This is part of a new series that I’m calling “Rejected by McSweeney’s.” It will feature pieces written in sarcasm font (not yet available on Mac or OS platforms) that the editors of McSweeney’s deem not quite funny enough for them. Someday, I’ll post a link to something they actually publish, but until then, enjoy the rejects.
The Perfect Weekend in [insert suburb name here]
4pm: Jump start your weekend in [insert suburb name] with a non-craft brew at McHarvey’s, the Irish pub next to the Kia dealership. Get there before 6pm to sample their famous 2-for-1 happy-hour tacos with inventive fillings like beans from a can and pre-sliced chicken breast.
6:30pm: [Suburb name] is the place to sample chain restaurant burgers. Have a car? Head to Sonic for the SuperSONIC served by a surly teenager on roller skates. On foot? Check out Five Guys, which has the same menu but with surly counter service instead. Vegans can fill up a small plastic container for the price of a tank of gas at the Whole Foods salad bar or try the quinoa-kombucha combo at Natural Rainbow health food store across the parking lot from FedEx Kinkos.
9pm: Head back to McHarvey’s for a nightcap of watered down Jameson and a garage band of middle-aged men playing Talking Heads covers. “This is the only place open late,” raved long-time [suburb name] resident, Chip Horton.
11pm: Snuggle in with your bleach-scented pillows and rest up for tomorrow’s explorations. Pro tip: The air conditioner drowns out the freeway noise at the Hilton Garden Inn but the bath products are nicer at the Holiday Inn Express.
8am: Up early? Grab some laps in the over-chlorinated pool and watch your bathing suit fade and your nails crack. Hit the hotel’s continental breakfast for a cold bagel and sugar-free yogurt. If you’re craving caffeine, Starbucks is within 100 yards no matter where you’re staying.
10am: Shop like a local. Browse the wide selection of cleaning products and athletic socks at Target for a deal. Next door, TJ Maxx offers an eclectic collection of discount bedding and off-season ski wear. Keep an eye out for their decorative glass jars of pickled vegetables—always a good hostess gift.
1pm: Panda Express is your best bet for consistent yet inauthentic Chinese; head over after the lunch rush to miss the crowds of toddlers ready for naptime. Your fortune may read, “Fun ahead.” Feeling healthy? Focus on the pile of vegetables you pick out at Souplantation and ignore the four plates of mediocre carbs that follow—you’re on vacation!
2pm: Locals know that the place to be on Saturday afternoons is [suburb name] Park. Join the ranks of over-involved parents shrieking on the sidelines; most teams will have a Jack, a Jaden and/or an Sophia if you want to join the fun of hollering conflicting instructions. Next, wander north, east or south into the nearby developments to marvel at how residents figure out which home is theirs after two glasses of chardonnay. Hint: look at the planters on each front porch… and the house numbers.
6:30pm: Go ethnic tonight at Golden India which has a passable buffet featuring perennial favorites like vindaloo and korma with an inventive twist: they’re served on yellow tablecloths instead of white ones. Says proprietor Hamid Abdul, “My family’s not even from India, but no one here knows the difference.”
8:30pm: Saturday nights are hopping in [suburb name]. Check out a high school sporting event or community theater production of The Fantastix. Locals rave about the kettle corn topping at the AMC movieplex at the mall. Or chillax back at your hotel and revel in the unlimited cable and spotty wi-fi.
9am: Grab a slightly stale cruller at Donut Star before heading to church to see locals in action. New Hope has a charismatic preacher and rockin’ music but be sure to remove your Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker before you go. Sacred Heart of Mary’s has the best cookie options; those with gluten allergies should check out the Unitarian’s coffee hour instead.
11am: Post-church brunch at Panera’s is a tradition in [suburb name] or create your own burrito bowl at Chipotle. Pro tip: their corn salsa kicks it up a notch.
12:30pm: The Sun Vista shopping plaza is the place for goodies. Check out Home Depot for plumbing products, Dick’s Sporting Goods for golf shoes, and H&M if you’re in the market for something cheap and sparkly. Wonder briefly if there’s a farmer’s market nearby, then grab a nosh at the Costco snack bar to keep up your energy.
1pm: Hit the road to beat the traffic home, where you could have spent your weekend doing exactly the same thing but slept in your own bed and enjoyed working wifi.