On my Icelandic boyfriend’s first time in the American Midwest

We stop at a Wendy’s outside of Pittsburgh

Because you want Real American Fast Food ™

And I prefer the red-headed girl over the red-headed

clown. I don’t want to sit in a drive-thru

explaining the Baconator to a Viking

and you need time to scrutinize

JBCs and Spicy nugs

and other exotic fare

in a fully authentic way


by mauve tile circa ‘92

and grease-laden air

so we go inside.

We aren’t in a hurry. We have time for you

to ask if they have french fry sauce or

hamburger sauce or chicken sauce or

other extremely literal and specific sauce

like you’re used to at home.

It’s only fair because I looked at you 

like you had five heads when

you got me excited for spaghetti and then

you pulled out a bottle

of ketchup and squeezed it over

the noodles. Tomatsosa was not

the tomato sauce I expected

then I told you about spaghetti sauce

and since its name is literal I am surprised

you didn’t already know that one. We

are both learning.

The woman behind the counter drops

something and bends to pick it up

as we approach, rising with a grunt. I say 

ya got butter fingers today?

and chuckle, like any corn-fed midwesterner does

and she chuckles back and says it’s just

one of those days, which is one of several

acceptable responses like

another day in paradise 

or the recommendation

don’t get old, kids.

These are things we say to each other

in places like Wendy’s in Nowhere,

Pennsylvania where grass is tall

and talk is small

and everyone feels familiar.

You stand back and wait while I

go through the motions just like I did

when we are in Haugkaup buying groceries

and I felt like a bobble-head and a butchered

takk fyrir is all I had to offer.

As we are leaving with our sack

of, silver-wrapped treasure

you ask a question that’s been on

your mind for the last ten minutes.

Do you know that woman 

in the Wendy’s? 

Jasmine Williamson lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with an entomologist and a violinist whomst emerged from her womb. She hopes to one day own taxidermy frogs playing poker. You can read her words (soon) in Hearth & Coffin, Sledgehammer Lit, and Selcouth Station. She internets as @mosscollection. 

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