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  • One favorite part of going back to the US this summer was seeing my friends. I am always amazed after being away from my friends how much I truly like and how each of my friends brings a unique gift to my life.

    Pat is not excluded from this compliment. Over the past 16 years, Pat has been my right hand man…we have lived together, worked together, played together, but mostly what Pat and I do best together is laugh. Pat makes me laugh like few on this Earth. This is not because he is silly although he has been known to be a clown. Pat has a special way of serving up the cold harsh truth in such a way that it makes it impossible not to see the absurdity of whatever he is pointing out to the point where you end up peeing your pants.

    Because I enjoy peeing my pants every once in a while, I decided during my vacation to take Pat to my desert house and spend the day with him driving around looking at nothing but tumbleweeds and creosote because I knew he would fill the afternoon up with his famous observations…this particular afternoon, Pat’s George Carlinesque attention has turned to KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken for those of you who were born before KFC entered the vascular system of American culture.

    He begins his diatribe shortly after driving past the KFC in Yucca Valley California. Yucca Valley is one of the few places in Southern California that resonates the energy of Wyoming. Full of blue collar, red neck, ATV enthusiasts, Yucca Valley is where SoCal tends to put its white trash and when we pass by the Yucca Valley KFC, the entire village seems to be feasting there…it is packed.

    Pat can’t help but notice as we drive by,

    “Jesus, look at those idiots in the KFC.”

    I smirk, look out the word and wait for what’s next.

    “Oh shit,” he says as he is turning his head sill looking at the KFC, “It’s a KFC Buffet…step on the gas.”

    My smirk gets bigger. Here we go. To encourage him, I speed up a bit and ask for clarification as it has been years since I even looked sideways at a KFC since I don’t eat chicken.

    “What’s the difference between KFC Regular and KFC Buffet?”

    Pat settles back into his seat, pulls on his beard for a second and begins to launch into the story I have waited for all day.

    Before I launch into it, let me give you some background. Pat is what they call…a big guy. Born to a born again Buddhist, Pat was found to be hyperactive at a very young age…seems a boy with his spark and precarious intelligence couldn’t sit like the Buddha at age 4, 5 or 6, nor could he sit in his seat in school, so the ‘experts’ prescribed him Ritalin to calm his ass down.

    Did it work?

    Yes, it did but it did other things as well like change Pat’s metabolism and soon Pat, at a very young age, began struggling with his weight. As time went by, Pat stopped taking the Ritalin, discovered ways to behave somewhat within this modern society that is entirely too small for someone with his insight and began a lifelong battle of what some call the bulge.

    So, some may say that Pat is fat, but what I just told you gives you some insight that some of this is not of his own doing. It is also his genetics that play a role. Case in point, Pat met his half brother somewhere in his thirties. Pat picked him out of a crowd in a local bar, walked up to him and asked if so and so was his father. The guy looked at Pat like he was going to hit him and said,

    “Yeah, so what?”

    Pat’s reply was, “Dude, look at you, you look like me and my dad is so and so too.”

    His half brother is also what they call a big guy. Once they discovered they were brothers at the tender age of 40 or 41, they became fast friends and since they could both push 300 to 350 lbs from time to time, one of the things they liked to do when they were together was eat.

    This is where we can join Pat in his story,

    “So my brother and I are in some other white trash town..not sure where it was…somewhere in LA…obviously not the beach…somewhere like Reseda, the place they make all the porn.”

    “Anyway, my brother and I, go figure, get hungry and decide to go to lunch and you know how I like those KFC Bar-B-Q Chicken Bits?”

    I do know. I nod. I know Pat that well.

    “So, we stop at this KFC and as we walk in, it says KFC Buffet.”

    “Now, I have eaten at a lot of KFC’s in my time, but I had never heard of a KFC Buffet, but hey, I like myself a buffet, so yeah, we decide to go in and what we saw…”

    He makes a sound of ultimate pain.

    “Jesus, what we saw at the KFC Buffet in Reseda was beyond my belief? I mean, you know me and my brother…we’re big guys…I mean, shit, together we may weigh as much as a Ford 150.”

    My smirk becomes a smile…the punch line was coming…I shrug and wait for his delivery…

    “What?” I ask.

    “My freakin brother and I were like the skinniest people in there…I mean, these people were huge…like 500 pounds big. They were all sitting in those red booths literally licking their arms as to not miss even one drop of grease. I was afraid to try to grab anything off that damn buffet as I thought these people were going to bite my arm off in order to get just a bit more mash potatoes made from Elmer’s Paste.”

    I start to laugh as I begin to envision this in my mind…this fuels him.

