One of music’s crowning achievements belongs to Weird Al Yankovic.
If you haven’t heard Trapped in the Drive-Thru, go give it a listen – but clear your calendar first.
It’s sublime – an 11-minute song about a guy who goes to a drive thru to order a burger.
And, no, it’s not an instrumental track – it’s dense with lyrics.
And, no, he doesn’t get attacked by ninjas or anything. It’s him, in a car, ordering a burger. That’s the plot.
Being a Weird Al song, it’s full of jokes – but the meta-joke is it’s this long, epic story about something mundane. Everything that happens in it earns a knowing nod.
“Yeah, that’s happened to me too!”
And so you laugh, you smile, you chuckle…
Well, the protagonist isn’t a good guy. He’s an asshole. It’s not like he’s kicking puppies or anything – he’s just short-tempered, selfish and rude to literally every character in the story.
(There are many characters…)
It starts with him watching TV, so zoned out he doesn’t even know what he’s watching.
It ends after a needlessly stressful night, one that could have gone better with a nanogram of planning or self-awareness.
Somehow, I doubt he learned his lesson…
The joke that’s meta to the meta-joke is…
Okay, you know those songs that have really upbeat tunes but really depressing lyrics? Like Khe Sanh – it comes on and everyone bops along, as if it’s not about a PTSD-riddled soldier heading back to South East Asia to “hit the mattress” with a “Chinese princess”.
The song is bleak as hell, but not if you ignore the lyrics.
Anyway, Trapped in the Drive-Thru is similar.
It presents as comedy, but it’s really horror.
If you can relate to the song in any way – and I sure as manure can – you should feel, at the very least, pangs of existential dread.
If not outright panic.
Think I’m exaggerating for comedic effect? I’m not, but if I were, this would be that same ‘horror wearing the mask of comedy’ style of joke.
Because check out the comments under the video on YouTube. Count how many it takes before someone mentions the onions, as if quietly bragging about making to the end.
As if 11 minutes of comedy demands superhuman endurance or focus.
If that feels like a stretch of your concentration, then you are just like the guy in the song.
That’s okay though – the nameless protagonist could have avoided most of the mistakes. Maybe even all of them, but let’s be realistic – no one’s perfect. Still, ‘most’ would have been enough to make it a fun night out for all.
If you study the plot closely, (I have, by virtue of this being a sticky earworm for me,) you can spot the points where even a little more calm, focus or kindness would have changed everything.
Regular Neural Resets – or even a recent one – could have saved him from a night where everything seems to go wrong.
“But it’s not his fault they forgot the onions!”
Yeah, it is. Listen closely.
Even if it wasn’t, he made every situation worse. Who’s to say they weren’t messing his order because he was a jerk?
Anyway, $5.82 (or $7.02 in 2021 US dollars) is a sweet deal for a chicken sandwich, cheeseburger, curly fries and a large root beer. A Neural Reset will cost you more than that and, in my honest opinion, it’s an even better deal.
How much would they have paid to get their evening back, I wonder?
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