Nightlife: Taco Bell

I write a weekly column for Currents of the Star News. This is an oldy but a goody. You can check them all out by searching Good Evening at http://www.starnewsonline.com.

It happens at the strangest times. You could be sitting on the couch hitting the sticks at midnight, or riding home from a late night at one, or settling comfortably in your bed at two, and the urge crawls on top of you like one of those finger-monsters from Aliens. You know, the ones that latch onto your face and stick that alien baby into you? That is what late night hunger is. It’s an Alien and you can’t ignore it. You can’t escape it. It will be appeased! My best friend, Mike, had an attack like that. We were lingering at a bar when he clasped my arm with the force of Samson, pulling me close to him with his eyes wide. He had a need that I’ve never seen in another man.

“I’m hungry!” he said to me.
‘Dude,” I said. “You’re hurting my arm.”
“I got to eat!” he said again. And I knew we would have to travel. He is smaller than me. He lacks my well-earned and vaguely accepted beer gut. The general rule is that the smaller you are, the more you can’t wait to consume junk food. He needed it inside his stomach now! His death was eminent!

“We can go to Slice?” I said, but he sort of shrugged his shoulders. Slice of Life is a wonderful pizza joint, but sometimes you need something more, something different, something pre-processed. And as we sat, trying to figure out where to satisfy ourselves, I came to the realization that no one will ever go hungry in this town after one o’clock in the morning.

Downtown at night, you have Tropix and Slice of Life. Tropix has, I’ve been told, a mean philly cheese sandwich. It’s so mean it will smack you and take your girlfriend. And Slice of Life is always a reliable favorite for me, except on weekends when you basically have to make a back-alley deal or sale a liver to get a pie.

Pushing past Downtown’s borders, you come across a very unique and exciting warfare that few speak of, but all recognize. Taco Bell versus McDonald’s! Oh, such a difficult choice! In this corner, you have Taco Bell, with its pseudo-Mexican food created in some strange Willy Wooka-type factory. In this corner, you have McDonald’s, tried and true, but on the somewhat boring side. Is it me, or did McDonald’s have this illustrious illusion to it when you were a kid? I thought when my mother took me to Mikey-D’s (Its highly regarded street name), I was going on a religious retreat. Now I feel like I’ve gone to the greasy bottom of the fast food barrel. But at two in the am, you can’t be that picky. A run down of what I get from both places. At McDonald’s I get a Big Mac (560 calories), Fries (610), and a Nestle Crunch Mcflurry (920). At Taco Bell I get two Taco Supremes (220 each), a large coke (350) and Nacho Supremes (460). I only need about 2000 calories to survive per day, and I get almost double that at both places. And, thus, the little baby belly that resides on top of my guts. Eating late at night like this can’t be healthy. Or can it? While most people think that its unhealthy to eat right before you hit the sack, most dietitians will tell you that its how many calories you take in, not when you take them in, that matter. I read it on WebMD, so it has to be true. Still, me eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and then post video-game dinner can not be a good thing. And, am I really eating because I’m hungry, or is there another reason?

That night with Mike, we finally settled on a spot that every person who calls him or herself a Wilmingtionain could agree on: Jimbo’s, King of the Late night munch fest. The waitresses are friendly but don’t chit-chat. The food is so, so good and they don’t take credit or debit. I have a soft spot for anyplace that rejects common technological advances. We sat there, our bellies full of French toast and pig and scrabbled eggs and biscuits and it was quiet. There were no cars on the road. No one was calling our phones. We had no place to go. That is the true power of the night. In a world where you have to be someplace constantly, where people are making plans for you before you even get a chance to get out of bed, its comforting to know that there are places open and willing to feed us late at night, to give us that base and animal satisfaction of putting something tasty and rich in our mouths. If you go to Jimbo’s, get the pancakes. Trust me.

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