By Tenzin McGrupp © 2003
March 1994, Atlanta, GA
A small 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts on the corner of Houston Mill Road, with a tiny counter and just two booths, was the closest D & D to the Emory University campus. The strip mall across the street housed one of our local hangouts, Maggie’s, where we’d often drink cheap pitchers of Milwaukee’s Best, shoot pool, and attempted to pick up Sophomore chicks. After a night of heavy drinking, we’d stop off at D & D for sausage, egg, and cheese croissant sandwiches or a box of Munchkins for the ride back to our fraternity house. Every time that I visited that particular D & D, I was inebriated; drunk, stoned, tripping, hopped up on ephedrine, or all of the above. We showed up at all hours; early morning, mid-afternoon, early evening, or in the middle of the night. We’d converge on D & D, and Haji, the poor kid from Bangladesh who worked the counter, would have to put up with our drunkin’ taunts and tomfoolery.
After drinking Jim Beam for six hours straight with Ryan P. McNeil (I went to college with two Ryan McNeils. I was friends with Ryan P. from Oceanside, and while I never met the other one, I heard that Ryan J. from Nashville was a stuck up, BMW driving, fake-tanned prick, who date raped three Theta pledges last semester) like a school of alcoholic fish, we ordered a pledge to pick us up at Maggie’s and drive us to D & D.
Haji took too much time making McNeil his egg and cheese sandwich. I craved three chocolate frosted donuts. My fingers itched at the sight. My mouth salivated when the aromas of freshly baked donuts wandered my way. I was a raging, drunk, junkie and I lost all patience.
“Hey Haji, let’s fucking go… today!” I shouted and snapped my fingers.
McNeil took offense to my uncouth behavior. He thoroughly enjoyed pointing out my social faux pas (drunk or sober) and this was no different.
“Can’t you see the gentleman is busy? This guy works two jobs. He’s a neurosurgeon in his country, and he comes to America to start a new life, stuck at the bottom of the food chain. It’s not his fault the microwave is slow. He doesn’t have to put up with your bullshit.”
McNeil could be a nasty, insecure dick sometimes. He’s the type of guy that makes fun of you in front of a group of people.
“For fuck’s sake McGrupp, I can’t believe you actually paid for that haircut!”
He purposely tried to put you down when you’re hanging out with a bunch of girls at Maggie’s.
“Maybe you should pace yourself McGrupp. Drink slower. You don’t want to pass out early, then wake up in your own piss again? Do you?”
Sometimes I wondered if our Ryan McNeil was a date rapist too.
“Hey, McNeil… fuck you!” and I playfully shoved him.
McNeil laughed, then shoved back much harder with a sinister malcontent.
I returned fire. We must have looked like a couple of high school kids messing around in the locker room. Then it got ugly. McNeil grabbed me and push me back onto the front counter. My head almost slammed into the cash register. I tried to fight back, but I could not stop laughing. I was enjoying myself too much to be pissed off at McNeil. He grabbed my ankles, lifted up my legs and gave a hard shove. I flew backwards, slid off the counter, and landed upside down, my face inches away from a batch of bagels. I stumbled, failed to correct my balance and slipped. To brace my fall, I leaned out against the wall of donuts behind me. I mistakenly grabbed the end of a rack of éclairs. It swiftly toppled on me when I fell back to the floor. McNeil and our pledge had a great laugh at my expense. They pointed and heckled.
Haji, frozen in a wave of shock, stood with his mouth wide open, unable to put forth any reaction. The front doors opened, and a new group of people walked into the D & D. I jumped up from my spot, right behind the counter and smiled.
“Welcome to Dunkin Donuts! I can take your order please?”
Three sorority girls, wearing Emory sweatpants and flip-slops giggled. For years afterwards I’d have nightmares accompanied by non-stop cold sweats, with memories of hearing Meggie Beckett’s shrill Mississippi accent, telling the same fucking story three thousand, two hundred and forty-six times about how, “Oh my goodness! I was studying for my Organic Chem mid-term with my suitemates. We took a study break and drove out to the Dunkin Donuts. We walked in and I found McGrupp, drunker than Ted Kennedy on St. Patrick’s Day, behind the counter giving away free donuts!”
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.