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April 15, 2024

Deli Diesel & Beer

By John Dorroh

Deli, Diesel, & Beer

The pressed ham with American cheese and sweet pickles
on white bread looks like wilted soldiers; French fries that
smell like the county fair when I was 10 and virgin to almost
everything; the day-old doughnuts with greasy chocolate and
coagulated pink sprinkles don't call my name. Boone's Farm --
apple and strawberry -- which I thought had been declared
carcinogenic back in the 70s sits on dusty shelves, probably
untouched since 2000; and the diesel that sells for 14 cents
less per gallon than regular unleaded gasoline; the old man
with the walrus moustache and a cane, who never buys more
than five dollars' worth; the friendly brown dog who stands
at the front door, luring kids into his world: a couple of licks
for a pat on the head, helicopter mothers yelling, "Don't
touch that nasty animal. No tellin' where he's been."

I like the Cocoa-cola snow cones, smooth on their rounded
tops like the cheeks of a fairy princess, the color like
coffee au lait on a cold February morning in New Orleans;
the Atkinson's Chick-o-Stix with their weird combination
of toasted coconut and peanut butter. A wall of beer, bottled,
canned, flavored, imported, and generic. There are rows of chips
and pretzels in 35 flavors: ruffled with ridges, smooth
like the ears of the dog at the front door; pulled pork sandwiches
and hot dogs on the roller grills, facsimiles of corn dogs
with free mustard packs, and whimsical condoms in the bathrooms:
rib tickers, Glow-in the dark, and super tight for men who aren't
so well endowed.

It pulls in people off the highway like a magnet, making them
think they need things that that don't. I find everything
and nothing, but never any heartache, never anything
but choices for a boy that makes his head spin like a top.

Article © John Dorroh. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-01-06
Image(s) © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
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