Ballad of America Day

Tastes like America.

Tastes like America.

My Sunday morning began the normal way: I battled the crowds under the freeway at the farmers’ market. But I felt guilty that I drove instead of biking. I chatted with the ladies at Watanabe Farms about the late tomato harvest and bought peaches instead. For breakfast, I made whole-grain pancakes with yogurt-honey-stone-fruit topping and sipped coffee that was locally roasted and delivered by bike.

Then things got a little weird.

So, I decided to combine a trip to a river spot in Carmichael with a much-delayed stop at Costco. Despite having heard Costco’s virtues extolled incessantly, including by a co-worker who calls it “the happiest place on Earth,” I try my best to avoid it. This was only my second time there, and I had been driven by the desperate need for cheap camping gear and an inflatable raft. I cruised around with my giant cart, munching on samples of Aidells sausage, and finally decided to buy an Xtreme cooler, whose label boasted that it could keep 96 cans (of Budweiser, presumably) cold for up to six days. No rafts, though.

I loaded all the value packs of crap I had bought into my car and continued to cruise east on Arden. I tried to hit up El Herradero Taqueria for some of its delectable ceviche, but it was closed, so my boyfriend gleefully suggested we eat at the Togo’s next door—an idea that I would usually nix in favor of a sandwich at Corti Brothers or Cafe Rolle, but I was starving, so I sighed and assented.

As I watched the young lady behind the counter struggle to portion out the mealy, dry scoops of hummus onto my sandwich, I was rocketed back to my days as a teenage vegetarian, when this sandwich was often the best option. It wasn’t a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Back in the car, we listened in horror to the words of a country song by Josh Thompson called “Way Out Here.” They include this couplet: “Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun / And you might meet ’em both if you show up here not welcome, son.”

Farther east on Arden, we hit up BevMo, and I refused to go inside. I was hitting the consumer wall. My boyfriend noted that the names “BevMo, Costco and Togo’s” roll off the tongue nicely and began to compose a country song called “America Day” about a man who is usually forced to eat organic food by his woman but draws the line one day a year.

Next, we stopped at Big 5 Sporting Goods and finally found all the inflatable river gear we had been dreaming of. We shoved it into our now full car, and I marveled at all the plastic goods I had purchased on this day, America Day.

The river was a seething mass of sunburned bros blasting Metallica. Approximately every four seconds, a plastic bottle floated by. We had to search far and wide for a quiet spot and finally just swam in a nearby fish pond.

Later that night, sunbaked and weary, I hungrily tore into the salty and flabby Costco rotisserie chicken, and it wasn’t half bad. It tasted like … America.