I had never been to a Chick-fil-A fast-food outlet before, had scarcely even noticed them, but today, on the third day of Chick-fil-A Appreciation Week, I decided to go have lunch at the one in the local mall.
I was inspired at least partly by the announcement that gay groups intended to demonstrate at Chick-fil-A outlets throughout the country. They were planning “kiss-ins,” meaning that same-sex couples were going to ram their sexual preferences down the mealtime crowd’s throats by kissing each other in public. This was to be in retaliation for remarks by one of the chief honchos at Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, who recently told an interviewer that he was a religious man who thought marriages were appropriate only between heterosexual partners.
Mr. Cathy’s remarks had caused the mayors of Chicago and Boston to proclaim that Chick-fil-A outlets, which serve mainly chicken sandwiches, would not be welcome in their cities. That, in turn, prompted former GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee to organize Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day two days ago, in which people were encouraged to eat a meal at the restaurant chain in support of religious freedom and freedom of speech. The turnout, as you must have noticed in the news, was enormous in almost every community where Chick-fil-A has its 1,600 restaurants.
I showed up at the local restaurant after 1 p.m., or past the peak lunch period, but there was still a long line of people waiting to place orders, and there were some seventy-five diners — a staggering number for a single fast-food restaurant at a single moment — seated inside the restaurant and in a spillover area in the hallway.
I scanned the crowd apprehensively, but could see no kissing couples, homosexual or heterosexual. I did notice here and there an occasional pair of males, and an occasional pair of females, but evidently they were just good friends.
I had to wait in line for ten minutes before I could place my order for a chicken deluxe sandwich and a strawberry milkshake. The shake was delicious, but the sandwich seemed too peppery in spots, and in other spots too bland. I have had better chicken sandwiches.
I asked the young fellow who took my order whether he was keeping busy enough, but he didn’t seem to appreciate the gag. He seemed resentful. Perhaps he doesn’t like to work hard, or perhaps he is not entirely in sympathy with the reason that most people are patronizing Chick-fil-A these days. I can only guess whom he kisses when he gets home.
My meal was brought to me by a pretty, good-natured young woman whom I would gladly have kissed if I had detected the slightest encouragement. I told her that the lunchtime turnout seemed amazing, and she agreed, but quickly added that she hoped people would decide that the food was good on its own merits, and would keep coming back. “Let me know if there is anything else you want,” she said cheerfully, and it was all I could do to keep from banging my forehead on the table.
As I was finishing, an elderly employee came by to collect my tray, and I chatted with her too. She said that on the big day, Wednesday, some of the diners came from as far away as 150 miles, because they didn’t have a Chick-fil-A in their own towns. She said she hoped that more outlets would be opening in the region as a result of the surge in public support.
I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to see some demonstrators smooching, although it might have interfered with my digestion. On the other hand, perhaps it is just as well that everyone restrained himself, because this is a very red city in a very red state, full of people with strong opinions. I am not sure that the amorous couples would have left the premises under their own power.
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