I just turned 30. This is a big deal.
Technically, I am now closer to death than I am to birth (Well, maybe not technically, but you get the point). After my experience last week, I am assuredly much closer to my final breath.
What is a man to do in anticipation of such a momentous occasion? How can such a milestone be celebrated? The following is an account of my mid-life crisis.
While driving down Glenway Avenue on the Westside of Cincinnati on Thursday, April 22(Earth Day), I realized what I must do. I would celebrate and mark this slow march unto death by doing something so outrageous, so dangerous, and so remarkable, that I might not even make it to my 30th birthday.
It was time to Double Down.
I've joked with friends about the new offering from KFC several times since we were first inundated with countless commercials espousing the delights of eating a sandwich that replaces buns with pieces of chicken, but I never thought I would really eat one. I mean, it's absolutely disgusting and completely impractical.
But that's when God intervened. It had to be divine. A ridiculous radio advertisement assaulted me with loud pronouncements of the merits of the Double Down. Convincing statements like, "It will destroy your hunger!" and "So much chicken, there wasn't room for a bun," worked magic on my impressionable stomach and mind at the exact time that I saw the Colonel's establishment ahead on the left.
"Am I really going to do this? I can't tell Heidi, she will kill me (if the Double Down doesn't kill me first). Am I really going to walk into a KFC? I haven't been in one since I was 11 years old. There is no way I am doing this. Why is my turn signal on? Why am I turning into the parking lot? I should stop, but I can't. I won't."
Walking into a KFC on a random afternoon is an experience that I can't quite capture in words. The mauve/pink paint and Monet-inspired impressionist artwork really threw me for a loop... What is the atmosphere KFC is trying to create? I can only assume it's something along the lines of creating a soothing space to allow for melancholy whilst your bowels explode.
The girl working the register looked as surprised to see me as I was to be there. One patron was hanging out at a table near the register, and she was only drinking an extra large pop. I glanced around at the menu above the register, although I knew exactly what I would order. I came here for one purpose, and damnit, I was going to accomplish this.
"What can I get you?"
"I'll take one of those Double Down things," I said with fear and shame.
"You want that friend or grilled?"
"Fried, of course, this isn't Kentucky Grilled Chicken"
"Anything else?" (Apparently she did not appreciate me subtle and charming wit... Most people don't
"No, I'm good."
"You want that in a combo?"
"I don't think so. Not sure I'm man enough." (Again, no response). "But hold the special sauce... What is the sauce?"
"I don't know... it's like that pink salad dressing stuff."
"Yeah, definitely hold the sauce then."
"You gonna eat one of them Double Down things?" shouted the girl with the large beverage.
"I'm going to try."
"That thing looks nasty. There really ain't no bun?"
"That's what I'm told."
As my Double Down arrived in a box on a tray, the big-beveraged girl's curiosity got the best of her. As she jumped up to examine my purchase, she said,
"Damn, that's a lot of meat."
Holding back the "That's what she said," comment I wanted to make, I simply replied, "Yes, yes it is."
As I sat down to enjoy my last supper, I couldn't help but think about how my life was going to change. My friends Kenny, Coates and Russ like meat a whole lot. We often sit around and talk about how much we like meat, and how the only thing wrong with items like hamburgers and hot dogs is the presence of a bun... which is not meat. It has always been a running joke, usually told most while camping, but I never thought anybody was listening.
Apparently the Colonel is always listening, and making dreams come true like Santa Claus or a magical genie.
As I sat down to tackle this dead bird and bacon sandwich, Elton John's "Circle of Life" flooded the room (That's a fact, I'm not making it up. In the words of Bad Religion: "Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction," and in the words of Alanis Morissette: "Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?")
In the circle of liiiife... It's a wheel of fortuuuune...
With Elton giving me moral support, I managed to pick up the Double Down and take my first bite. As a stream of grease spurted out on my beard, I realized that this was going to be a challenge. Although the 3rd degree burn on my face hurt, the pain of feeling my arteries harden was the worst part.
That and the constant reaching for napkins.
If I've learned one thing from this experience, it's that the existence of a bun to hold your sandwich is a good thing. Why was it necessary to eliminate this? Are there people putting comments in the suggestion box at the local KFC that read, "I want to have grease drip down to me elbows and have my fingers stink like chicken for three days. Can you get rid of the bun?" Or, "I bought a bucket of chicken and took it home and made B.L.T.s with the thighs. You should do something like that?" Who's in charge down there at the KFC headquarters? Who green-lighted this idea?
6.5 minutes after my first bite, the last bite was completed. I folded my receipt and placed it in my pocket (just in case I need to provide evidence for a future lawsuit). I contemplated how much damage I must have just done to my body, but the nutrition information was oddly nowhere to be seen (Nutrition stats for the DD: 540 calories 32 grams of fat and 1380 mg of sodium. That sodium level sounds a little high, but I'm no nutritionist).
Standing up, the words of Sir Elton continued to resound:
In the circle of life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life
I'm not sure what role I play in the circle of life, but I'm quite sure that what I did that day had nothing to do with life/fortune/faith/hope. In fact, I'm relatively certain that my path is winding toward a certain and painful demise. I'm also certain that I will never eat another Double Down for as long as I live.