DINNER 130: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I was scheduled to have class this evening, but when I got to school, there was a note on the door notifying us that class had been cancelled (an email ahead of time sure would have been nice and would have saved the $2 for parking, but hey, you can’t have everything!), so I had an unexpectedly free evening.

On the way home, I dashed through Taco Bell for a couple tacos and a Chili-Cheese Burrito (which I still call a “Chilito”, from the long-ago Zantigo days) before heading home. Wendy had a brush-up rehearsal, so I played Oblivion and watched some TV until she got home.

Taco BellI am reminded of when I was a kid and we’d go to the Zantigo (later Taco Bell) out on Beechmont Avenue in the eastern suburbs of Cincinnati. In keeping with the pseudo-southwest theme of the chains, the restaurant had been decorated with high shelves full of knick-knacks around the dining area — things like fake plants, little ceramic donkeys, and plastic cacti. The shelves were about 9 feet off the ground. Too high to reach without a ladder, but just the right height for some hijinks…

One of the kids I used to hang around with (not me, honest!) had the idea that surreptitiously lobbing food items up onto the high shelf was not only fun at the time of the lobbing, but the fun actually MULTIPLIED when considering the already-foul food putrefying over time up there next to the little ceramic donkey.

So, from time to time, and extra burrito or taco would be ordered, unwrapped, and prepared for flight. We learned from experience that nachos were a bad candidate for lobbing since they tended to break-up in mid-flight and make a heck of a clatter as the individual chips crashed back to the floor. Burritos, it was discovered, were exceedingly aerodynamic and not only looked beautiful in mid-flight – smooth white tortilla contrasting with the sand-colored walls — but landed softly on the high shelf, nestling themselves comfortably among the brik-a-brac and beginning the long fermentation process.

Visits on subsequent weekends would reveal a restaurant growing increasingly smelly. It must have taken the poor hourly workers quite some time to discover the source of the foul odor, and the stunt was able to be repeated several times before we, frankly, outgrew it.

I haven’t been to the Taco Bell on Beechmont Avenue in many years now. I wonder if the shelves are still there. If they are, I would fully expect to find a mummified burrito up there, near the ceramic donkey.

Ceramic Donkey

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