1995, 1996, Los Angeles. Nicky G and I hang out at the bars the Lava Lounge, the Room. After closing, we take his Rabbit or my Cherokee back to our respective homes in Los Feliz, Silverlake, usually taking Sunset, and right there, on the corner of Cahuenga, is a Jack in the Box. We're hungry, it's drive-thru, why not? And so the eggrolls with the sweet orange dipping sauce become a ritual, they are what you want after a few drinks, crunchy and hot, salty and sweet, cheap and available. We eat them in the car, grease on our chins and fingers, good ballast before going to sleep.
2012, Portland. Heading east to Costco, past the airport. Very hungry, and there on the corner, right on the way, is a Jack in the Box. Haven't been in more than a decade. Why not get some eggrolls, for old time's sake? Dredging up good memories, I pull in, order, get back on the road. I open the eggroll box. They don't look as I recall, all plump and deep-fry blistered. What the heck. Pull the tab on the orange sauce, dip in the eggroll... how to describe the taste? How about, dead turtle in the sun? The sauce is so sweet and metalic it makes my eye squinch. I can taste the fillings in my teeth. Have to get these things out of the car, now. Try to mash the whole box into the little car trash recepticle, manage instead to squeeze eggroll down my arm, the car smells of swamp, vaguely fecal, and that strand hanging from my arm, what is it?
Is it possible, I wonder, that this is what they have always tasted like? Oh, demon rum, what have we done?