I live in Fast Food Hell

I will always be one of the first to admit that I’m Not From Around Here. I grew up outside Atlanta, Georgia. A staple of my life before San Francisco was always fast food. This is not, as my stomach has tricked me into thinking, a good thing. As a matter of fact my brain makes me realize that it’s a bad thing. I nonetheless occaisionally have cravings for fast food. It’s turned into a rarely-indulged comfort food, much the way some people view tuna casserole. Despite having grown up with Krispy Kreme and watching folks queue up for them in mile-long lines in disbelief, I still want one every once in a while.

What is worse than this is having a fast food restaurant and then having it snatched away from me. There are no more Wendy’s — the one on Market Street closed. Arby’s remains a 45 minute bus ride up Geary to sit on a patio inundated by gay techno and being served by the same mid-forties asian male with a combover that I have been served by for 12 years — it’s never worth it and my childhood memories make Arby’s seem like the best of the lot. Of course, there is In-N-Out burger at the Wharf. We never had these in Georgia. It’s my new addiction. The most disturbing thing is the new Del Taco on Market Street. These went bankrupt in Georgia twenty years ago, and I could have gone my whole life without seeing another one.

The problem is television. I often see advertising for some new fast food blasphemy on TV and literally start salivating. When Burger King came out with their ENORMOUS OMELET SANDWICH, I had to have one to say that I had eaten the largest sandwich ever devised by fast food. In reality, it gave me the worst heartburn I’d had in ages. I’m definitely a sucker for anything featuring that really creepy Burger King mascot.

Krispy Kreme is an example of obtainable desires from my past, though. The closest one is in Daly City. There are television ads for many fast food places that taunt me mercilessly. I know that this is a quirk of how they sell television ads, but it’s still cruel. There is not a Dunkin Donuts in the state of California, yet I see commercials for them every day now. I am haunted by visions of the Dairy Queen chili cheeseburger (I WANT IT) yet the closest DQ Brazier is in Redwood City. I have no car and it’s not worth a ride on Caltrain to me. I will more than likely NEVER KNOW the joy that is the Sonic Blast drinks — from what I understand, that’s a schlep out to Livermore beyond where the BART train goes.

I know that it’s all an illusion — if I actually ate anything they were advertising, the illusion would be shattered. I cannot have them, yet I desire them. So many things in life are like this.

20 Comments so far

  1. Victoria E (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 11:46 am

    Fast food is so common these days, it is hard to fathom what else we would crave if it weren’t around.


  2. sw (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

    “gay” techo? “mid forties asian male” as if Asian people dont belong at Arby’s? You’re a jerk. Go back to Georgia – you’ll find all the grease-stands you want there.


  3. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

    For your information the guy is the owner and he’s been there forever — I couldn’t imagine going to that Arby’s and NOT seeing him. If you go eat there and have a wonderful fast food experience then I will go back to Georgia.

    You missed the part about his combover, obviously. And yes, the techno is very gay. Get over yourself.


  4. sw (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

    No, I didn’t miss the part about the combover. I’m not sure how the guy being Asian enhances your story at all except to point out that this particular Arby’s doesn’t live up to your “childhood memories”. You are obviously a closet bigot. G’day!

    PS – this is half tongue in cheek. your post did strike me as offensive, but maybe i’m just being too sensitive. it definitely struck me as very not SF and very much not the kind of interesting post I’ve come to expect on this blog.


  5. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    I fail to see how name calling is tongue in cheek. If I tell you that you’re an asshole, how will you react?


  6. Nancy (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    Perhaps the author meant ‘happy, energetic’ techno (okay, it’s a stretch, but let’s not stone the guy) and by my read, the description of his regular food server was just that – a description. I’m asian, and I wasn’t offended. And I do enjoy a Beef n’Chedder myself, every now and then.


  7. sw (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

    Are you borrowing Ted Stevens’ internet connection or what? Lots of the name calling on the net is tongue in cheek.

    Nancy confirms that I was being too sensitive about the Asian comment, so I’ll take that one back. However, I stand by my assertion that this post is a real snoozer.


