Ideas Bouncing Around

This falls squarely in the “thinking out loud” file, just me trying to make sense of an idea and seeing where it winds up.

As I said yesterday, I spent quite a few years working in kitchens: McDonalds, Little Caeser’s, The Argosy Casino. Each one of these bastards was full of entertaining folks and experiences. There was the guy at McDonalds (can’t remember his name) who stabbed a guy in the hand and was simply told he couldn’t use knives in the kitchen anymore. There was Laura at Little Caesers, who slept with every cook who was single. I wasn’t one of those cooks until about a year later, once she had left. I consider giving my friend a free pizza in exchange for *censored* to be a petty form of revenge.

And then there was Argosy.

Where to start? There was Jim, the manager who went through waitresses like used tissue, eventually convincing one of them to have a threesome with him and his wife. There was Tree; 6’5″, well over 200 pounds, and jovial as a man on helium. His first words to me were “Hey, do you like anal sex?” There was Scott, who always kept a jar of moonshine in the cooler and string to stitch up the rest of us.

Rich and interesting people.

I tried to incorporate some of my Argosy experience into a screenplay I wrote called Doc’s, but the whole thing ended up reading like Empire Records with food, so it’s just been sitting on my hard drive for three years. I’ve taken it out and polished it once or twice, but nothing ever really stuck.

I still wanted to do a kitchen story, though. Something funny and wicked, maybe with a little love story thrown in for good measure, but mostly about this strange assemblage of people and their love of food. Then I heard Kitchen Confidential was hitting the airwaves, and I quickly decided the time was gone.

Until the other night.

The other night, I went to Arby’s. I hadn’t been to one for years, and I had grown up on the stuff, so I was feeling nostalgic. I drove to the Arby’s near my house, the one that was set to close in an hour or so.

Wow.

It was deserted when I showed up, but by the time I was done ordering, there were ten people in line behind me. And they all looked the same! Longish hair, heavyish build sad eyes, sweaty. There was something about the strange quality of these people that struck me. They didn’t seem to belong anywhere else. They hadn’t come to Arby’s together. They had just found each other. And I, wearing a tropical shirt and Chuck Taylor’s, belonged with them in some odd way, an outcast looking for some nighttime grub.

BOOM!

A restaurant where nobody belongs. Where the losers go to eat. The staff there is weird, maybe frightening. It’s this strange little hole in the universe. Kitchen Confidential meets The Twilight Zone meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

And we’re off…