I saw an old Doritos truck pulling out of the Farmer’s Market parking lot last weekend. By old I mean re-purposed, I mean no longer traveling for the marketing and distribution of salty snacks. The yellow triangles that once floated down the side of the truck as if to say, “Snacks are casual and fun!” were painted over with white. The paint wasn’t opaque enough, though, and didn’t match the white of the truck. Even more conspicuous were the wide, straight strokes someone had used to paint over them. Tapering rows of stripes that made me think of whiteout that comes on a little roller were piled in the shape of chips across the side of the vehicle, and I had to wonder how many people it would have taken to hold such a large whiteout roller. And where did one purchase such a thing? There was an Office Max just a few blocks away, but I’d never seen a whiteout dispenser that big at one of those stores. Maybe they are kept in the back? Maybe you just have to know?
Maybe someone really just paints that way? Maybe they were sick of conforming, so instead of tracing the chips with their brush and filling them in the way patient third grade girls color, they went with stripes, like pyramids of brush strokes. Maybe they had limited shoulder mobility and could only move their arm in a straight line across the front of their body? Why didn’t they ask for help? Why didn’t they hire someone? Or was this person hired? Was someone hired to paint in this specific and obvious and not at all subtle way? Maybe it’s exactly what they wanted? Maybe the goal wasn’t to hide the fact that this truck once carried suspiciously colored snacks to pimpled teenagers all over the country, maybe it was a commentary, a riddle, a statement about the evolution of our culture and our values and our needs and the way some needs never leave us, no matter how we cover them up. How even if we stop watching Wayne’s World (both I and II) every few months, we can’t escape the fact that it shaped us. Shaped us into the equilateral triangles of something mass-produced but iconic, a tiny piece of our cultural geometry.
I went back to the vegetable stand where I work. I thought: forget about it. But there it is, white-washed across my memory. Maybe forever.
Tatiana Ryckman was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the chapbook story collection, Twenty-Something, and assistant editor at sunnyoutside press. Tatiana leads Creative Writing workshops through The University of Texas at Austin and her local library.