Milkshake and a movie–sometimes an existential need

Superman and a milkshake--a very American Sunday.

Superman and a milkshake–a very American Sunday.

I’d whittled away most of Sunday doing mundane errands and odd jobs–grocery shopping, laundry, tidying my apartment, sorting out paperwork–and suddenly thought to myself, At least do something mildly fun, the weekend is nearly over.

By this stage is was dinner time. I headed to P.Terry’s, the urge to have a milkshake having assumed essential proportions, and parked in the drive-in cue.

“Excuse me, sir?” said a guy holding a guitar who had wandered up to the passenger window.


“We’re a group of travelers and were wondering if you’d like us to play you a tune for a couple of bucks?”

“Look, I just want a milkshake, really. I’m sorry. Good luck.”

He’d have had more chance if he’d threatened that he and his friends would stand around my car and play music until I paid them to stop–the last thing I wanted was to be serenaded by a bunch of random travelling musicians while I sat in my car like a lemon. Perhaps I need a sticker on my car: “British occupied–don’t go in for displays drawing public attention”.

I always feel bad, though, whenever someone asks for money–which happens quite a bit in the U.S.–and I don’t give anything. I try and judge when it’s warranted or not, but not giving a dollar always seems tight.

I drove to the speaker to place my order and pulled up just beyond the speaker so that I could open my door and lean out toward the speaker–my driver’s door window electrics have gone and it won’t roll down (bad timing with the heat heading into the stratosphere).

Driving on to a farther window, same maneuver, although I had another window to go–the first window was just for paying. So, next window, same maneuver, but I went too far forward and had to slip into reverse and inch back, my door open, and me feeling that maybe I just need to pay and get my window sorted.

Eventually I had what I came for: regular double-chocolate milkshake, regular fries and a veggie burger. The angels put their sweet lips to their trumpets.

Next I headed to the cinema and caught the new Superman film: “Man of Steel”. It was rather corny, the lead actor (British) was a bit wooden, the plot ambled along too often–at one stage I found myself thinking, Why are they still making movies about Superman and why am I still watching the movies, we all know the story?–but the music was stirringly good, the effects managed to catch the eye and by the end it had provided an acceptable dose of escapism.

I drove back, trying to make the most of the warm night air coming in through the passenger-side window, and like anyone thinking about Monday’s challenges and the start of another week. The milkshake-movie combo hadn’t been great, I wasn’t sure that my existential need had been sated, but the space it had carved out in the day felt good.

Back at my apartment, I got ready for bed–including spraying some surfaces with Raid to let the ants know what to expect for the week; I’ve tried everything and they won’t give up–and fell onto my bed trying not to think of the Hans Zimmer score from the movie and, as ever, feeling somewhat of a lesser version of a striving stranger in a strange land.