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Monday, September 08, 2008  

Taco Night

I never loved tacos all that much growing up. They were messy, you had to hold your head at a weird angle, and whenever we had them it meant fewer taco shells in the pantry for me the next time I got snacky. Indeed, there's never really been a time in my life when I've sought them out. Except for a few years there.

During our last few years of college, the gang used to hang out on Thursday nights at a place near the U of M's West Bank campus. The pints were cheap (free, if you had one of those wooden nickels they used to give out whenever the Vikings scored a touchdown), there was popcorn and darts and pinball and endless indie rock on the satellite radio, and there were nights when literally everybody knew my name. And not just because I was so drunk I kept screaming it at everyone.

So why Thursdays? Thursday was taco night.

The first time Feb invited us, I honestly wasn't too pumped at the idea. Like I said, I don't like tacos that much. But they were three for a dollar, and we were in college (okay, we were in night classes and earning the national median at our day jobs, but a bargain's a bargain).

But these tacos were okay, I thought, for 33 cents each. They weren't anyone's idea of authentic -- one of the more ethnic of our number insisted on calling them "tack-os" -- but they were a good base for the glasses of Leinenkugel I would slam down in between hanging out with actors and sucking at darts. You could order them with or without cheese, and if you wanted sour cream it came in a little paper tetrahedron that you'd use to squeeze it on for yourself.

There were other specials during the week. Monday was hamburger night, and Tuesday was sloppy joe night. As far as I know, I was the only one of us who ever ordered all three (though not on the same week), and I was commended for my courage. Since it's a near certainty that the very same ground beef that didn't get eaten in the hamburgers on Monday or the sloppy joes on Tuesday ended up in the tack-os on Thursday, I was never clear on why Iwas the brave one.

One Thursday we got there earlier than usual -- I'm talking seven or eight as opposed to the usual ten or eleven -- and the tacos they brought us that night were nothing short of spectacular. It was a revelation, as I realized that taco meat is not necessarily benefited by four hours of simmering in a pan. And this was before putting in an extra few hours of drinking.

We didn't make it that early very many times; although I would always want to chase that elusive early taco, more often than not we were lucky to get tacos at all by the time we arrived. Still, we went every week, with more regularity than most people go to church. And the spiritual payoff was nearly as great, as every Friday I would wake up saying, "Oh, God…"

But of course the tacos weren't the point. The tacos were just a focal point to get everyone in this giant extended family into one room for a week. I'd missed out on making a bunch of close college friends on my first run-through, but this more than made up for it. Kurt Vonnegut writes about "kurass" in Cat's Cradle, where a "kurass" is a group of seemingly random individuals whose fates are nonetheless intertwined. Call us the kurass of '98.

And now those days are gone entirely. The old college local has ill-advisedly attempted to go upscale, and our ridiculously attractive clique is scattered around time zones and continents, many currently working on the next generation. Instead of taco night we have Facebook. And I've lost all interest in tacos out of that context. Give me a burrito or a chimichanga any time.

But I have to tell you, Trash put together a batch of taco meat this week in hopes of finding a third food that M. Edium will eat, and for me it was like a Proustian madeleine in a tortilla when I bit into that thing. M. Edium wasn't too interested in them, not having the associations I do as a result of his birth parents being in middle school when Trash and I were in our taco night heyday, but I was astounded at what Trash had pulled off. This wasn't just a college bar tack-o -- it was an early taco. Bliss.

Tonight I finished off the leftovers, and I can't tell you how much I'm jonesing for popcorn and darts right now. I planned to have only three tacos, but there was enough for four.

Now I just have to drink sixteen beers to maintain the proper ratio.

posted by M. Giant 8:00 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

Taco Night! Ahhh, the memories. Okay, making tacos goes on the list of stuff to do when we come back next year.

<< Instead of taco night we have Facebook. >>

Shit. Suddenly I can sort of relate to "The Big Chill," AND I DON'T LIKE IT.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at September 8, 2008 at 8:57 PM  

I'm down for a new longer-haired version of taco night...

Note, my word verification for this comment is "cphljs" - if someone asked me to spell syphillis without vowels, this is what I'd write.

By Blogger Chao, at September 10, 2008 at 8:29 AM  

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