20 Feb 2023
Five Guys Commercial
Disguised as a
After Matthew Olzmann’s
Mountain Dew Commercial
Disguised as a Love Poem
Here’s what I’ve got: the reasons why our friendship
might work. Because you are a social butterfly to my proverbial
hermit. Because you nearly scared the shit out me when we met
as I was absently perusing the bulletin board of the Soils Department
on that first day of graduate school. Because you apologized for that.
Because you’re so appreciative of everything. Because you
indulged my love of Chiapas, Mexico for the group project in
our tropical agriculture class. Because you never pass up a chance to
badmouth your Jersey homeland, same as me and my Kentucky birthplace.
You love vegetables. And you’re always there to lend a hand, even when
you’re across the country, like when you helped me move without lifting
a single finger. Because you once successfully grew over eight
hundred tomato plants in a Baltimore apartment, and it spawned
a lifelong love of gardening that makes me grossly jealous of your
green thumb. Because you remind me of a muppet with your wide and
eager eyes and warmly smiling mouth and shock of blond hair –
like a character
mistakenly edited out of Avenue Q. Because you rescued my sister.
Because you, too, love travel and adventure. You brake for raptors.
You brake for farmers’ markets, especially the Amish ones.
Because you love food in a way that I, picky eater that I am, never
could, and because you realize that you married above yourself and don’t
have the humility to be abashed by it or the machismo to deny it.
Because we’re both storytellers. Because of the amazingly sequined
and utterly epic dragon hat you brought back to me all the way from Asia.
Because you automatically dubbed me aunt. Because you helped me
with my field research for the master’s degree I never completed
without complaint, even in the pouring rain. And during those long
and freezing Wisconsin winter weekends spent protesting
former governor Scott Walker’s sinfully oppressive legislation,
you not only once loaned my foolishly bare-handed self
your gloves and went without in the February cold,
but you waited patiently in that monstrously long line with me
at the Five Guys on State Street near the Capitol
and sat with me tolerantly and calmly while I ate –
despite the fact that you had already eaten lunch that day
and didn’t get anything for yourself – and never judged me one iota
for ordering a hotdog with cheese and French fries
and devouring it all, even as, starving,
I vocally kicked myself for scarfing it down so ravenously
and loudly judged myself for enjoying the greasy junk food
entirely too much.
Behind the poem...
This poem was written in a local community poetry workshop, during which we were prompted to imitate Matthew Olzman’s Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem. Since I’m asexual and aromantic, I initally struggled with the assignment – until I decided to make it a friendship poem instead, and opted to write about a friend who has really been there for me through thick and thin and winter protests and Five Guys’ burgers and fries.