French Fry Failure
No, Lars and I aren’t smoking a bag of weed. It’s Five Guys fries.
A couple weeks after Lars’ birthday, I decide that if I don’t get called into work I’m gonna go to Five Guys and order two large fries for lunch. The girl shovelling fries into the paper bag asks me if I want my order double-bagged, “because with this many fries one bag won’t stop the grease. These are to go, right? I mean…” and she catches herself before making an embarrassing judgment remark.
“No,” I pat my heart, “I’m not going to eat two orders of fries all by myself.” Even though I would gladly accept that challenge.
I drive to Lars’ sidewalk, inhaling the goodness of french fry odor filling my car.
Rather than take my normal spot on his right, I walk past him so he’s facing me and then lower myself down onto the stone cold concrete. Lars allows one quick glance at the large paper bag before ducking his head back down between his shoulders. And with that, I know I blew it.
I try anyway, “Hey, man. I got us some fries.”
Shoot. “You sure?” I open the bag. Not only are the normal Five Guy soft-drink cups stuffed to overflowing, the bag is five inches deep in extra fries. “We got ketchup. The girl gave us mayo too.”
“No thanks,” he answers distantly.
I’ve wounded him. Not respected him. Now what?
Eat the fries, man.
Maybe the heat from the open bag will change his mind. Warm food?
I pull out a container of ketchup and start eating fries from one of the cups. The fries are so good. The chill of the air around us is greater than any gust of wind we might get from the passing cars. My hands are turning that cold pale, red-at-the-fingertips color. My back shivers involuntarily as I lean against the covered glass of the liquor store. The warmth of the fries headed to my mouth, in my mouth, swallowing, is so, so good.
Why won’t he share a meal? Did he have a family? Are those the last people he ate with? He’s eaten with me around before. Dude, Lars, you want these fries while they’re hot…
Eventually, I slow down, surrendered to the thought, There’s no keeping these fries hot. I can leave him some, but they’ll be lukewarm.
…Nobody wants lukewarm.
I can’t bail and treat this like a hand-out. That’d be worse. I have to finish my half of the bag. If he eats the other half when I leave, great. If not, fine.
And so the steam rises, the fries go down, and Lars keeps his hands tucked into the tops of his winter boots.
- (more below)
- I’ve decided this may be the last time I write about Lars and me. Not because I’m going to stop going to hang out with him, but because my journal, to me, has been about my learning how to relate to the guy. Now that I consider him a friend, it seems weird to keep writing about it. I mean, do you write about sharing fries with some buddies? Why? It’s kinda… regular.
As I did the following sketches, I thought about the two of us. Lars takes the plastic lid off his ToGo coffee when he’s finished drinking, folds the lid, and tucks it inside of the cup. Why? Never asked. Didn’t have to. I do the same. But with hot chocolate instead of coffee.
Lars smokes. I don’t. But if I did, and I was in his position, I’d do the same. I’d have a little tin that I’d keep nearly smoked cigarettes in. I don’t know where Lars keeps his little tin, but I’d tuck mine in my inside coat pocket.