch, as he watched the morning news on the telly. He waved at me and I waved in return. I sat on the minuscule patio set we used as dining room furniture and I took a bite out of the soggy patty. My expression must have been of such disgust that he got up from the couch and walked over to my plate. He grabbed the coffee and the meal, then said “Let me do something for you, but close your eyes!”

An unceremonious thud on the table announced the return of my plate. It all looked the same to me. What had he done to it? The first bite and my glare of suspicion at him became distant memories once my tongue did somersaults and my eyes and sinuses were overpowered by wasabi. Bastard! We laughed together. However, I continued to devour my meal with relief. The subsequent high opened up the vision of a world for me where I could coexist in harmony with Thai spices, Tabasco sauce and endless hot dressings. Flog me raw forever, you beastly hot sauces! Vile take-out food, you have never had it this good.

Text: © Lucius Bod, 2010
Images: © Christopher Stribley, © Stefano Corso

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