Life in the Fast Lane: Surely Make You Lose Your Lunch
My God. I took a week off there, ostensibly because I left my job and have had a hard time doing anything but lying passed out on my roof. But maybe subliminally, I knew that THIS would be the best. week. ever.
Count Frank has craftily slipped out of his fancy metropolitan three-quarter-length velveteen unisuit and into the Foam-n-Mesh-hatted, slogan-T-shirted world of American fast food. That’s right, American— the majority of Frank’s stops were far outside the city, places like Texas and Mississippi, places it's a little harder for a man to wear fuschia or call things “fierce.”
That means a few things.
Waiters, captains, hosts, and cooks, take note: that Gawkered or Googled picture of Frank Bruni you have posted over the pass and inside the reservation book is now totally inaccurate. You want to keep your eyes peeled for someone who looks a little more like this:
Trust me. I went on a cross-country road trip with my best friend a few years ago and gained about 20 lbs in 3 weeks from sitting in a minivan pounding Arby’s 8 hours a day. It didn’t help matters that we contracted bed bugs and had to burn all our clothes and replace them all at Wal-Mart. I have a snapshot of me in front of the geological masterpiece of the Badlands in South Dakota, looking like a wife-abusing grifter dude, the kind of guy with skid-marked underpants and a ponytail you can only describe as “perverted.”
“I swear I left New York in Miu Miu flats and a Chloe dress.”
But more importantly, when you mix Frank’s baudelarian nancetry with the shit-slinging burger huts of middle America, you get an entertaining piece.
Frank opens by describing how flabbergasted his friend was by his ability to spot huge neon signs from the highway. (“How, she asked, had I spotted the sign from so far away?”)
Answer: “I had developed a crazy knack for detecting beef patties and sesame seed buns where they weren't readily apparent.”
Ah! So Frank plays one of my favorite games! “Find the beef.”
From Frank’s mission statement through his indigestion, much of Frank’s trip comes across as totally nasty, a “gluttonous odyssey” from “sea to greasy sea.” Eiw.
But the Count commits. He really luxuriates in the nastiness:
“It was a roving binge as warped road movie: ‘Transfatamerica.’ Or maybe, given our cholesterol-oblivious plunge over a nutritional cliff: ‘Thelma and Disease.’”
Hey, I got one for ya, Frank!
The following statement- or rather, understatement—makes me imagine Frank as a guarded little dauphin prince, playing for the first time with street children: “I'm a pampered diner, my diet richer in squab and poorer in chili dogs than most Americans'.”
But the chateau was left behind long ago.
“…all of my fast food was consumed…in the car, which smelled worse and worse as the trip went on and on. Like an obtuse houseguest or a Supreme Court justice, the scent of a White Castle slider lingers.”
Is Frank saying that when a Supreme Court justice stays over at your house, the scent lingers?
“Honey, Scalia left a doody in the guest room hamper!”
I'd love to excerpt the whole article, really. Frank's language applied to this food is like a La Perla bra on a crabby red-light hooker. Example:
“Among all the incarnations of candy-studded soft ice cream I tried… the Blizzard reigned supreme. It had the most candy most thoroughly integrated into the most sumptuous frozen cradle.”
The most sumptuous frozen cradle!
Aaaand William Butler Yeats stabs his eyes out in a grave.
As for his food reporting, everyone’s got their illogical favorites, and in the end of the day, most of it really is super seductive processed crap. He raves about KFC, which has never failed to make me headachy and barfy. But he puts the Whopper above the Big Mac, and if you know anything about my 8th grade year, you know I became obsessed with Whoppers, was banned from eating them, and purchased them on an intrafamilial black market for $10 a pop from my conniving brother.
Can you believe it? This balloon is powered by the virginity of wan, greasy adolescent girls! Technology, man!
Since we probably won’t see the Count’s Toyota-soiling side again any time soon, I’ll sign off with this, perhaps the grossest excerpt from Frank’s trip:
“Tommy's pours a pasty, forgettable chili over just about everything. … I nibbled on a chili-strangled hot dog and a chili-mugged double cheeseburger and then collected the latest round of voluminous, odiferous trash. What were these mushy, orange squiggles? Gold Star, the indigestion that keeps on giving.”
Next up: The Count returns to the city, replaces boxers with briefs, and promptly flips the bird to the meatpacking district's Sasha.