McSweeney’s Rejections Presents — An Open Letter to Chipotle

Have you never eaten for winter, sir?

This is the first entry (in what I can only assume will be a lengthy series) I’ve titled “McSweeney’s Rejections Presents.” The older I get, the more I’d like in terms of recognition beyond winning “Nicest Smelling Locksmith, May 2012.” McSweeney’s is a large, successful humor publication that accepts open submissions, meaning you can pitch to them without being Will Ferrell or Cal Ripken, Jr.

While I’m not a professional writer (yet), John Wayne Gacy didn’t start off a professional serial killer. But through persistence, he was able to eventually quit the day job and support himself by doing what he loved most in life. Here is the first piece I attempted to write for McSweeney’s, that was ultimately rejected. Please enjoy “An Open Letter to Chipotle.”

Dear Chipotle,

For the entirety of my adult life, you have been at its center, not unlike Christ for a Jesuit monk or Taylor Swift for a woman in her early-20s. There was not a day that went by when I didn’t look forward to the fulfillment of our lunchtime covenant: I’d eat you and, despite the fact I couldn’t sit upright or even keep my eyes open for a half-hour afterward, I got to think to myself “Boy, what a healthy lunch I just ate!” That was the deal, Chipotle.

And it worked brilliantly at first. After all, you are, in the abstract, made of nutritious ingredients. Rice? Beans? Why, staples of cuisine the world over! Tomatoes AND corn? My God, this is practically a kale smoothie after a half-marathon! I kept on believing, despite the fact the density, shape and metallic tint of your burritos when wrapped made it seem like they would have worked splendidly if used as an artillery shell or affixed to a wooden handle and wielded like Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir.

I know what many of you must be thinking right now: He thought Chipotle was healthy? Is he duller than guacamole exposed to the air for 30 seconds?

And the answer to that is “yes” (which is at least partially due to Chipotle not being the brainpower-facilitating superfood I once thought it to be). Even as my waistline expanded faster than 2-for-1 coupons got your faithful to return after those norovirus outbreaks, it wasn’t until I listened to the words your high priests of carbohydrates (fine, employees) called out to the back when running low on ingredients that it began to dawn on me that your fare might not be helping me shed the lbs.

“I need a spackle bucket of rice!”

“Get me another tortilla cut to the size of a drogue parachute!”

“Corn! Where is the field of corn?”

Over the course of several months, like a wife slowly growing wise to her husband’s infidelities or me realizing Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, the puzzle pieces slowly fell into place. Like maybe, despite its protein content, I might be better served not consuming an Olympic pool of sour cream or enough cheese to clog Wisconsin. (And they have special plumbing up there!)

The damage you wrought to my life wasn’t just weight-related: I was so high on spiked insulin levels that I stayed in a job I despised because it was walking (fine, powered scootering) distance from one of your temples. I was living the lesson we learned at such a high cost fighting the Vietnamese: That a man can endure anything if fed enough rice.

There have even been bad relationships you kept me in. I endured years – YEARS – of sexless drudgery with a woman because her idea of date night was greeting me with a burrito bowl and a binge viewing of whatever the Netflix production du jour was. Who can say no to that? It was like an in-her-prime Dolly Parton sticking a lit crack pipe between her breasts and then motor boating me. Powerless, I say! Powerless!

But I have seen the light, Chipotle. And I must leave you. For a man cannot return to your embrace upon realizing that 1,400 calories of anything in one sitting is only appropriate for Michael Phelps. Or women in trailer parks with pet raccoons. Probably named “Bandit.” The raccoons, not the women.


John Papageorgiou
Every Last Chipotle-Fed Pound Of Him

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