Oliver Bateman speculates about what his marriage to an anthropomorphized Panera Bread would be like.
She’d be my spouse, naturally. Not the spouse I’m going to have, but the horrible, hectoring one that I and probably every other person on this planet deserve. Miss Panera–”Panny,” I’d wind up calling her, even though I despise truncated names–would have slender, birdlike limbs that had been baked a fine shade of aubergine in the stand-up tanning bed she received from her rich, creepy uncle at her “Sweet Sixteen” party.
We’d bump into each another at the State University of College Library, me knocking her books to the ground and then fumbling around to pick them up in my usual oafish but endearing manner. As in any Nora Ephron movie, one thing would lead to another, and pretty soon we’d both be graduated with degrees in some useless subject like marketing and living in a tacky, upscale McMansion that her parents bought for us. The kitchen would be one of those huge negative spaces that’s ringed about the perimeter with a bunch of sleek, expensive stainless steel appliances. Not that she’d ever cook, of course: she wouldn’t be caught dead digesting so much as a single piece of food, and I’d be left to microwave as many Lean Pockets as it takes to meet my daily caloric needs.
Panny wouldn’t deign to work, preferring instead to focus on adding designer baby carriers and car seats to her Amazon.com wishlist. ”Oh, I just spent all day thinking about our future,” she’d reply when I came home from my soul-destroying sinecure at her father’s vinyl siding company and asked her what she had been doing. It’d be almost exactly like sitcom dialogue, our badinage, except instead of a laugh track there would be this little voice in the back of my head urging me to end it all. We’d turn the act of conception into drudgery, as she’d just lie there reading a women’s magazine (“Lose 36 inches and 100 pounds in three weeks: the secret the stars don’t want you to know!”) while I listlessly thrusted my semi-turgid ding-dong into her baby-bald vajayjay.
At her mother’s behest, she’d dope herself up on state-of-the-art fertility drugs and whelp triplets. They’d all be given trendy, despicable names and driven from expensive activity to expensive activity in a minivan that she never failed to remind me wasn’t as nice as the minivan the other aubergine-colored McMansion mothers were driving. At some point along this trajectory, I’d realize that my life was totally unfulfilling and way too expensive for what I’m getting in return. Even so, I’d lack the courage to seek out a juicy Wendy’s
BLT GGG, although I’d occasionally post anonymous “Casual Encounters” listings in the hopes of meeting someone who was.
As long as Panera Bread remains an overpriced restaurant that specializes in serving portions of dry bread so minuscule that an entire baguette of theirs couldn’t fill the stomach of an emaciated hummingbird, none of this will come to pass. But isn’t it pretty to think that it could?
Up next in this series: What if Panera Bread were a man?