It was a moniker earned back at an age when I could literally live on Slim Jims, Ramen noodles, Molson Ice and those Little Debbie Oatmeal Cakes.
But if ever I sought proof that I was no longer a man of epic intestinal fortitude, I needed to look no further than one tiny hamburger. Krystal. So tasty. So cheap. So deadly. It just goes to show that no good ever comes from buying food by the sackful.
It started out innocently enough. I was home alone, watching football, when a Krystal commercial came on. Actually, I think about 13 Krystal commercials came on.
Call it nostalgia, call it laziness, but in a house full of food that required little more than a microwave or a bowl, I chose instead to put on my big-boy pants (the ones with the stretchy waist) and head on over to that little Krystal palace.
There was a time when the opening of a Krystal was a monumental moment in my life. I don’t know how many of you, dear readers, are familiar with Troy University or the tiny town that houses it, but trust me, it’s a freakin’ metropolis compared to what it looked back around 1995, when I was a wayward boy just trying to make his way as a print journalism student.
Talk about nostalgia … anybody remember when print journalism was something students actually majored in?
Anyway … Troy was so small that after the bars closed, Subway was the only place open. No job on the face of the earth was worse than being a Sandwich Artist after 1 a.m. when The Front Porch gave last call – “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.” We all poured into the Subway next door, which was housed inside a skeevy convenience store, the kind that sold stale Harley Davidson cigarettes to minors.
This Subway didn’t have sneeze guards covering the condiments, it had Sweaty Drunk Frat Boy guards, because that was the only way some of these fools remained upright while ordering their footlong steak-and-cheeses after a night of drinking 7-and-7s while “dancing” to the Velcro Pygmies.
But then … euphoria … a Krystal opened. And Krystal stayed open until like 3 a.m.
We were in line the night it first opened, and for the next two years’ worth of Thursday nights we returned to that drive-thru. I woke up so many mornings surrounded by those little boxes, pickles on my pillow and onions on my breath. (Dating was never much of an option.)
Don’t even get me started on the Chili Pups.
So you’ll forgive me a momentary weakness when those Krystal commercials triggered memories of youth.
See, one cannot simply order three Krystals. Not even five. The staff will actually pelt you with frozen patties. I used to eat 20 at a sitting, so 12 seemed like a fair compromise. I skipped the cheese. I knew better than to order fries.
I scarfed down four before I got to the first red light. I had another in my mouth while unlocking the door. With the TV on, I had two more empty boxes in my lap and another burger halfway down the hatch.
That’s when I hit the wall … gut first. But memories never tasted so good.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org