The following letters were written on postage-paid “Tell Us About Your Visit” cards found in Wendy’s fast-food restaurant. They are excerpted from a series of more than 340 letters written over about a year’s time.
December 14, 1996
I always feel like someone at Wendy’s is going to help me change. It’s so hard to really change— most of the time I don’t even think of it as a possibility. At Wendy’s, though, especially when I’ve ordered and I know that good people are working hard to bring me what I deserve, I know I can change. I can become something truly special, like an escaped death-row inmate or a twelve-year-old prostitute.
January 25, 1997
Light is hectic. That’s obvious, and it should tell us something. Where we are is inimical to us. We have overlooked the plain facts too long. How many times will we allow ourselves to be betrayed? It isn’t as though where we are has given itself to us— we have taken it! Do not believe otherwise! A home should be like Wendy’s: discreet, impersonal, practical, and altogether unholy.
January 29, 1997
Could it be that everything that is is just a funny after-taste? That brings us to the terrible question of what is funny. Certainly the body hanging down or bobbing is funny, and perhaps too any sounds associated with the noticing of it. But those sounds— that’s a different kind of funny. And those sounds get stuck on themselves eventually. Then a meal with no funny after-taste seems absolutely necessary.
September 12, 1996
I seek respite from tolerance, in every sense. Stop giving me what I want! Say to me, “This has gone far enough!” Put me under arrest, take me to the other side of the register! Take me back into the manager’s tiny office and explain to me the gross error of my design! Manage me! To manage— what is that? To not let be.
February 19, 1997
Nodding, bleeding out as steadily as anyone ever, the go-getters uphold their migration. Sometimes it’s even beautiful— their freedom from thought and their vigilant impulse to nestle further in to the flock. Lord, let them nestle well— do not leave one behind! Let them pass, squawking, drifting blankly in their beautiful rows— let them find that warm nest far away and breed and die. And let their brood return to us as welcome criminals.
September 25, 1996
A woman with twins today, aged five or six. Almost perfect replicas. They sit eating, staring off now and then into the mid-air realm, the not-eating realm. They stare out knowing that their mother is there. They stare out from the good of eating. I want to ask them: is that good already not good enough? And do you understand already that there is something more original than a mother?