It wasn’t always the Boston Market by my EX-girlfriend’s house, by the way. It was the one we’d go to together when we were stoned and in between episodes of SVU back when we started dating, in the gargoyleish dead of winter, back when she snuck me up to her bedroom in the middle of the night on Fridays and I’d spend the whole weekend up there getting high, and she’d spend the whole weekend teaching me how to make her cum. She turned me into something programmed to dig in her and touch something real. And we’d fuck and fuck and fuck. Sometimes we’d both take my Ambien and fuck, and then she’d fall asleep and I’d will myself awake with loud music in my headphones and the dull Instagram Reels scroll of basketball highlights and fight videos and supercuts of Ariana Grande’s revolving door of looks over the years. I’d break through the wall of sleep coming down on me and stay awake until I was fully in the realm of the untethered.
Ellie would rest heavy, her wine-stained teeth blowing SoundCloud whistle snippets out with her heavy dream snores, meanwhile I’d be watching the bookshelf shake hands with the doorjamb in the dark, witnessing the books dancing around like little Pixar death helpers through the plum-shaded simmer of my unrest. Nothing was still, all was transient and alive and supremely sexy and welcoming.
Eventually, after a half-dozen brutally unfunny tweets and a garbled voicemail to my long-dead grandma’s phone number, I’d sleep, supposedly, and when I rose each time, I got stoned and I wanted one thing.
“Baby,” I’d say, licking my dry lips and pulling on my boots to move through the powdered sugar snow on the walk. “Let’s go.”
She’d bundle up and come with me, because she loved me, yes, but mostly she also knew it was time to roll down the street and indulge, because we both loved the same thing on a pure, elemental level, a thing we’d deliver like an eleventh commandment to the hoarse crackling voice behind the speaker at the drive-thru:
Can we get a half-chicken white meat order of the Rotisserie chicken with garlic and herbs, and then some mashed potatoes with gravy, the steamed vegetables, mac and cheese, the cornbread, fuckin cobbler please, a large Diet Coke and a large lemonade???
Never mattered who ordered. Dylan and Keisha—the stoned community college kids who prepared the sacred rations—always knew it was us.
“Elijah?” Dylan would ask. “Back again?”
We’d laugh, because they knew.
We always got the same thing, hollering out our need like yuletide carolers from the open window of my filthy car, idling at a drive-thru that was always devoid of fellow revelers. Our order was consistent and brilliant, a perfect meld of all the things you need to live with joy and balance, sung like the songs of blind bards of centuries past. Homer sang of war, Milton sang the Fall, and I sing loud and true when you ask me what I want from America’s favorite rotisserie-based eatery. The place that serves the food that replaced my lithium.
We’d take it and slide the brief slide around the corner, duck her drunk-ass Dad, run it upstairs, and lay naked beneath the bay window, sucking chicken from bones and slurping gravy by the gallon, bathed in the cold white light of January midday, nothing to do but hide and fatten each other. We’d eat until we were too full of cheese and potatoes and hefty juices to have sex, but then we would anyways, and we’d have to turn up the episode of SVU loud enough after to drown out the “Dueling Banjos”-type riffing going on between our roaring stomachs full of food tossing around like a little dryer load of clothes set on “high.” And we’d always nap, her yellow hair spread out on my face and smelling of peaches and mint, her nails painted clear and glossy, my pills tucked away in my pants across the floor, untouched when I was with her. She was the only thing that soothed me in this world. Well, her and that fucking garlic sauce-bath I took every time I came around her home and feasted at our castle.
Unfortunately, I did not soothe her.
Pandemics end, or at least lockdowns do. Vaccines and other people and the contexts that come with people’s real lives reached forward as one and pulled the cornbread blanket off us and cast us out of our own little processed garden of innocence. All that’s a nice way of saying what’s true: she got sick of me and dumped me after her first vaccine shot. She was my tour guide through a quiet world, and she left me gracefully at the exit.
I shouldn’t blame her for taking a look around and realizing there were now men available who didn’t live on Ambien and rotisserie chicken, but I do.
I blame her.
And so I sit here, scribbling in my ugly hand, eating our meal, but for one instead of two. My stomach is full-grown and loud; my G.I. tract is obtuse, ablaze. My review is simple:
The Barrington, CT Boston Market offers the creamy richness of all Boston Market feeding centers. It is a place where romance grows, and when it dies, it has glorious indoor seating up against big, tall windows where you can watch her life go on. Well, at least in my case. I sit before one now, slaking my thirst with lemonade that should be hers, looking beyond the parking lot through the sun-scorched birches of time gone. I can see just the corner of her home from my seat, but the corner is all I need, as it has her window. I hoist a forkful of the chicken to my mouth and hold it there, savoring the loud garlic smells as they race to me, fall inside my emptiness, and I see the window rise. I stop entirely. She’s letting out the heat of the afternoon’s August brutality. I swear I see her golden curl drip flaring out beyond the windowpane, but it might be nothing, just the shimmer of heat throwing me.
It’s probably tricks of the mind. I get inventive in the bloodshot rain of my stare. I must admit, I do this every day.
So, the food is wonderful here. Marvelous. Like home, but better than home, since my mom could never make any of this shit half as well as Dylan and Keisha. Keisha is here alone today, but I know Dylan is here in spirit. I love them. I watch the now-still house from my seat.
My stomach rumbles, and I look to the bathroom. It is out of order. That is okay. I am not staying. I am going, but not far. I leave my car in the lot and I walk, my sweat smelling like gravy, carrying the rest of my meal to its rightful owner.
No one answers the door. It is so hot and I ate recklessly, again. I get sick on the lawn. I am sitting here. I am waiting for something. I feel like shitting my pants. I refrain. When she comes out, a guy is with her. It is Dylan. Our Dylan from BM. He is using the front door I was never allowed to touch. My mortification is immediate and permanent. I vomit a bit again, but in my mouth. I pretend I don’t see her, at first, like I’m just a wanderer who paused to sit a spell and gnaw on a drumstick on her front lawn.
Anyways, this place is the shit. Get the Prime Rib on Wednesdays, the Rotisserie Chicken with Garlic the other six. Just get ready to eat it alone when you need someone to split your complimentary cornbread with the most.
Atmosphere: 10/10 if you want to monitor the goings-on at your whore ex-girlfriend’s house, 6/10 if you’re just eating here.
Service: 5/10. I love Keisha. Fuck Dylan.