As you know, I eat lunch at Subway every single day and almost always in-store, unless, as I've said, I happen to make eye contact with another diner on my way into the sandwich shop and that diner has either mustard, mayonnaise or a combination of both dripping from an engorged face hole. That's enough to put me off sandwiches, and actually food. Under these circumstances my stomach bucks and instead of feeding myself with food, I feed myself with the knowledge that I just saved upward of $4.
"Don't most of your stories start at Subway," Brother Pista asked at Thanksgiving before I started a story about something happened at Subway. I had no idea he was still reading my blog.
My favorite sub is a 6-inch BMT on Italian Herb & Cheese, with cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. I only eat this on very special occasions. Those "YOU DESERVE IT!" moments. I'm not exactly sure what is on this sandwich, besides a handful of meat that includes pepperonis the size of drink coasters. But I like how it tastes just a little more than I like how other subs taste, though not enough to eat it regularly because it is not on Jared's List of Acceptable Sandwiches. I tend to stick to Jared's List of Acceptable Sandwiches. This isn't a diet thing. I'm not a health-food nut. I just don't want to blow a day's caloric wad on my worst-favorite meal of the day. So.
On Mondays I always eat the Ham & Turkey. This is a pretty non-invasive lunch, tastes neither good nor bad. It's the special, though. And when I leave the shop I can safely say: "You can't afford NOT to eat it."
On Tuesdays I eat the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki. It is not on special, but I prefer it to the special -- the Spicy Italian -- which is not on Jared's List of Acceptable Subs. Although, if I am not going to eat in-store, I do not order this sandwich. Eating the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki outside of Subway is too messy for me to seriously consider. It's chunks of chicken, you know, and they will rain from the butt of the bread. Also: I never have them add the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sauce. I do not like how it feels, dripping down my forearms.
This is a risky sandwich. Occasionally one of the chicken pieces is fat and chewy, like it didn't quite make it through the chicken blender. When I encounter a piece of chicken like this, I spit it into a napkin, remember what I am eating, wrap up the rest of my sandwich and throw it away. Game Over. If I plan to take my sandwich to go, I order a ham and turkey sandwich. No muss, no fuss.
By Wednesday I really deserve the BMT.
On Thursday and Friday I mix things up, by either ordering a Ham and Turkey Sandwich or a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, depending, again, on whether I am eating at the shop. I might get crazy and order a Chicken Breast, but that requires a leap of faith. I have to really know that I have mentally prepared to suspend my disbelief that this is actually an edible filet taken from an actual chicken.
The other day I was at Subway, sitting at a tall-top table, my untouched Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki in front of me, a collection of short stories by Ann Beattie -- my Subway-lunch book -- and the song "Magic" by The Cars came on the store's radio.
The store's regular, a guy who sits there all day playing with his DS, and another friend began singing along. "Uh-Oh, it's Magic ... when I'm with you." I try to make eye-contact with this regular only about every third time I'm at Subway. I don't really want to become friends with someone just because we both eat lunch here every day. I'm pretty sure there is something wrong with him, and that there is probably something similar wrong with me. I don't really want to know what that is. But one time I saw him eating at the sandwich shop next door to Subway, and I admit that I narc'ed him out to the woman working the cash register that day.
So there they are, singing this song. "Uh oh, it's magic ..." And I thought how this moment really had the potential to get cool. Like, what if everyone started singing. The old lady at the table next to them, the business woman at the front of the shop, the employes in their green polo shirts. Everyone's heads bobbing twice to the left, twice to the right, in time with the music.
Instead it wasn't cool. It was closer to annoying. There is such a fine line between the two.