Still unemployed, I decided to go spend my non-existent income at the mall. While riding the escalator, I was suddenly thrown back to one of my most embarrassing high school moments. Hold on to your butts, this is going to get scary…As soon to be “juniors,” there was only one place for Ben and me to go on a hot summer afternoon: the mall. 16 and licensed, Ben navigated his four wheeled symbol of freedom into the overcrowded parking lot only to find the last open spot roughly 3.2 miles from the entrance. The mall was as crowded as a Sunday morning buffet next to a retirement home. Why we were there escapes my memory. When I think back to that day, the sweet smell of thousands of sweaty mall-goers retreating from the early July heat quickly returns to my mind. Dodging in and out of the endless display of tube tops and spaghetti straps, we stopped for a quick sample from Sees and made our way to paradise: the food court. The only thing that rested on the minds of the turbulent sea of high school adolescents and their insignificant middle school counter parts was the quest to find somebody that would validate their existence. Their probing gaze searched the crowd for that someone that was not up to their standards. When found, the awkward pile of hormones and second hand clothes would become the topic of conversation until someone else was spotted that was more worthy of their attention. Oblivious to the danger that lurked ahead, I made my way to the towering escalator that would shortly deliver me to my acceptance, or my doom, along with freedom from the oppressing hunger that has since become an old friend. As the escalator moaned under the weight of its passengers, we slowly reached our destination. One by one the metal stairs in front of me disappeared to return and retrieve another load. As I made my way off of the escalator, the action of the stair being sucked under the metal guard slowly pulled the front of my sandal in with it. Trying to avoid the impending social assassination, I used all my strength to rip my sandal away from the metal that was so forcefully trying to ruin my life. Suddenly, my sandal was freed from its satanic captor but not without a large chunk of foam becoming lodged in the escalator. No sooner than I had been released, the escalator came to an abrupt halt throwing everyone forward. As they regained their balance, a small army of people all turned their attention to what had caused such a tragic accident. There I was, a short, chubby, insecure boy trapped between those that wanted to kill me for making them walk up an escalator, and those that would feed off my embarrassment like Stephanie Meyers off fresh blood. I did the only thing a boy in my situation could do; I stared at the floor and moved my stocky little legs to Panda Express where I would throw on an extra side of orange chicken to drown my sorrows.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I find cooking relaxing and eating, an addiction. When I sit in front of the TV, I always go straight for the Food Channel before I see what else is on. My heroes include Ina Garten, Paula Deen, and Tyler Florence. My celebrity crush is on an Italian woman that gets paid to make cannolis in front of a camera. I need to go on a diet.
I have often enjoyed a show called Diners, Drive ins, and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri. He goes from city to city eating at popular and dirty little restaurants. Being so concerned about my health, I compiled a list of the names and addresses of each restaurant featured from Portland and Salt Lake City. Yes, I do intend to try all of them.
The first stop was Moochie's on 800 south in Salt Lake. It was featured for its obscenely large meatball sandwich, but I was advised to stick with the cheese steak. I have been trying to go for a long time, but I just barely got up to Salt Lake a little over a week ago. I don't even know where to start. I could talk about the juicy, paper thin slices of steak. I could mention the perfectly grilled peppers and onions that left their sweet smell on my fingers for days. I could even bring up the layers of cheese that melted down into each crack bringing everything together into one delicious sandwich. These things were great, but what will get me back to Moochie's is the homemade jalapeno sauce.
Oh, what a combination of flavors. The subtle sting of the jalapenos encased in a delicious cream sauce. I could not stop pouring until there was a steady flow leaving the end of my sandwich and I knew it was completely saturated. I was in a dream world until I was abruptly awakened by the lack of sandwich in my hands. What could possibly be in such a sweet nectar? Crack-Cocaine? Caffeine? Some other habit forming substance? Other than the minuscule bits of jalapeno, I'll never know.
Somewhere in Spanish Fork, perched atop the ugly brown foothills we all associate with Utah Valley, is a large white Krishna temple. I am surprised to see even Baptist churches in such a Mormon setting. A fully functioning Lotus Temple quickly raises suspicion. Each year, the Lotus Temple hosts Holi Fest, or the Festival of Colors. It's hard to miss the thousands of people that post seemingly identical profile pictures on Facebook. This year, I gave into peer pressure.
When I crested the hill concealing the thousands of people dancing to the hypnotic words of a Hare Krishna song, I immediately thought of every scripture story condemning pagan rituals and dove into the crowd. Between the two sons of my stake president and my two gay friends, I figured things were pretty balanced. Weaving through the crowd as people pelted me with sweet smelling colored powders, I remembered something my friend had said about the perfect place for a terrorist attack. These thoughts were quickly drowned out by the ceaseless chanting of "Hare Krishna!" They spoke to us about love and peace all while halfheartedly attempting to get a path cleared for a young man who needed to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. I don't know if he ever made it because they soon put on an Indian version of Toddlers in Tiaras. I was still contemplating whether or not those little girls really wanted to be dancing for thousands of colorful sweaty Mormons when they started the countdown. Remember, I was already covered in a thick layer of color when this countdown started. When they got to 1, I witnessed the apocalypse. Everyone let loose with their hidden reserves of colors and we were encased in a cloud so dense that it completely blocked out the sun for almost a minute.
By the time I could breathe, make it out of the crowd, and find my friends I had decided that once was enough. I got home and saw all of Facebook with new profile pictures vowing they would return to Little New Delhi the following year to be blasted with more colors. Since I will still be cleaning pink out of my ears at that time, I'll have a daily Q-tip reminder that is more than enough for me.