I had always kind of thought the Herkimer Pizza-Hut would manage to survive the heat-death of the universe. Cock-a-roaches and tardigrades collecting Personal Pan Pizzas from the Parents As Reading Partners school program, playing that mustard-yellow tobacco-stained Pac-Man cocktail table from nineteen-eighty, right up until God Herself yelled out “last call, bug-boys!” and turned out the final lingering handful of dying stars.
It’d always just kind of been there on Albany Street, amidst the ever-shifting tableau of low-rent commerce, usually flanked by a car-parts shop and some off-brand bank. Goddamned Wal-Mart murdered nearly everything in Herkimer, King’s Court Mall, the Coffee Bar, even Last Unicorn Music, but that one Pizza Hut almost no one ever went to, she seemed somehow immune to the humiliation and degradation that come with late-stage capitalism and the harsh passing of time.
There was never a good reason for Pizza Hut in Herkimer, the Mohawk Valley has the third-best pizza in the world after Brooklyn and Actual Italia. You can huck a football in near any direction here and hit a good family-owned pizzeria or, failing that, a bar. Our bumper crop of despair still props up bars, after all. It seems as if the only businesses remaining not owned from Bentonville Arkansas or Beijing China are quite-good pizzerias and awfully-depressing bars. But there it was anyway, just surviving there inexplicably, down the street from that one Dollar General store I’m convinced is merely a front for one of The Seven Mouths Of Hell On Earth. I’ve seen people buy toilet paper there with loose handfuls of nickels, because they spent their paper cash on that jug of cheap rum in the other hand. Which I certainly also blame on the Walton-Market, somehow.
I don’t know what the final nail was in their burnt deep-dish-cheesed coffin but it was probably COVID or, anyway, some money-mongers will say it was, as an excuse for distant profiteering
destroying ten more jobs that they might get to purchase three yachts this Christmas instead of two, as if they were some sorts of paupers. That’s the way of things now, tearing all the copper out the walls of our entire civilization for another time-bomb Tesla pyramid-scheme car.
There will be no one else to eulogize the Pizza Hut, so why not me, middle-aged and sentimental for the defunct ephemera I thought had always been here and would always be here, just because they were here when I arrived. A too-short life creating the optical illusion of object-permanence, where none ever existed.
Good night, wilted kale decorating the salad buffet. Good night, red plastic cups so cheap that they shattered even worse than had they been glass. Good night, Guns N Roses singles, in the jukebox once there. Good night, working-class job opportunities everywhere.
In retrospect, you made so little sense, but for those of a place and time to not ever notice, your ridiculousness is remembered fondly, and someday down the road, may the same be said of me.