Thursday, December 22, 2011

Krispy K. Kreme

December 22nd brings grey rain on Nashville. I am served by a short middle-easternish looking woman wearing a sweet albeit perfunctory smile and her issued red polo shirt encrusted with sugar and the classic Krispy Kreme logo. She wears too much eye-shadow to be able to tell her age. I am enjoying a maple iced glazed donut and wondering what the unnecessary use of the Ks in the name would have signified in late 1930s Winston-Salem, North Carolina where the first of these opened. But I refuse to let the spectre of racism ruin the enjoyment of my "breakfast" (it's hard to say that deep-fried bleached-flour dough circles slathered with pure sugar constitute a meal. Such is the conceit, however). I don't understand the substitution of the K for the C in advertising and branding. I don't know what the desired effect is. Some examples: Mortal Kombat (video game), Korn (lousy metal band), Kustom Kleaners (dry cleaners), Kreative Kuts (hair salon). The list goes on. What are they trying to say with this? They have taken a liberty with standard spelling, and somehow it translates into this sly wink. "You know there's a C there usually. We know it, too. We know how to spell. So what? We're just kinda crazy like this with our Ks sometimes. We mix it up, we know how to have fun, but as per the legibility of the rest of the word, we can exercise restraint and exhibit professionality as well. The spelling of this word is strange and yet familiar, intriguing and comforting at the same time. We do things differently, here. We defy your expectations." Perhaps Vernon Rudolph, the prima progenitor of this donut franchise, thought some of these things. And maybe he was among the ranks of the white, hooded men. Yes, in fact, I submit that his reason for using the Ks in such a fashion must be attributable to either A. an aforementioned rhetorical ploy of devil-may-care advertising OR, B. a subtle exhibition or even subconscious confession of membership in the Ku Klux Klan. Or both.

I digress, for my story is about a woman demanding donuts. I am sitting rambling to myself about the K.K.K, and a woman walks in with streak dyed dirty blond hair, Christmas colored clothes matched and balanced, a shiny black faux-reptile skin purse and a "fuck yall" look on her face. She marches toward the counter and blurts out at the first employee she sees (the petite Arab), "I don't have a job and I got eight people to feed!" At this point I think she expected the employee to punch a red button behind the counter which would send everyone into emergency-donut-making-mode. Rosie the Riveter style save-the-world efficiency would erupt. The long donut conveyor belt would start cranking double-time, employees would no doubt get burned by flung grease and boiling hot sugar (such are the casualties of emergency-donut-production). But the employee said the right thing: "Excuse me?" Reptile purse lady repeats the line, "I don't have a job and I got eight people to feed!" There are just too many questions here to ask, so I'll let you ask them and proceed with the story as I was able to discern it from my vantage point. Eventually I heard that the had a sheet of eight or so coupons for "One Free Donut." Of course they are one per customer and the eight people whom she has to feed have to be present to get their donut with the individual coupons. (Questions: where are they? This Krispy Kreme is not in a very residential area. From where did she drive to acquire this free breakfast for herself and her. . . I don't know, fellow recent laid off friends?) Reptile lady is persistent, though, and gets all her donuts, free. And she is absolutely, self-righteously indignant the whole time. From the moment she walks in the door she is already pissed that the employees there had not prophesied her urgent need for donuts, met her at the door with the box and sent her on "God speed, good lady! Go, do not delay! Feed your reptile friends!" I couldn't imagine what strange mongoose of the heart had haunted the reptile into making such erratic demands. But it kind of made me want to see if I had what it took, made me want to storm the counter saying, "I don't know what I'm doing with my life and I got weak dreams to feed! Can I. . . can I please have a free Kool Kreme Doughnut Shake? Strawberry, please."

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