As a millennial anarchist, I find a kind of antithetical pleasure in supporting corporate America. What is it about the going back and forth between Bed, Bath and Beyond to Cheesecake Factory to DSW that feels so natural in an almost addictive way? It makes me feel like I have a purpose. It’s a stupid purpose, a transitory purpose, but a purpose nonetheless. It’s a selfish purpose, a game of reverse psychology I play with myself. If I’m distracted with shitty home décor and how many calories are in Red Lobster cheddar biscuits, I can forget about the pervasive nature of death.
This is how I end up at the bar of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, at 5pm on a Monday. My friend and I scanned the menu full of $15 cocktails including “Lady Liberty Cosmo” and “South Beach Mojito” before ordering two shots of Jameson. We followed the shots with two glasses of coke that were diligently mixed with airplane bottles of vodka from my purse.
I prayed that a tinder date would sit at the bar. I prayed that they would turn the sound on the television in front of me airing “Guy’s Grocery Games.” But more than anything, I prayed that someone would get engaged. I think that the purest and truest expression of love would endure watching your partner drown in chili cheese fries. And I don’t mean figuratively drowning, getting chili smear on your face before a gassy drive home. I mean that if Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar flooded with chili cheese fries, you would really have to be in love to swim through the surge.
In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker writes “modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awareness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing.” The ability to want what you already have is kind of everything. To be enraptured in your own life and human connections is to escape the necessity for fulfillment through a Lady Liberty Cosmo. But the urgency of fulfillment through Guy Fieri creates a distraction from mortality. The answer to the great question of life does not lie at Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar. I know this. And yet, because I doubt there is an “answer” to the paradox of the human condition, I go to Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar.