Thursday, June 08, 2006

elephants' graveyard


I don't know why but a lot of old people go to Carl's Jr. to eat salads. There's something depressing about this. Partly, it's just annoyance at having to eat my six dollar jalepeno burger in such an environment of reprobation. This afternoon, I was biting down into this formidable creation, my eyes closing involuntarily to get a good mouthful, jaws unhinging like a boa constrictor, when I felt the gaze of the grey-haired lady next to me, clutching the perversity that was her low carb bunless and seemingly meatless "burger" in hand. She had a pair of those wraparound sunlight resistant sunglasses on so I couldn't really tell what she was thinking. But I imagined that her eyes were sending me darts of jealousy, suppressed torment, resignation. Her companion, unaware of the tensions being exchanged, was stirring fat-free Italian dressing into his salad.

When people get older, and are that much closer to death, I think they should enjoy what is left of life. Instead of squandering away their last available years of pleasure on illusions of good health. Isn't it a little late for such preventive measures? How many more minutes will they be adding to their lives by eating one more salad? It's unethical to eat salads at burger joints. And senior citizens should be particularly prohibited from this type of behavior. Those sorts of people are probably the same ones who convert to Christianity on their deathbed, futilely searching for truth in the cliche "better late than never". I'm sorry but sometimes it is too late.

Only slightly more depressing is the MacDonald's in Koreatown on 8th and Western. That branch is popular with old Korean folks who have no place to go during the day. If they were in Seoul, they would be meeting their friends at Pagoda Park, flirting with other seniors, playing chess outdoors under the hum of the cicadas hidden in the canopy of trees. But in LA, where there are no parks and only blocks of concrete, they amass at this MacDonald's with packed lunches and thermoses of tea, too frugal even to buy themselves a cup of coffee. I was told that the owner of that location felt so sorry for them that he erected a tent outside and put picnic tables out there for them. So now you can see them lounging about a little more comfortably, but still with that displaced look about them like they didn't know how it is that they came to be in America.

When I get really old, that's when I plan to be truly debaucherous. My current regimen of exercise and healthy eating is all just part of my greater retirement plan. I figure that once I pass 60, that's license to start drinking continuously from morning to night. I'll take up smoking again and live exclusively on fried chicken and pork products. All of us need goals and have dreams. Some are more attainable than others. I feel very fortunate right now that I have the foresight to work towards a tangible future and achieve these goals though they may loom distant and daunting. I vow to let nothing stand in my way.

7 comments:

Fehlleistungen said...

First of all, are you in Scotland? Or on someone's old farm? Secondly, sure, sometimes I see old folks "playing chess outdoors under the hum of the cicadas hidden in the canopy of trees" in Pagoda Park, but more often I see old folks squatting on squares of cardboard, squinting into the dirty wind and totally blitzed on soju. (There's nothing wrong with that, mind you. I just wanted to inject a little earthy and drunken realism into your idyllic scene.) Finally: I rejoice in your resolve, and myself vow to join you for some good fried chicken and pint after pint of blindingly cold beer starting at age 60. Or even 59. There's nothing more heartening to see an old person who's alive. Golden years indeed!

minsuhson said...

1) Your question stumps me. Scotland? Farm?

2) I curse you for popping my bubble of orientalizing and wishful nostalgia-driven fantasy.

3) Maybe 58? Get a headstart.

minsuhson said...

By the way, after I dropped you off at your house last night (at about 12:30?) I headed directly to Carl's Jr. and was heartened to see a sign that said "open 24 hours". But I was distracted by the place across the road "Cinco de Mayo" and ended up ordering two tacos--one carne asada, one cabeza (with no idea what meat that is)--and ate it by myself, still scantily clad in my exercise attire that I realized I had been wearing for 7 hours straight. I'm trying to forget the fact that I went to the bar dressed like that and pretended to have normal conversations with a group of such well-heeled ivy-league professors.

Oh the sobering light of truth, it blinds me. Turn it off...

minsuhson said...

It seems that "cabeza" is Spanish for "head". I don't know how I feel about this.

Fehlleistungen said...

TACOS DE CABEZA, literally meaning “head tacos”, are just that. A traditional breakfast in Sonora and the Baj√≠o, they are also popular in Mexico City. Traditionally, the head of a steer was steamed all night, the bones and gristle removed in the morning, and the meat shredded and stirred with its broth. Taco stands offering this specialty are distinguished by huge metal steamers in which the pieces of meat are cooked. Being an inexpensive meat, the stands selling it are often located in humble neighborhoods. Since the meat is steamed for a long period of time, it is well-cooked without grease of any kind. The customer chooses the type of meat from a large assortment, including sesos (brains), oreja (ear meat) and lengua (tongue) among others. The first-time consumer might want to stick with maciza, which is a boneless piece of beef. Toppings for tacos de cabeza are chopped onions and chopped cilantro and red or green salsa. http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/recipes/puebla/kgtacos1.html

Fehlleistungen said...

My inappropriate-attire-wearing, cabeza-eating friend: "MacDonald" is an esteemed surname or the old geezer with a farm populated by noisy animals, but an American fast food chain it is not. (Sobering light of truth: set to stun.)

minsuhson said...

Ah, right. I'm slow to the punch. (Am I now mixing metaphors? What does that expression really mean?) Who knows. Clearly my spelling of McD's is an extension of my immigrant upbringing where I naturally have transliterated what I hear to be "Maek-do-nald" in my wee head. But somehow I see links between this spelling, the cabeza taco, and my shriveled brain stem. Set to: Put out of misery.