Excerpts from Suburbia : Panera Bread

The suburbs.  It’s the same shit on every corner.  If you need anything that’s not a cell phone, fake tan, cup of Starbucks, or burger, you’re probably gonna have to drive a little.  And oh yes, you will drive, because mass transit in the suburbs is like tolerance at the Republican National Convention – it might exist, but you’re gonna need a map and good luck to find it.

Being the savvy, cultured, international debutante that I am, it’s not always a comforting experience here in Suburbia; I can get a little restless looking for novelty and excitement.  I’ve come to learn, though, that if I pay enough attention, I can still find wonderful and bizarre things.

This week, I spent a couple hours in Panera Bread.

  • If you need a public place to get some work done, especially if you require Wi-Fi, Panera is the smart man’s (or woman’s) Starbucks.  Whereas most branches of the Seattle Satan are packed to the brim with fidgety teens and suffer from a paucity of seating, the typical Panera is huge and comparably quiet.  Shit, some even have a fireplace to sit next to.  And they have coffee if you need it.  And excellent food.  And you can take a whole goddamn booth to spread your shit out.  It’s a power move.

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  • Speaking of the food.  I want to take a minute to talk to you about the Cranberry Turkey Flatbread.  Take a seat.  Yes, sit down.  Ok, now look me in the eye.  Up here, my eyes are up here you dirty bird.
  • Now listen.  Listen when I tell you this.  The Cranberry Turkey Flatbread could be the best fucking thing I’ve ever eaten.  I can’t explain it.  It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it’s under $5.  But if it was legally possible to marry a sandwich, I would be at city hall instead of typing this.  It’s just flatbread, baby spinach, sliced turkey, a dollop of cranberries, and some kind of buttery sauce.  I don’t know what that sauce is, and I don’t want to know.  It would be like seeing God.  It would either ruin your perception of the world or make your head explode if you found out.  I would prefer that neither happened to me.  So I will just continue in delicious ignorance.  Seriously, go get one of those things.
  • Anyway, on to the experience.  As I was transitioning from my broccoli cheddar soup to the culinary orgasm that is the Cranberry Turkey Flatbread, I noticed a table across me with four teens munching and gossiping.  The girl had a Bass Pro Shops trucker hat on, which I felt was trying a little too hard to be ironic, or at least indicating she had taken style cues a little too heavily from Ashton Kutcher in 2009.  Her friend or boyfriend seated to her left, though, had a black Bad Boys Detroit Pistons t-shirt on, with the basketball and skull & crossbones logo on the front.  I wondered – is he wearing it ironically as some kind of throwback to 1990 to show he’s in tune with the hipster throwback authentic Detroit mindhive, or does he just think it’s a cool design and has no idea there was actually a team and massive marketing campaign behind it 25 years ago?
Is it ironic?  Or ironically un-ironic?
Is it ironic? Or ironically un-ironic? *head explodes*


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  • While I was enjoying (understatement) my CTF, my attention shifted to a family of three at a rounded corner booth immediately to my left.  Two parents, seemingly in their late twenties, and a toddler child shared the booth.  I’m not too good with guessing kids’ ages, so I’ll say she was somewhere between 2 and 11.  The entire time I was there though – and this included a meal and a full chapter of book editing afterward – the family remained at that booth, their food long since consumed, their table a minefield of dirty plates, wrappers, and discarded silverware.  More enveloping than the food offal, though, was the assortment of toys blanketing the table.  There were at least a dozen.  Exactly zero of them were entertaining the tiny girl though, because she was busy playing a game on the iPad the parents had perched in front of her before signing out of active parenting duty to scan their own smartphones, oblivious to the fact their kid was playing an obnoxious game with the volume cranked up to 11.  Only her yelled shrieks of excitement/terror/who cares broke the wall of sound her digital parent inflicted on the dining area.
  • I thought to myself, as I packed up my laptop to head home, you know where would be a perfect place to eat soups and sandwiches and let your kid make a ton of noise playing with an iPad?  Your fucking kitchen.