Stab From the Past: The Trajectory of a Flying Burrito

by pjmcbride

It’s storytime! Today’s story is brought to you by the man whose birthday it is, the freshly-retired Romuald Leo III, Renaissance man, scholar, and saint.

The time and place was 1979 in St Louis. Rom and I had been together for a year, and our relationship was rocky, largely due to my undomesticated state. (I’m still not domesticated, but by now I have been tamed.) Rom had let his driver’s license expire shortly after he got to St Louis, and I’ve never had one, so we were walking to the theater to see “And Justice For All.” (“You’re out of order! The whole system is out of order!”) Hopefully we weren’t arguing on the way, but I can’t guarantee that. Rom is much louder than I am (who isn’t?), so our public disagreements always looked like a guy yelling at a helpless female who wasn’t saying much of anything. We once attracted the attention of some police officers that way. The squad car pulled up beside us and the officer said, “Ma’am, is this man bothering you?” Well, he was, of course, but, since I don’t actually rule the world, bothering me is not a crime. If it were, the prison overcrowding crisis would be even worse than it now is. So I said he wasn’t bothering me, no doubt glaring at him all the while.

Anyway, on this occasion we decided to stop at the new Mexican restaurant, Naugel’s. (I might not have spelled it right, which bothers me, but this computer won’t let me run 2 sessions simultaneously, so I can’t check it.)

Rom is even more afraid of being left without enough food at a restaurant than I am, so he ordered 2 burritos. Turns out each one was the size of a person’s forearm, and he couldn’t finish it all, so he brought the second one with him when we left. And then realized, partway there, that we weren’t going to be allowed to bring food into the theater. And decided, since there was no trash can in immediate view, to just chuck it into the street. (I’m actually having trouble imagining him littering–couldn’t he have just thrown it into a trash can once we got to the theater?) He lobbed the mighty burrito, getting a pretty good loft on it. And then we saw a car coming down the street.

Speaking of movies, we should have had a Slow-Motion Action Cam, as time stood still and we stared at the burrito sailing gracefully through the air, and the car proceeding relentlessly up the street, and realized there was no way their paths would not intersect. Rom yelled, “There’s no way they’ll believe I didn’t do that on purpose!” and grabbed my arm and dragged me behind a nearby dumpster, where we crouched ignominiously. (And why couldn’t he have chucked it into the dumpster, for that matter? Mysteries abound.) I was surprised, because Rom was a hardscrabble working-class guy, from a background very different from my lower-upper-class Mad Men upbringing. I was confident he could kick the @ss of anyone he encountered. And, as it turned out, he could have, because it turned out to be an old man and his wife, and we had to watch the old guy get out of the car and clean the massive splattered burrito off his windshield. I’m just glad he didn’t have a wreck because his view was blocked by burrito guts.

And now Rom is himself a retired guy, and one hopes a burrito never gets cast in his direction, for verily, he hath no windshield to deflect it.