Last week, a guy with a cool name and an even cooler reputation died. I’m guessing that during his ninety-seven-year life span, no one recognized him in the grocery store, he wasn’t followed relentlessly by photo-hungry paparazzi, and he never had worry if he looked too old, too chubby, or too Botox’d. Yet this former marketing executive had quite a following of fans. In 1964, Arch West decided that the world needed something a little spicier, cheesier, and delicious-ier. He was right. Even though the Beatles thought all we needed was love back then, they were wrong. All we really needed was Doritos.
When I was growing up, there were quite a things in my house that were predictable on a weekly basis: (1) my sister would lose her purse, shoes, and wallet; (2) my father would ask me how long I really practiced my cello; and (3) my mother would buy plain potato chips at the grocery store. As a result, I never knew there was such a thing as Doritos until 1979 when I stood in front of the vending machine in high school. I stared at the strange red and orange sack of chips in row D9.
“What are those?” I asked my friend who already had gained a vast knowledge about all sorts of recently-introduced worldly foods like the Twix caramel cookie bar and the McDonald’s Happy Meal.
“Just wait,” she remarked as she slipped two dimes and nickel in the vending machine, pushed D9, and tapped her fingers on the glass impatiently. A few seconds later, the Doritos bag fell to the bottom of the machine. She pulled out the sack and handed it to me. “Try one,” she ordered.
Quicker than she could say nacho cheese three times in a row, I had that bag open. The unforgettable odor of corn, vegetable oil, and cheese powder wafted up to my nostrils that immediately flared in anticipation. My saliva glands went into overdrive. I panted like a dog. I reached into the bag and held a chip between two fingers. I stuck my tongue out and licked the chip. My eyes rolled back in my head. “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” I whispered just before I shoved the entire chip into my mouth. Its sharp corners dug into my cheeks, but I didn’t care. The nacho cheese spices danced on my tongue like ballerinas.
I swallowed. “Oh my G-O-D,” I gasped, “I am in L-O-V-E.”
My friend laughed as she stuck her hand in the Doritos sack, grabbed one, and exclaimed. “I knew it!”
From that day forward, Doritos and I were quite a pair. Doritos were there for me when my peanut butter sandwich was too boring, my boyfriend broke up with me, and when I was cramming for a college exam. We were inseparable. I ate them whole; I crunched them up and poured them into my mouth; and I crushed them on top of my salads. After I had my baby, the nurse asked me what I wanted to eat for my first snack as a new mother. “Why Doritos, of course,” I answered as if she should have already known. She brought me graham crackers instead. I was devastated.
Last week, I bought a family-sized bag of ranch-flavored Doritos. A day later, I heard the news that Arch West had died. Just yesterday, I heard that West’s family planned to sprinkle Doritos around his urn filled with his ashes during his memorial service. Last night, I sat my husband down after the kids had gone to bed. “I have something I need to tell you,” I started.
“Oh no, is it that weird thing that happens with your car when it rains again?” he asked with a panicked look on his face. “Or is it the credit card bill?” He paused, “Wait, did you go to the doctor today? ARE YOU DYING?”
I patted his hand. “Calm down,” I replied, “I just want you to know how much I love Doritos. Doritos and I have been through a lot together. After I die, I want you to crush a few Doritos and add them to my ashes. Then, and only then, sprinkle them in my desired location.”
“Good grief!” he yelled as he walked away, “I thought it was something serious!”
One day, he’ll learn. But just in case, I’m leaving a public record here of my last wish to have a few Doritos next to me in the hereafter. It’s really for selfish reasons because I think when I have a few crunchy, salty, delicious Doritos next to me, it’s going to make the trip to penance so much less stressful.