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Forgive Me For What I Must Do...
Instead of 'SICKO MODE' it should be 'ANIMAL STYLE'
What is the most annoying possible thing I could write about this week?
That’s what rolls through my head like ticker tape, week after week, as I sit down at my Hobonichi Techo journal (I only transcribe from handwritten full sentences, with no grammatical errors, to Substack’s word-processing platform to preserve the integrity of my sacred thoughts).
Maybe this week I’ll venture into the worlds of polyamory or e-sports—or a jaunt through the wonders of auto-fiction discourse? Ooh! Ohhoh! “Pick me!” says a thought bubble containing only the words “Tfw your immigrant parent cuts you a bowl of fruit as a love language…” Or what if I set off a veritable bomb (linguistic, of course) and wrote about my journey as one of those people (cilantro tastes like soap)?
And then, it hits me. The rush, the ecstasy, the overwhelming emotion. A plume of white smoke has risen out of my ass. It has been chosen; the Goblet of Fire is sacred. I need to vent about In-N-Out.
I was reading a book review yesterday that contained this line: “Stroll into a dinner party and spit out the word Israel and watch as opinions are disgorged in furious real time.” Watch how hard your fucking head is going to spin: replace that with In-N-Out. Now we’re cooking with gas! (To clear things up before this goes viral, I am presently stating my allegiance to In-N-Out, and NOT Israel.)
You can absolutely ruin a dinner party by talking about Israel, and you can ruin it even further, pissing on the ashes of what was supposed to be a nice Korean BBQ hangout with your friends from college, by saying you’re from California and you love In-N-Out. Watch as the wretched, vile Others yell at you about the word “overrated,” or how Californians are deluded into needing something to call their own, or how Five Guys is better, or how “the fries taste like cardboard, bro,” and “why the fuck is there a secret menu?” And then your sweet, innocent soul is tricked into defending In-N-Out, the sordid pleasures of Animal Style and a cloyingly perfect strawberry milkshake, and of course now they’ve got you where they wanted you in the first place. It’s a never-ending dance, a no-win conundrum—a pre-determined argument we all know the script to but can’t seem to find a new take on.
This is how most of the take economy goes, but opinions on food are the ones that somehow generate the most murderous rage. People want to feel like they have ownership over something, and are passionate and have Taken a Stance, so telling someone they wish Polio had claimed their child because they don’t like tuna melts is a way to take charge of your intellectual life, I guess. But we must all agree to the rules of engagement, in that we all sound like fucking idiots.
Talking about In-N-Out is stupid, arguing about it is even dumber, and the most moronic thing you can do is dislike it.
I could tell you something like, “You don’t get it. It’s not just a burger chain—it’s a cultural touchstone. It’s California’s answer to the intellectual salon. A gathering place for the great thinkers of our day (high schoolers with driver’s licenses), a place to be past midnight. A port in a storm, a bright, inviting lighthouse for the weary sailor (group of Asian kids who just saw Get Smart). It’s a dying breed in this godforsaken country: a place where you can walk in with five dollars in your Nike basketball shorts pocket, purchase a delicious, satisfying meal, and mooch off your friend’s Animal Style fries while every single person you have ever known somehow walks through the door and looks slightly embarrassed to see someone they know, especially if they’re with their parents, because now they might have to wave or say something, but you really don’t want to do that when you’re just picking up a few burgers with your parents.” I could say something like that. But I won’t because everyone would laugh at me and roast me online.
I will, however, point out the crucial thing most people miss: In-N-Out is one of the world’s great deals. It rules. Big juicy American cheeseburger two dollars fifty cents. The quality to price ratio is off the charts, and don’t even get me started on Price : Vibes. You can say whatever you want about the fries and I don’t care; it’s cool for people from out of state to vehemently clown on the fries as an excuse for a personality. But the Fries are Vibes.
And the actual reason I’m pissed (truly do not know what this newsletter has become at this point) is that I keep seeing undeserving people with In-N-Out t-shirts on the street these days. People who have the look of someone who probably once said, “I truly do not get what the hype is around In-N-Out,” but have now co-opted its merch because the t-shirt is a great fit. Because I guess that’s cool now, and wasn’t cool six or seven years ago when it would have been advantageous for me personally.
Unfortunately now I’ve put myself in a vulnerable position. I’ve done the most annoying two things possible—1) talked about In-N-Out and 2) took a side—which leaves me wide open for the worst of our subscribers to come attack my bitch ass. I eagerly await a snarky comment from beloved friend and noted Anglophile David Freling, or the deluge of responses from vile non-Californians in our email list. But below is the laziest and meanest and most offensive (racist?) thing you can do to one of your closest friends:
I wish it weren’t like this, but he has forced my hand: Jesse is no longer a member of the Low Lift Ask community. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I know this is a difficult time, and we will get through this, but my decision is final.
One time Nabeel told us that quiche and poké bowls live in the same place in his mind. What the heck is this guy on…. and can I get some of it????? PLEASE I NEED SOME OF WHATEVER HE’S ON…. [voice of a Jonesing guy] please give me some of what he’s on. I’m jonesing for whatever Nabeel is on.