A recap of our drive home from Philly on Sunday night:
7:10 pm- Driving up I-95, mild hunger sets in. No problem, there’ll be plenty of rest stops along the way.
7:45 pm- Hmm, now I’m starting to get hungry. I wonder where the next rest stop is.
8:00 pm- Amanda spots a sign for Chick-fil-A. “Ooh, Chick-fil-A!” she says. “I didn’t know they had them up here!” (she’s from North Carolina). “But they’re usually closed on Sundays.”
“How come?” I ask.
“Because they’re religious.”
8:30 pm- Another Chick-fil-A sign! Maybe in Jersey they’re open on Sundays. After all, this isn’t the Bible Belt. We take the exit and I inspect the sign more closely: “Chick-fil-A. CLOSED ON SUNDAYS”. Aargh. God doesn’t want me to have a chicken sandwich.
8:45 pm- My stomach starts to eat itself.
9:00 pm- We’re having obsessive food thoughts. We start playing the food game, a simultaneously enjoyable and excruciating exercise.
“You know what would be awesome right now? Lobster with ginger and scallion.”
“Ooooh… or saag paneer.”
“Miso black cod at Morimoto.”
“Shrimp po’ boy.”
9:05 pm- Critical decision— there’s a rest stop 2 miles up ahead. But traffic’s building up on 95 and the exit for the Garden State Parkway is only 1 mile away. Do we hit the rest stop and take a chance on traffic, or do we get off 95? We get off.
9:15 pm- I spot a sign for McDonald’s and Lukoil. Slim pickings. There’s got to be something in Paramus. We keep driving.
9:40 pm- We’re drooling like bloodhounds. Then finally, a rest stop with a Burger King up ahead! It’s no Chick-fil-A, but beggars can’t be choosers. Let’s eat!
9:45 pm- We stumble to the counter like thirsty travelers finding an oasis in the desert. The customer ahead of us alerts us to a problem— apparently, BK’s almost completely out of food, including burgers. Whaaaat? BURGER King is out of burgers?! Is this the Twilight Zone? I’m starting to feel like Michael Douglas in Falling Down when he goes nutty because the employees at Whammy Burger won’t serve him breakfast. Our options are a fried chicken sandwich, a fried crispy chicken sandwich or a fried fish sandwich. We both go with fried option A and I ask pitifully, “Do you have any burgers left?”
Lady Behind Counter: “We have one.”
“Yes, just one.”
“I’ll take it!”
Of course, they probably found this burger under the french fryer, dusted it off and made a bet on which sucker would actually eat it. I don’t care, it’s mine. Amanda and I rapturously enjoy our chicken sandwiches. Then trembling, I open the wrapper to view my beloved burger, adorned with pickles and ketchup. Here it is folks, 9:50 pm, the last Burger King burger at the Montvale rest stop in New Jersey…
To a hungry man, it was a thing of beauty.