ABSTRACT: The Secret Menu is the finest practical example of Foucault’s “heterotopia” available. It is a perfectly liminal state, a subversive bit of secret knowledge hidden away within the walls of an otherwise carefully prescribed capitalist hegemony. The Secret Menu has no fixed structure in time or place; the same store will offer different unlisted items based on the workers there or the time of day or the availability of raw materials. Each Secret Menu is a catalogue of potentialities, an unwritten list in which the customer, the workers, and the space they share all interact to produce the unexpected.
Description: The barista will hold silent, unblinking eye-contact with you for 45 seconds.
Price: 2.50 + tax
“The Parson’s Lament”
Description: The Manager will let you rest your head in their lap while they whisper “You’re not a failure” over and over again.
Price: 13.75 + tax (not available during the lunch rush)
Description: The staff takes you aside and spends fifteen minutes teaching you to tie knots like a sailor.
Price: 8.99 + tax + rope fee
Description: Whoever is working the fryer has to come out front and listen to you talk about transhumanism.
Price: 10.00 + tax
“100 Avenging Fists”
Chain: Popeye’s Chicken
Description: You can store anything you want in their freezer out back, for up to seventy-two hours, no questions asked.
Price: $25 security deposit (refundable) + $10/hour
“Room Temp. Special”
Description: The server leaps over the counter and cuts your throat with a knife, because you were too cowardly to do it yourself.
Price: 7.50 + tax
Chain: In-n-Out Burger
Description: You are allowed to smell the hair of one worker.
Price: 5.45 + tax + tip (optional)
Description: You are forgiven one (1) mortal sin or three (3) venal sins.
Price: 9.25 + tax
Chain: Taco Bell
Description: You provide an animal (i.e., “Catfish”) and a theme (i.e., “Ennui”), and the server immediately gives you a Delta Bluesman name reflecting them (i.e., “Droopin’ Whiskers Dan the Bluesman.”)
Price: 11.50 + tax
“Firework Factory Fire”
Chain: Burger King
Description: They will make a burger out of whatever meat you bring them. They are not allowed to ask what the meat is from.
Price: 8.00, you provide the meat (at least 1/4 pound).
“Balm in Gilead”
Description: Everyone on staff will immediately corroborate your alibi.
Price: 32.00 + tax
Description: You order a regular meal, but on the last bite of your sandwich, your teeth hit a cold, metallic object. You spit it out, and find a key to a storage unit on the edge of town. There is a number on the key. You drive there, just as the last rays of the sun die in the west. You are scared, but you are armed. The key unlocks the front gate, and you drive slowly down row after row of identical storage sheds. It is quiet, and the blinding cone of light shed by the lamps hanging from each unit’s roof ruins your night vision, hiding everything from your sight except the rusting doors of the units. Finally, you find one with a number on it, the same number as that on your key. You stop your car and step out into the night, listening to the click of the engine and the crunch of gravel underfoot. The key slides easily into the lock, and you turn it. You squeeze the grip of the pistol in your pocket as you slide the door up and away. Inside the shed it is dark, but your searching hand finds a light switch, and you turn it on.
As you stare into the unit, you feel your clammy hand loosen its grip on the gun. Whatever chance, whatever hope it once offered you is gone now. You know that now. It is the only thing you know.
Price: (cost of regular menu item)
Chain: Carl’s Jr.
Description: They take a regular menu item and wrap it in a quesadilla.
Price: regular menu item + 3.99 + tax