Just Shut Up and Eat

Bedtime Stories/Fiction

I’m feeling a bit lazy today, so rather than blogging something new I’m going to post a short story I wrote for my college writing course. It’s one of the only creative writing assignments that I got all year, so I definitely had a lot of fun with it. Hope you guys enjoy it!


As a cynic, I’ve never believed in chance meetings or love at first sight or eternal love or any of that vomit-inducing, skin-prickling, typical chick-flick nonsense. No, I’m neither a disillusioned optimist nor a despairing misanthrope; I’ve just never liked the idea of handing my life to the capricious hands of fate. When I befriend a special person or become infatuated with a cute boy, I’d like to consider it a result of my commendable social skills or my hormonal urges, not some random gift from the fickle gods. With all this information in mind, you may now call me a hypocrite when I describe to you my fateful first encounter with the love of my life.

It happened at approximately 2.57pm on a hot, cloudless, very Californian Monday morning in June, slightly over three years ago. My mother was driving us in her new Lexus on a narrow, winding road sandwiched by rows of oak trees. We were apparently heading to a plaza with strange names like “Office Depot” and “Costco.” I had left New Zealand only two weeks ago, and California was still an exotic, unfamiliar place.

“So, um, I’m kind of starving.” My twelve-year-old brother Denny complained next to me.

“We just ate two hours ago, kid.” My dad answered with a wry smile. Denny’s appetite is expanding by the minute.

I poked my head out of the rolled-down window, breathing in the still unfamiliar crisp scent of the oak leaves. After two weeks in Irvine I was still missing the smoky, sandy air of New Zealand beaches. Maybe it’s just one of those yearnings that would never fade away.

“Alright. Let’s go eat.” Mom said as we got out of the car, smiling pointedly at Denny, who grinned like puppy that just received a treat.

“What happened to furniture shopping?” Dad asked with a sigh, clearly jaded my mom’s constant change in agenda, a habit that would eventually drive a wedge in their relationship.

Denny, who was still a head shorter than and a lot nicer to me at the time, demanded that we try Taco Bell, of which I had never before heard. What proceeded was the usual heated argument between Denny and Mom of choosing between the tasty and the nutritional. Obviously Mom always won and we headed in the direction of Salad Republic, which happened to be on the opposite side of the plaza.

Here’s the thing: I’m probably one of the most impulsive and impatient person you will ever meet. I hate salad and I hate anything in the extreme: extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme noise. Now, imagine someone like me walking in 100-degree heat with an irked mother, a pissed off brother and an impassive father to eat something I hated.

And it wasn’t even open.

For some reason or another, Salad Republic closed down. Perhaps I wasn’t the only person on this planet who abhorred everything green and leafy. The only other restaurant nearby was In-N-Out. By that point, we were all so over everything that we probably would have eaten expired dog jerky treats.

Given my mood at the time, the last thing I expected to feel when I sank my teeth into that Double-Double burger was a sense of heavenly revelation. Sure, I’ve eaten burgers before, but the juiciness of that extra thick meat patty blended with the melted cheddar cheese was nothing that I had ever tasted before. The ingredients were similar to those in most other burgers, but the manner in which they were fried was so wildly different, the taste so organically rich. I could almost ignore the obnoxious slices of tomato and iceberg lettuce. In my haste to savor the burger, the cheese melted on my tongue and oil dripped off my lips. I could just feel the calories converting into layers of fat in my thighs and stomach as I swallowed mouthful after mouthful of salt and oil and cholesterol. Within seconds, the only thing left scrunched up in my hands was the soggy, oily paper wrapping.

I guess it’s somewhat inappropriate to compare the pure magic of meeting a soul mate to the messy business of swallowing a 500-calorie cheeseburger, but the bliss upon unintentionally discovering something special can’t be too different.

A couple hours later, I found out that I had just eaten arguably the most famous burger in California. I suppose it was a good thing that Salad Republic happened to be closed on that day.

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