January 12, as I’m sure you remember, was my lawyer/friend Dave-o’s birthday, and in case you’re wondering, I didn’t end up getting him a leather attaché case. What if it rains? Exactly.
Aside from my romantic exploits south of the equator (I am talking about the actual equator, but I’m also talking about sex), I’m not the type to brag, but you should’ve seen the look on Dave-o’s face when I told him he’d be spending his birthday week with me in Ocala, Florida.
He winced. Then he looked like he had to go to the bathroom. Then I ended my dramatic pause and said, “With front-row seats to the celebrity trial of the month! That’s right — Wesley Snipes’s tax protest trial!”
Now who has to go to the bathroom, Dave-o? Actually, I do. Back in a second …
Okay, so as I was saying, my birthday gift to Dave-o was a some-expenses-paid trip to north central Florida for the first leg of actor Wesley Snipes’s trial. I’ll explain the details of the trial next time — yes, it’s a two-parter! — for those who aren’t in the know, but the good news for Snipes is that he was acquitted last Friday on felony counts of tax fraud and conspiracy. The bad news is that he was found guilty on three out of six misdemeanor charges for not filing tax returns on $38 million of income from 1999 to 2004. The Associated Press reported on January 28 that “Snipes’ attorneys said he was the victim of unscrupulous accountants and sincerely believed he didn’t have to pay taxes.”
I believe Snipes was sincere. At least from 2001 to 2004. After all, those were Bush years, and our president has fought a long battle to ensure that (1) rich people stay rich and (2) the cybertronic Saddam Hussein clones who crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, are eventually brought to justice.
But Wesley, you had no right to not pay your taxes in 1999 and 2000. Those were Clinton years. Bill Clinton loves black people, and black people love him. Why did you take advantage of that love? Do you think you’ll be able to pull this kind of crap if Hillary wins in November? She remembers, Wesley. You’d better start donating to John McCain’s campaign fund ASAP.
On our drive down to Ocala, Dave-o and I stopped at one of my favorite southern fast-food chains: Krystal. If you’re from the north, you’ve probably had White Castle’s little square hamburgers, or “sliders,” at one time or another. Well, Krystal is the southern equivalent of White Castle. (It’s also “the second-oldest hamburger chain in the United States,” according to Wikipedia; only White Castle is older.) I grew up eating Krystal hamburgers and fries in Georgia, and though I’ve only had White Castle once, more than four years ago, I can say without hyperbole that Krystal is 1,000 percent better.
For one thing, I don’t think Krystal’s burgers have ever been used as laxatives in police interrogations. Plus White Castle burgers don’t have what my southern friend Jason likes to call “dog drool”: the unidentified moist substance that flows down the sides of a Krystal’s bun. Krystal lovers use that term with affection, of course, the same way Democrats often refer to Dick Cheney as “concentrated evil.”
When Dave-o and I sat down at a Krystal in Cordele, Georgia, on his birthday to eat supper, we noticed a haiku on the side of his large Diet Coke:
A warm steamy bun
So tender and delicious
A tasty pickle
—Holly, Perry, GA
Is that classy or what? Try and sponsor a used-napkin origami contest, White Castle. It won’t even come close to Krystal lovers’ free-flowing poetry.
White Castle’s TV ads, at least when I first moved to Chicago in 2003, were aimed squarely at stoners: a white guy would be sitting on a couch, usually with a demographically appropriate black friend, staring into space. You were supposed to think, “Oh, they’re watching TV and they’re bored,” but c’mon — clearly they’re high! That’s why they want White Castle. (The stoner comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle came out a year later. The sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, comes out this spring.)
Similarly, many of my friends in college thought of Krystals as food that tastes good only when you’re drunk. Because they were my friends, I forgave them for their ignorance, but I prayed that they would either see the light or choke on a Big Mac.
On Sunday, January 13, as Dave-o and I entered Florida the day before Snipes’s trial was set to begin, I persuaded him to try another piece of essential southern cuisine: Chick-fil-A. I could almost taste the waffle fries as we pulled into the parking lot.
The empty parking lot.
Empty because Chick-fil-A isn’t open on Sundays. Empty because Chick-fil-A was founded by a man named Truett Cathy, who decided when he opened the first Chick-fil-A back in 1946 that “all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so,” according to the company’s FAQ on its website. Fair enough, Mr. Cathy, but how come I crave your Christian empire’s chicken sandwiches and waffle fries on Sunday more than any other day, and how come I always forget Chick-fil-A is closed on that particular day?
Perhaps God is temporarily blocking my memory as a way of punishing me for my sins, gluttonous or equatorial or otherwise. And if it’s a sin to feel comforted by sacri-licious fast food rather than scripture, then I am guilty, but I am sincere in my guilt, just as Wesley Snipes is sincere in his belief that in this world nothing is certain but death and Blade residuals.