For four years now, I’ve dreaded seeing the traffic light turn red at one particular intersection in my town. For as long as 70 seconds I’m subjected to the heavenly aroma hovering in the air. There is no escape from the poultry perfume that is Chick-fil-A. It’s not only the plump fried chicken seasoned with an addictive amount of salt but also the memory of perfectly tart/sweet hand-squoze (yes, squoze, dammit) lemonade pouring down my gullet, dutifully and deliciously cutting through the first layer of chicken salt that somehow settled there.
And don’t even get me started on the waffle fries. At least I can’t miss the chicken salad, recently dropped from the menu, I hear. It was surprisingly tasty even if it was always smushed between that middling loaf bread with a single pickle chip adornment. Not that I can really remember the details. It has been, like I said, four years. And 10 months and 16 days.
All of which is to say I haven’t eaten at Chick-fil-A in all that time because of the company’s continued financial support of organizations that blatantly discriminate against the LGBTQ community. It’s not the only store I boycott, of course, but the Hobby Lobby (“You can’t make us pay for your birth control, harlot!”) boycott was easy. Don’t craft. Don’t care. Don’t need (another) faux wooden sign to remind me that if I’m lucky enough to live at the beach, I’m lucky enough.
But chicken. That perfect shade just past medium golden as memory serves. Did I mention the brine? Swoon.
Politics, specifically liberal politics, has affected my life in ways large and small. This is one of the larger ones. Because I can’t, won’t, will never support a business that is antithetical to my core beliefs and values no matter how much I miss the limited time peach shake.
Why am I telling you this now? Because I’m happy to say the recent Papa John’s Pizza brouhaha doesn’t hurt me. Mouthy owner John Schnatter blames declining business on the NFL players who kneel during the anthem to protest unequal treatment against people of color by the criminal justice system. Why he’s only worth $801 million now!
I’ve never liked Papa John’s Pizza. Not because the guy who owns the chain is such a notorious nozz but because I don’t care for the limp toppings and pallid crust. It was the only food they ever served when I chaperoned my kid’s middle school dances. I also don’t miss Science Fair or 5-foot-tall boys marinating in Axe.
I realize how shallow my stands must sound to people who have actually fought in combat for what they believe in. It’s the kind of thing that makes people hate liberals like me.
Truthfully, some of my liberal friends eat at Chick-fil-A, claiming “They don’t really mind gay people nearly as much as they used to.”
Yes, well. I feel so much better hearing that. Enjoy your Mocha Peppermint Shake. Traitor. I’m rolling up the window now.
— Wilmington, North Carolina’s Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.