May 31st, 2010. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the end to a sweaty Memorial Day Weekend – the kind of heat that flushes your face the way your first crush did and strikes your loins with the fires of your first VD. It was the start of something beautiful.
Through tapping into my vast network of affluent Arlingtonians, I finagled front row seats to the opening day premiere of Chick-Fil-A’s new Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Eagerly anticipating the opportunity to rub elbows with the best of the Ballston Mall Food Court, I put on a collared shirt, close-toed shoes, and even showered (though not in that order). But as I rode down the escalator into the bowels of a forgotten shopping megaplex, I was treated to less pomp and circumstance than a Terrell Owens Open Workout.
Where was everyone? Was I the only sucker that voluntarily filled out the required name, address, email, phone number, age, gender, and sexual orientation fields on Chick-Fil-A’s website to register for this sneak peek taste test? Unfazed due to my blinding hunger, I participated in what little fanfare you can make in a mall food court at 11AM on a federal holiday.
If only for a fleeting moment, I was a star in the eyes of Chick-Fil-A. The team embraced me as one of their own, watching with an intense glow as I brought the vision of S. Truett Cathy to fruition. They basked in the glow of a heterosexual man chowing down on the deep-fried carcass of what was once one of God’s creatures.
Chick-Fil-A and I were on cloud nine, destined to be together in a completely platonic affair for years to come. Then COO Dan Cathy came along and
thought about having sex with a dog screwed the pooch.
Before his comments, I had only minor gripes against Chick-Fil-A:
- No spicy chicken nuggets. Upon filing an official verbal complaint with Chick-Fil-A management over the limited nugget options, I was informed that they didn’t test well in the DC market. Which is funny that they even went through with that research to begin with. You would’ve thought that they would market test alienating an entire sexual orientation segment before proclaiming gays to be icky.
- No drive-thru in the Ballston Mall location. Succumbing to fast food is never a proud moment in one’s day. You’re openly admitting to the world that your personal health is an afterthought. By having to leave my car to grab a #5 8-pack, my ignominious behavior is on full public display.
- Not open on Sundays. While Chick-Fil-A may attribute this to its traditional biblical values, let’s be frank. It’s really a cover-up for artificially restricting the chicken sandwich supply to ultimately increase the demand for it come Monday morning.
So what did Cathy say exactly? He dropped this bomb “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that…we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”
But he didn’t stop there. Cathy went on to say, “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
To further compound the issue, Chick-Fil-A’s social media response seemed to ignore those who were most offended by Cathy’s remarks. No boilerplate apology or half-hearted corporate template. And, perhaps most troubling to fellow online contributors, it showed a total disregard for oxford commas. All of the above sparked a mix of national support and outrage, with even the Muppets formally ending their relationship with the restaurant chain.
Now, Dan Cathy has every right to express his personal opinion and establish it as the unofficial stance of his company. After all, corporations are people, my friend. And those offended have every right to boycott Chick-Fil-A going forward.
And for every reaction there is a more extreme and irrational reaction to the reaction. Mike Huckabee, noted axe legend and closet food play enthusiast, dubbed today as Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, not to be confused with Chick-Fil-A Cow Appreciation Day, which was just three weeks ago. Seriously, how many Chick-Fil-A pride days can we have in a three week period? It’s like they’re taking a page out of their Jewish forefathers playbook of back-to-back September holidays (which threatens to shut down the state economy of New Jersey every year).
The people who normally agree with Dan Cathy and Mike Huckabee are the type you can’t reason with. Their opinions aren’t formed based on logic and reason, but by a belief in a bearded man that lives in the sky, planted dinosaur bones in the Earth to make us challenge His teachings, and flooded the planet, killing everyone and everything save for two people and all the animals they could round up on short notice. They’re the type of people who claim that turn signals are an invasion of their privacy to haphazardly turn their car whenever and wherever they want. They’re the type of people who would have rode the Montgomery bus system the day after Rosa Parks was arrested. They scoff at the idea of an equality-based society.
But, instead of hating on Dan Cathy and Mike Huckabee, we should be saying thank you. Thank you for making the tolerant, educated, logical few look, once again, better than you. Thank you for having the vehemence to label an entire generation of 80 million people as having the conviction to change an antiquated stance towards a harmless cause.
After all, it wasn’t our generation that was so prideful and arrogant as to define what marriage is about – it was yours. While my generation was still learning the basics of US civics, yours was passing the very legal backing you cling to as a tangible validation of your beliefs. It was your generation that had the audacity to deny insurance and Social Security survivor benefits to American heroes, such as the late Sally Ride, just because of who they were in love with.
It was your generation that defined it.
And it will be our generation that redefines it.