By (Ex-)Officer Jack Keillor
This world doesn’t care about you.
It’s not its fault, it’s not your fault. It just is. It’s the way it always was and the way it always will be. The meaning you find, what you choose to live for? That’s up to you. There will be no grand gestures, no guardian angels looking out for you. There’s just you, and it, and everyone around you trying to figure out the same damn things in the same damn ways. Always alone. Even in the company of others. Especially in the company of others. You will never know a true happiness that isn’t fleeting, a spark that doesn’t immediately extinguish itself because that is what being alive is all about. It’s about the wanting, not the having. So imagine my surprise when I first tasted the Naked Crispy Chicken Chalupa from Taco Bell.
In my 63 years of life on this planet I’ve found that less and less with each passing year has gotten me excited. Back when I was a kid even going to the dentist was something of an adventure, but now? You could tell me that I was going to space tomorrow and I’d ask you what they’ve got for TV up there and what kind of beds they’re going to make us sleep in, and I would complain. Oh, how I’d complain. I don’t mean to do it, it’s just who I am now more than ever. Then this past weekend, on the way home from a dear friend’s funeral, I tried the Naked Crispy Chicken Chalupa and knew that nothing would be the same again.
If you had asked me last week if I thought deep-fried chicken would make a good taco shell, I’d have unholstered my service revolver and emptied it into your face. “A crispy chicken shell on a taco?” I’d say, barely able to look at your destroyed face, “You deserved worse, friend.” Without trying it, the very idea sounds repulsive. “Tacos have hard, corn-based shells or they aren’t a taco,” I’ve always said to strangers while waiting in line at the bank or the local corner store with no provocation. My anti-soft-shell taco approach to life has been one that is well-documented, as well. To even consider the idea of some kind of crispy chicken shell anomaly was reproachable to say the least, but I owed a dear newly departed friend the benefit of the doubt. So I gave the affront to God a shot.
If Heaven made tacos, these would be those tacos. The crispy chicken shell is delightful, the lettuce, cheese, tomato and, if I’m not mistaken, a hint of mayo, is everything our parents promised us when they gave us life. This is the future they wanted for us. It’s not just that the tastes of each ingredient compliments eachother, it’s that it surpasses all expectation as to how fulfilling a food product can be. Never again will man wonder, “Is this all there is?” because we have found out Heaven on Earth. We have found that something that we’ve been searching for before we even knew we were searching. To think that Taco Bell brought it to us for under four dollars is something that scholars will be trying to parcel for years to come. Move over Egypt and your dumbass pyramids: this will be humanities longest-lasting legacy.
Were my hypothetical good friend still alive today, I would tell him, “Listen Mark, I know that I put six bullets in your face and yelled at your gross dead body a bunch for suggesting that this would be a good taco, but you were right. By God, you were right.” I would the salute him and take my own life out of embarrassment. Then again, had I not, hypothetically, shot this friend in the face I wouldn’t have been driving home from that hypothetical funeral and hypothetically passed that Taco Bell, getting a little hypothetically choked up before hypothetically purchasing the taco while hypothetically crying so hard I nearly hypothetically choked on it before hypothetically having my entire life changed.
Damn it, Mark, if I had only known this before you hypothetically died and your wife and kids weren’t hypothetically more alone than they’ve ever been I wouldn’t have hypothetically destroyed all of our lives, but damn it, don’t act like you’re not also hypothetically to blame. You can’t just hypothetically drop such strong hypothetical opinions about tacos like that to an armed man with a temper like mine. You have just as much hypothetical blood on your hands as I do. I just wanted to get a cup of coffee and talk about the old times and you drop this on me? In a crowded coffee shop? Leaving me no choice but to take your life and the lives of everyone between me and the hypothetical door? How dare you, Mark. You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that you were the one that was hypothetically wrong in all this. Now you’ve got two daughters that are going to grow up without a daddy and I’ve lost my best damn friend in the whole world just because you couldn’t figure a better way to break this whole “crispy chicken taco” thing to me? I would have been on your side, Mark, if you’d only been more careful in your words. At the very least you could have hypothetically disarmed me.
Who’s fault it is doesn’t matter, I suppose. At least not until the hypothetical trial. Whether I win or lose, I just hope your hypothetical family finds some kind of solace in the fact that I tried your damn taco and you were right; it’s the best damn thing I’ve ever tasted. For every day I remain a free man, I will have one in your honor. You’ve finally given me something in this world that feels like it was made for me, like it was what I’d always been waiting for. You finally gave me something that made me feel like the world cares. Just a little bit.