  8. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

    I don’t take name calling by someone hiding behind anonymity as tongue in cheek, but neither do I take anything anonymous people seriously anyway. I have gotten more than a few people telling me they liked the post. The best thing is that if you really thought it was that boring, you wouldn’t have commented on it. Apathy is more indicative of boredom — you just wanted to call someone a fag basher and a bigot without any social repercussions.


  9. sw (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

    For not taking this seriously, you sure seem to be getting defense. Btw, if you’re thinking about brushing up on your blogging skillz, check out sfist. This classic bit about legalizing pot was on there this morning:

    Actually, it’s not calling for decriminalizing but something almost along the lines– declaring it “the lowest law enforcement priority.” This would put it on the same level as other non-enforced crimes such public urination, prostitution, and shootings.

    Witty! Relevant! Not betraying a deeply-seeded hatred of minorities!


  10. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 1:47 pm

    I think you’re reading something into this whole thing that reflect something deep in your own personality — this is why you’re being all anonymous about it. Perhaps you just feel the need to bring other people down because you feel shitty about yourself? Do you think that I don’t need to defend myself against charges of being a bigot? At least I use my real name when I call you an asshole.

    By the way, the phrase is “deep seated”, not “deep seeded”.


  11. sw (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

    You seem to like that word, “asshole”. At least what you lack in creativity, you make up for with an intimate knowledge of colloquialisms.

    As for my anonymity, does that somehow diminish my point? You seem to take me seriously enough that you can barely let ten minutes go by without a response.


  12. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    Actually, I am having a bad day today and I feel like taking it out on someone without beating their face in. Thank you for being the one constant in the Internet — anonymous jerks who happily feed into my need to blow off steam.


  13. sw (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

    Glad I could help. I’ve enjoyed this little exchange of ours, even though you have been quite out-classed. You spout vulgarities and reference your violent urges while I humorously point out your obvious shortcomings. I should probably stop this before you blow your lid and take it out on your dog or girlfriend. Farewell, may tomorrow by kinder to you.


  14. cd (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

    okay, wait, get away from the bickering for a second – i need to clarify something –

    they closed the wendy’s?!

    i hear you on the need for comfort hometown food and commend you for admitting to it in a city that can be – rightfully – snobby when it comes to cuisine. (difference: while SF has many fantastic, unparalleled restaurants, I don’t think they nullify the value of chains – even fast food).

    Wendy’s was a staple for me while I was living briefly in West Virgina since they really do have a far more varied menu with more actually almost-healthy choices than most. When I got back to California, I realized that as much as I was glad to return to some SF-only favorites, I missed the comfort of a baked potato and side salad.

    So this post was newsworthy and a bit sad for me, thanks.


  15. Darren Mckeeman (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 2:40 pm

    They closed it down because the building got sold and is being made into luxury condos.

    Mostly, this post came out of the frustration of being teased with something I can never have. I keep seeing John Goodman voiced ads for Dunkin Donuts (a chain from back east) when there’s not a DD in the entire state.

    Don’t get me started on Waffle House. The closest one is in Phoenix.


  16. cd (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 4:42 pm

    okay, i’ll part ways with you on waffle house, but DD can be good. and yeah, you don’t notice it not being in Cali until you go to a north-eastern city where it is damn near on every corner (philly, i’m looking at you . . . .)


  17. The Skirt (unregistered) on September 14th, 2006 @ 6:45 pm

    Hey Darren, for what it’s worth, I liked your post too. I read for the opinions and the quirkiness, and you delivered here IMHO.

    I empathise about the fast food hell too. Living in NZ but using the internet, I know a lot about delectable-sounding fast food treats that are more than a 12-hour flight away!


  18. anna (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 1:12 am

    Great post Darren. Your posts have a good combination of insider-city stuff, but accessible if you don’t live here. I too have a love of fast food that I manage to tame about once a quarter, and I go to In & Out @ fishy wharf, where I get to catch teens in their habitat. The tough part is walking home without sucking down the entire chocolate shake.


  19. SFGary (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 11:23 am

    what! we have fast food restaurants in SF? Isn’t it against some city law?


  20. k (unregistered) on September 15th, 2006 @ 5:55 pm

    just go a little south; san jose is infected all over the place with fast food joints of all types. and, there’s a dunkin donuts down the street from me, so eh.



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