    “I mean it was like the scene from Wedding Crashers when Stiller and Wilson met up with Farrell and he is so far in that he has become a Funeral Crasher…I swear, I couldn’t even finish my nuggets amongst the snorting going down in that place. I think I left there and went on some diet and dropped 30 pounds. It was absolutely disgusting…white trash exponential.”

    I am crying by now…KFC Buffet…the heart of darkness in the new world of fast food and Walmarts…the horror..the horror…Pat continues,

    “You know the dude was in the KKK?”

    “Who?”

    “The colonel.”

    “Seriously, check the internet.”

    I did. It’s true. The colonel was a lifelong members of the KKK.

    “God, the irony of that place,” Pat groans.

    “Yeah,” I chime in, “Didn’t Canyon Crest (a upper middle class neighborhood in Riverside CA) go up in arms when the neighborhood planners were going to bring in a KFC in the local strip mall? Because they thought it was going to bring in ‘the wrong kind of people’?”

    “You mean, Black people?” Pat never skips a beat.

    I nod.
    “What a bunch of idiot racists,” Pat groans, “They should have a sign on the front door of the place…this place encourages hate crime and hedonistic eating that only a 500 pound person can possibly understand.”

    We laugh and Pat offers another nugget of information.

    “Yeah, apparently, the colonel also complained after he sold the franchise that they had scrapped his gravy recipe and it now tasted like wallpaper paste.”

    True story and when he did this, the buyers of the KFC empire promptly tried to sue the colonel for libel. They lost but still few know this story…that secret recipe, in the colonel’s opinion, had turned into crap.

    Pat and I begin winding down this story and gearing for another but before I do, I say,

    “Well, one of the beauties of living in Bolivia is that the only fast food place we have is Burger King.”

    “A country free of KKK fueled super corporations that encourage overeating of GMO infused chicken parts? Shirley, you jest!”

    I nod and continue, “Yeah, Bolivia ain’t perfect, but at least we don’t have a KFC.”
    Pat nods somewhat impressed and we continue to drive down the desert road, sharing story after story and spending our afternoon where we like to spend it, making each other laugh.

    That afternoon driving down the desert highway with Pat comes back to me as soon as I arrive back in Santa Cruz Bolivia after 5 weeks away. On the first day back, I hop on my bike and begin heading downtown. This is when I see it…on the corner…that familiar old face minus his Grand Wizard hat but with that familiar bollo tie…the colonel and then I see the other sign…KFC…

    “WTF?”

    But it is worse than I can imagine…Santa Cruz’s new KFC is not a buffet; it is beyond a buffet. Built like a 1970’s movie theater or some scene in the Jetsons, Santa Cruz Bolivia’s first KFC looks like a 2 story spaceship and it is packed on both floors. Hundreds of Bolivians shove through crowds to get a taste of the Colonel’s special recipe, which appears to be to sell its slaves their own rope.

    You see, Bolivia is not like the US where I come from. It is a country that some squish under the category of developing; however, I would wager that sometimes it falls under something close to primitive. In other words, Bolivia is a country that does many things wrong…many, many, many…and one of these things is they eat like shit…meat and beer, beer and rice…it’s all carbos here; however, the odd thing is Americans are so much fatter than the average Bolivian on the street.

    Why is this?

    It certainly isn’t in the choice of their food. So, I am going to introduce another theory to the plate. Bolivians are new to this new super corporation paradigm…up until now, they have been feasting on their carnage from local companies with a few of them,..maybe, being labeled a corporation and thus, they have been paying local prices.

    However, these dynamic is changing fast in Santa Cruz, a city that doubled in size by a million in merely 10 years. It is a town where the people who are being displaced from their tiny pueblos due to changing economics come to get jobs and in the process of this, they begin the process of what some people say is becoming ‘civilized.’ They leave their horse and their cart; they leave the farm and over the years, they grow further and further away from the land. What replaces this connection with the land is a connection to the consumer paradigm….get up, go to work, look at the guy next door, try to keep up, buy a better car, better house, better color TV.

    And does this lead to a better life?

    I’m not sure as I have only lived on the hamster wheel of the consumer paradigm, which I can in fact say result in greed, greed on such a level that all you have to do is sit on anyway US corner and look around and you can see that most Americans are killing themselves by eating their false needs.

    I wish I could tell these Bolivians here this today, but I don’t speak their tongue…I just shake my head, jump back on my bike and ride back down the street being widened to welcome the many who are coming in from the countryside where thy have always been….

    And while this disease is spreading, more and more people are getting Kentucky Fried…
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