It was a bright, warm day in July when I first heard of 7-Eleven’s spaghetti with meat sauce. I remember it as if it was only last week… because it was only last week.
My friend Korkie gathered us around him, much like the philosophers of old, and spoke of it like it was the nectar of the gods. His eyes glazed over as he described it, and I could see that the dish had already taken hold of him. There was a man, yes – but a shell of a human being. He was more 7-Eleven pasta than man now. There were signs of life to be sure – the occasional flicker of an eyelash, the saliva gathering in the corners of his mouth, the heavy, almost lustful breathing as he reminisced about his relationship with the dish.
Korkie continued his epoch, but while honeyed words poured from his lips, they alas fell on deaf ears as none of us could believe what we were hearing at the time. Meanwhile our Italian friend Johan, cried quietly in the corner – cursing the day Marco Polo had ever brought noodles back to Italy.
The memory has haunted me ever since… burrowing its way into my hippocampus. Ceaselessly scratching at it as I lie awake and wonder, what happened to the man that I once knew? Was this unremarkable pasta really so life changing? I had to find out.
So here I find myself staring at this curiosity on my dining table. It sits there coyly – like the playfully shy girl at the end of the bar. Waiting to be approached. Waiting to be unwrapped. Even now I hear its siren song calling me, seducing me… but I am no fool. I have seen firsthand the ruin that travels in its wake. Innocent looking spaghetti coiled within… like a nest of vipers, waiting to be unleashed upon those who dare open Pandora’s box.
I carefully peel back the over-designed plastic cover. Its barrage of mismatched typefaces and garish colours play riot on my retinas, as if it were warning me to stay out. Inside the spaghetti lies in wait, but the meat sauce is packed in a separate plastic pouch – much like antimatter cannot come into direct contact with matter, lest we create a pasta-based singularity that engulfs our entire planet.
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I firmly squeeze the meat sauce out of the packet and onto the spaghetti. “Harder,” I hear it whimper. She is toying with me. The python that befriends the mouse before it strikes – a cruel and sadistic ploy. I place her into the microwave and watch as the warm glow bathes her in a soft light, accentuating the curves and slenderness of all the intertwining pasta… the moistness of the meat sauce.
My eyes follow as the microwave tray rotates her round and round, parading her in front of me. Teasing me through the layer of microwave-proof glass that stops me from being riddled with cancer. But it is too late… I am already overcome. Soon, I will be hers and she will be mine.
The comforting hum of the microwave drones on. Drones. Yes. Drones. Is this what we are in life? Are we all just drones doomed to repeat the same thing over and over, like a rotating tray in a microwave? Is this our purpose? Why do we accept this? Fate? Free will? Are we all drones to the entity that is 7-Eleven? Is convenience store pasta supposed to give you an existential crisis? Do we have any choice in our lives at all?! DAMN YOU KORKIE!!!
Anyway, 6/10 pasta. My compliments to the chef.
Viraj is a routine procrastinator and dad joke enthusiast who has somehow managed to live in Hong Kong for over 20 years. He is not a New York Times best selling author and has not been featured in Forbes or The Washington Post (yet). Viraj successfully completed his HK rite of passage during his younger years via the ancient tradition of shotgunning beers outside LKF’s 7-Eleven. He does not like kale.
You can follow his occasional madness on Instagram @virajbindra.