If you know anything about me, you know how much I need me a good Beef 'n' Cheddar every twelve or thirteen years. It used to be much more frequent than that. Sometimes more than once a day, if I were working a long shift. And there were some long shifts, back in the day. When I spent what would have been my freshman year in college working for Arby's, there were a lot of long shifts. I opened the place, and worked through lunch. Eventually, I worked my way into an Assistant Manger's vest, and that led to closing the place which, on the weekends, had me getting out of there sometime after one or two in the morning. In all that time, there was a consistency: Beef and Cheddar.
Maybe it was the onion bun. It probably had more to do with the primal meat and cheese connection that has been the top of my food pyramid. That, in turn, is probably one of the driving forces behind me getting a job slinging America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir! It would have made more sense for me to run my own McDonald's franchise, but Arby's happened to be the closest fast food restaurant to my house, and I had an in: one of my best friends already worked there. Looking back, I can see why I was such a find as a prospective employee: high school graduate without a class schedule to juggle, available night and day. I could have made it a career path if I had chosen to, but that wasn't in the cards. And so, my Beef 'n' Cheddar fixation fell by the wayside.
Now, years later, I find myself drawn once again into that cheesy, meaty vortex. It might have something to do with nostalgia. I forced my family and friends to accompany me on my fiftieth birthday to the nearest Arby's we could find. We ate and we laughed and shared stories of those late nights and early mornings. Later, we all moaned and complained about how they just don't make them like they used to, but I think they really still do. It was beef and it was cheddar. Or what approximates that combination in the world of fast food. It could be this lack of verisimilitude that brought on Jon Stewart's series of par-ad-ies. Why be hatin' on Arby's like that?
Why set yourself on fire in front of one? The creepy part, for me, was that one of my co-workers who was also my girlfriend back then moved to Phoenix where last week a man was found engulfed in flames outside that franchise in the Valley of the Sun. A quick thinking store manager rushed out and turned the store's fire extinguisher on the man. And now you can feel free to write your own horrible, terrible Daily Show bit that will probably keep me away from Beef 'n' Cheddar for another few years.