Always there waiting when I arrive, though not always visited, not always directly acknowledged and approached like an itinerant believer noticing the grail, but in the end deferring. Talked of often, gestured toward, but sometimes the car continues, the night passes. But not tonight. No, as I raise a glass of Michigan whiskey raised with cherries and oak from Traverse City Whiskey Co., thoughts harbor in my mind concerning a luminous sign, a window nestled in granite, and a mouth-watering journey necessitating the very testing of reality, the very meaning of being. Bleary, slightly-out-of-focus I raise my glass in the Butter Run somewhere in Saint Clair Shores, somewhere along the ever vigilant, the ever waiting Lake Saint Clair.
More in focus, more clear of eye and light, my son raises a glass and smiles. Does he know what thoughts now set sail behind my face? Of course, he does; no he’s smiling because he’s about to suggest another passenger for our gourmandish travels. Nicholas raises his glass of Irish whisky from Bushmills.
“Why don’t we watch Rick and Morty,” he states. “You’d like Rick and Morty, in many ways you’re ‘Rick’ and I’m ‘Morty.'” “Along with White Castle?” I ask. “Yes, along with White Castle,” he replies. “What is Rick and Morty?” “Oh, you have to see, but I think you’ll like it. Much, much concerning time.” My son repeats the last sentence again and watches me. Settled. We set our glass down. Pay the bartender and off we go to White Castle.
We wind through main thoroughfares and side streets, neighborhoods and weed-filled lots running along the highway. Houses with dark eyes note our passing. We note furtive movements in their eyes as we pass. Such a large glowing menu. So many possibilities. So many adventures. “Let’s order a hundred,” I blurt out. “No, not a hundred,” my son laughs. “Do you know how much a hundred is?” “A hundred,” I retort. “Too many” he defines. “Well, let’s order a lot.” “How about a case, a ‘Crave Case?'” “How much in a ‘Crave Case?'” “Thirty-six,” my son counts, “I believe thirty-six.” “That’s nowhere near a hundred,” I remind him. “And we’ll have the bacon and cheese sliders.” The thought of bacon and cheese sliders stills my lust for quantity. “Thirty-six bacon and cheese sliders it is,” I shout, “with fries!!” We pull up to the window.
Throughout myth and religion, openings in walls, in cliffs, in rock faces have offered passage from the land of the dead, land of gods to human fields and cities; openings as thresholds, as liminal spaces affording delivery of the sacred. How many years have I studied and lectured on such places? And now, I’m here. My son orders. I drool. We wait. We wait. And then a young woman tells us to pull into the “Crave Case” parking spot. Good Lord! The sacred has it’s own parking!
And then what was promised is delivered, the past made good in the present. The same young woman, like a vestal virgin attending the goddess of the hearth. Of course, of course. The comforts of the hearth via the priestesses of all that is holy. Vesta! And it’s warming my lap.
We quickly navigate lights and signs, dark avenues, and sharp turns until we arrive at my son’s home. We enter. We open the “Crave Case,” the magic box, the Ark of the Covenant. Inside glows, nay radiates individual slips of bacon and cheese sliders. Hurriedly, yet with awe and devotion, we place the rounded squares of meat and delight onto holiday paper plates, siding with wrinkled fries and ketchup. Such reverence. Such hunger. We bite. The meat juices and cheese, bacon and onions flow across teeth and tongue; and that other taste, the one I can never place, but that necessary taste making all of this “White Castle.”
And so it begins. Nick pushes buttons, the big screen alights, and as advertised Rick and Morty appears–Season 1, Episode 6 “Rick Potion #9.” Nick says once before clicking, “You like the multiverse, you like your Borges, you like your Lovecraft; well, here’s verse upon verse without end, without rhyme nor reason.”
Immediately, I recognize elements of Ren and Stimpy, Southpark, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, “Laurel and Hardy,” Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, any number of films, novels and stories with love and science running amok like Weird Science. And yet. And yet. I finish my first slider and reach for more.
Ah yes, love run amok, lust run amok, science and flu producing a love without boundaries, without any limitations. All the love of the world for you, just you. How wonderful? What a nightmare. And so, science comes to the rescue, promising to undo what it has wrought with more science. And so praying mantis people now love you, want to mate with you, and then eat you. A cannibal’s dream. And then. And then?
Cronenbergs! Yes, the ongoing mutations of science playing with the genetic code of life! Cue Herbert George Wells! Cue David Cronenberg! Answers within the multiplicity of the human genome containing all creatures who have passed and who we have passed through on our way to our humanity, and yet the answer always remains beyond the sum of the parts of the whole. Terror as I engulf slider #3 and #4.
Has the day been saved? Have all the creatures of Montaigne’s weed-choked mind filled with chimeras and fantastic monsters finally been put to bed? Has the wholesome, Leonardo Da Vinci geometrical, Ancient Greek golden mean human form returned to its pride of place? Has our reality been restored? Slider #5 and #6 disappear into my mouth, its own sacred cavern.
No. Our two intrepid travelers have jumped from one dimension to another, from one reality to another, from one verse to another. Suggesting along the way that infinity rebounds with dimensions, certainly evoking Zeno’s Paradox concerning infinity, but we’ll leave that for another time. As I finish #7 and #8, and Nick looks at me with horror at what I’ve consumed, along with fries, along with long sips of Laphroaig 10–I mean what better to pair with “White Castles” and the manipulation of space and time, really Laphroaig 10 makes any meal a true briny and peaty descent into the maelstrom–I ponder if I am “Rick,” if Nick is “Morty,” if I have traveled with him through the universes always affording a way to avoid and escape into aberrations, and really any reality exists as an aberration, and is the one I’m in now the best of all possible worlds or only the one I haven’t left at this particular moment. Deep thoughts. Deep grease. Bon Appétit!