Zero Hour was for typing. It was middle school in the '90s, and a couple of days a week I was in "zero hour" class, which meant it was before-the-sun early, and involved typing meaningless phrases to bolster my words-per-minute score. A sheet of paper rested over the tops of my hands so I could learn the terrains of the 9 lb. keyboard. Before that, I played Oregon Trail on computer monitors that were so deep they looked like teeth. On our one and only family computer, I typed dumb things into the blank MS-DOS startup screen. c:\ HAIRY BALLS. After "balls" commands, I listened to Martin Luther King's speech on Microsoft Encarta and yelled horrible things at the impossible CD-ROM adventure game Myst.
That was then, and this is now: Yesterday I used my smart iPhone 5 to order a biscuit taco through the Taco Bell app in advance of my actually going to Taco Bell. I bought Taco Bell in advance.
At the drive-thru, the man's voice crackled "Is this Nick?" through the speaker, and I pulled up to grab my bag of breakfast, heavy as a collapsed star. I drove away without ever handing over a card. So, we've made it! The future really is present. We live in an important time -- one where Taco Bell would really like to send you push notifications. One where Taco Bell requires a seven character password -- one capital letter, one number, one uppercase, one hair of a wild moose and one photo of your father. The app's splash page said "Welcome amigo."
North Texas' own Taco Bell has breakfast now, and they're marketing it like Macintosh pushed their new computers during the 1984 Super Bowl: Break the chains of your bleak McDonald's dystopia, and "defect to the next generation of breakfast." It's like the movie Divergent, only with hash browns inside of it.
I defected by ordering a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit taco, a chicken biscuit taco with jalapeño honey, a bacon "A.M. Grilled Taco" and a California A.M. Crunchwrap. They all came in perfect holsters, because it's a new dawn.
Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit Taco, $1.99 (above) I had to inspect this one like a Steven Spielberg alien would wade through human artifacts in a distant future. Is it actually a biscuit? Why does it look like a muppet's mouth stuffed with cheese? The scrambled eggs weren't over-nuked, like McDonald's' usually are, but the sausage had that shameful chemical taste that comes with fast food meat. The biscuit was too doughy and weirdly moist in that little holster, as though it had its own Taco Bell atmosphere. A rainstorm of hot sauce couldn't save it.
Chicken Biscuit Taco with Jalapeño Honey, $2.49 Quickly addictive. The jalapeño honey sends signals to your brain to take control of your motor skills. It puppeted me to eat the whole damn thing in about 400 milliseconds. I'm fairly certain there was a span of unaccounted-for time after eating the taco. I think I came to in a bar somewhere in Argentina, wearing a crisp white suit. Eaten late at night, I'm sure the biscuit taco concussion is worse.
California Bacon A.M. Crunchwrap, $2.79
This crunchwrap is stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese, "flavorful bacon," pico de gallo, guacamole and a hash brown disc. It wasn't until I cut it in half, because I'm fancy like that, that I realized it totally wasn't a California Crunchwrap. It was the Bacon Crunchwrap, with eggs, bacon, cheese and a jalapeno cream sauce. After collapsing and weeping, I accepted the fate. Also, I'm very happy that they used "flavorful" bacon instead of the unflavorful kind. Do they have two tubs? One for flavorful bacon and one for boring bacon? The bacon crunchwrap was rich, in hard need of some acid. Like pico de gallo! That'd do it.
A.M. Grilled Taco with Bacon, $1.00 What could possibly be bad about this? It's smoky bacon cubes scattered inside scrambled eggs and cheese, and then pressed tight inside a tortilla. The whole thing was flat and sharp, like a ninja star. You could easily buy 200 grilled tacos and store them in accordion file folders or taped under desks and chairs around your house.
Inside the Taco Bell app, there's another one-click feature: "ADD CHIPS AND GUACAMOLE!" What a splendid idea! Thank you Taco Bell: This is truly the imagination age. Maybe a future, like the one in the 1993 film Demolition Man, where the only restaurants available are Taco Bells, is at hand.
This was typed at 75 words-per-minute.