Burrito | David Barish

I had a deposition near the corner of Ashland/Milwaukee and Division. Anybody who has been there knows that when you open the car door you are greeted by the essence of La Pasadita, a treasured taqueria. Like the characters from a Warner Brothers cartoon, you are lifted off your feet and carried to its source.
 I had not waited to be summoned: I knew I would be in the neighborhood, and planned to pick up a Burrito de Asada to bring back to my office for a mid-day delight.
 The burrito was safely wrapped in foil and wax paper, and folded into a paper bag with a little container of salsa. It sat on the passenger seat while I navigated towards the Loop. I was listening to a talk radio program when I heard it: You know I’m just going to get cold. Did you want me cold or did you want me hot?

I looked over at the passenger seat. There sat my burrito. I was otherwise alone. I looked at the radio. I turned the radio off to make sure I wasn’t hearing a new voice on the program. I looked in the rear view mirror, just in case.

What? Are you going to try to eat your radio? Don’t you think I taste a helluva a lot better than a radio? Oh, go right ahead and give it a try. Meanwhile, me and my meaty, steaky goodness will just sit here and get cold. I’ll go from hot and tasty to cold and forbidding. Your choice, pal.

I was stunned. I figured a burrito would speak Spanish, and perhaps have a cheesy accent. “Porque no me hablas en espanol y usas Inglés?” I queried. Ignoring my question, it kept after me in English.

Yeah, I’m talking to you pal. Are you hungry?

I nodded.

Did you want a delicious La Pasadita steak burrito?

I nodded.

Did you pull yer pennies outta yer pocket to purchase one?

I nodded.

Did you buy a burrito so you could bring it back to your office as a paperweight?

I shook my head no.

Well, what the fuck am I sitting here for? Bite me, big boy. Do it now. Pick me up and take a bite.

Now, I have eaten a few things in cars before. Our family has a tradition of eating the French fries on the way back from our local hot dog joint. This was passed down to me from my dad, and from me to my daughters. We reveled in the sneak preview, tasting those fries before they got home, before they started to cool, before they had to be shared with mom. I have traveled across the magnificent miles of Illinois: spending so many hours in the car to get to Rockford or Effingham or wherever I multitask, eating on the go.  I know that a McPuck can be held and consumed with one hand while safely driving, and with minimal risk of collateral damage to the suit and tie you may need to appear fresh when you walk into a courtroom in some downstate burgh. I knew that trying to eat a burrito, especially when wearing a white shirt and khaki pants, was hubris. I might as well try eating a bowl of soup while driving.

Still, the burrito was relentless.

You are one frickin’ mope. You sit there craving me. (He was right about that) and you’re going to bring a cold burrito to your office so you can tell everybody how delicious and how cold I was. You will tell them how good I would have been if you had the brains to eat me when you were supposed to. You know you want me. So bite me pal. That’s right, I said bite me. C’mon, what kind of loser are you? You/re going to sit and let a perfectly hot and tasty burrito get cold and grungy. You don’t deserve a La Pasadita Steak Burrito. Wait, you weren’t going to put me in the microwave were you? Were you going to treat me like a Lean Cuisine that you fished out of your freezer because you were too lame to go to La Pasadita?

I was starting to get a little annoyed with my lunch. I really wanted it to shut up. I picked up the bag with one hand, slid out the burrito, folded back the wrapping, and angrily took a bite. Heavenly…and silent. Emboldened by the fact that I had bit into a delicious burrito, shut the damn thing up, and didn’t spill anything, I took another bite. I folded back the paper, and lay it down.

I was just thinking to myself, it’s about damn time, and then all of a sudden you stopped. You get me all worked up and now you just lay me down? Bro, you’re giving me blue balls? You are a fucking burrito tease. Now pick me up and take a bite like you mean it, unless you just aren’t man enough for me.

I hated that burrito. I loved that burrito. At a stoplight, I opened the salsa, poured some on the burrito, and took a few more bites. I made a motion as if to put it down, but before it could speak again I bit again and I bit hard. I did not want to hear the abuse.

The palette that had been wrapped in a tortilla was now brushed on the driver. Light green lettuce, darker green cilantro, red tomatoes, brown beans, pink and black asada with ecru bits of cheese – I was now the canvas. I ignored the increasing trail of debris on the seat, on my khakis, on my now-paisley shirt. I devoured. I silenced. How I did this without getting into an accident remains a mystery.

Then it was over. The detritus from my frenzied feast swirled around me. I was breathless, a sweaty, smelly repository of refried beans. I sat in a post-coital salsa of shame. I was guilty, dirty, and could still hear that voice telling me I would do it again. I sighed.

Yeah, I would, even though I looked like I had been in a knife fight, lost, and needed to be taken to an emergency room, perhaps a surgical consultation. Certainly a new wardrobe. The interior of my car was also going to need a miracle.

I walked into the building without making eye contact, and went right to my office. I could sense eyes following me, and could hear the muted voices that seemed concerned at first, then amused. I did not look up. I did not acknowledge. I went straight to my office and I closed the door. I tried to work while continuing to see, smell, and taste my tormenter the rest of the afternoon.

The end of the day came. I’m going to need something for dinner, I thought, I could stop at La Pasadita on the way. I was pretty sure the burrito would never make it home.

David Barish has been telling stories since the day his mother came home, looked around  and asked, “What happened here?”  Since then he has abandoned fiction and has been writing and telling personal narratives on stages around the City of Chicago.
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