When I Was 13, I Loved A Man Named Kenny


I’ve never been good when it comes to favorites.  My favorite movie changes every time someone asks me, and my favorite actor or actress is often whoever was in the last movie I saw.  If someone asks me what my favorite color is, I’ll say the first color that pops into my head.  Are there people in this world that truly have a favorite color?  That must make life a lot more exciting.  I can only imagine what goes through their heads:  “Holy shit!  I see purple!  Purple!  Oh my God!  It’s my favorite color!  I’m pumped!”

The idea of having a ‘favorite’ this or that doesn’t make much sense to me.  I don’t have a favorite food – I love anything as long as it isn’t too Korean.  I don’t have a favorite season – they all have aspects I can bitch about.  I’ve never in my life had a favorite teacher – some have been more interesting people than others, but as for being teachers, it wasn’t like I had some crazy learning bonanza in one teacher’s class that blew away all the others.  Similarly, I’ve never called anyone my ‘best friend.’  I feel that if I did, I would then have to also designate someone as my ‘worst friend’ as well.  It would be fun introducing them to people.  “This is Chris.  We go way back.  And this guy…er…I don’t know what the hell this guy’s name is.  I never really talk to him and I blocked him from my newsfeed.  I had him over once and he ate all of my potato chips.  Whatever his name is, he’s a rat bastard.  So now that you’ve met my friends, let’s have a beer!”

There are a few things in life, though, that clearly qualify as my ‘favorite’ this or that.  Otters are clearly my favorite animal.  The Buffalo Bills are, without any shadow of doubt, my favorite football team.  “I Wish” is absolutely my favorite song by Ski-Lo.  And I, at least at one point in time, had a decisive winner in the category of “Favorite Restaurant” – the amazing establishment known as Kenny Rodgers Roasters.

Way back when I was 13, before I’d made love to a woman or even to myself, I found my first love in the neon-red glowing sign of Kenny Rodgers Roasters.  Walking in and seeing the chickens, sweaty with grease, turning slowly on Kenny’s rotisserie made my heart pound.  Looking at all the choices of sides gave me butterflies.  I’d sit at the table oblivious to what my family was talking about, lost in the warmth of the plate in front of me, the lovely ¼ chicken with corn, mac and cheese, and a biscuit.  I dreamt that one day I could take it to the Senior Prom.

You complete me.

But like all first loves, my adoration for Kenny Rodgers Roasters wouldn’t last long.  Only a year or so after he first appeared in a back corner of Henrietta, next to the Swiss Chalet, Kenny went out of business.  My father broke the news to me on a gray Sunday afternoon.  “Sit down son.  We have to talk.  It’s about Kenny and the Roasters.  They’re gone.  It’s not you…they just weren’t maintaining a profit margin enough to sustain a successful business.  No, you couldn’t have done more.  Getting the ½ chicken wouldn’t have changed anything.”  I later tried having rebound dinner with Boston Market.  It left me feeling cold and alone.

Every now and again, things from the past resurface.  The ghosts of old relationships have a way of appearing when we least expect them to.  So it was a real surprise when I arrived at the airport in Manila, of all places, and found my former flame sitting proudly in the center of the food court.  Since KRR (that stands for Kenny Rodgers Roasters, fool!) had gone under in the States, I just assumed it didn’t exist at all anymore.  It was gone, like the Dodo bird or the Arch Deluxe.  How wrong I was!  It turned out that KRR was alive and well in Manila, with restaurants all over the place.  Really, Manila is just like America in the early ‘90s: it’s full of malls, guns, and Kenny Rodgers Roasters.

“Can we have KRR before we leave?” I asked TTD, shaking with excitement.  We wouldn’t be in Manila long before having to fly to Cebu, so the reunification had to wait.  All week I made sure I was good, eating sinigag and bangus and other dishes so that I wouldn’t feel guilty about finishing my Philippines trip with essentially an American fast food restaurant.  When the day came, I was so focused on KRR I couldn’t concentrate on my lunch at JoliBee, where the door guy has a gun and where TTD ordered a burger that used two hash brown patties instead of a bun.  I decided the most embarrassing way to die would be getting hit in the crossfire of a JoliBee shootout, especially if you’d come to order the hash brown burger.

“You’re not a bad person,” God would tell you.  “What can I say?  I needed some amusement.”

At the end of the trip, I did indeed make my triumphant return to Kenny Rodgers Roasters.  Was it great?  Um, no, not really.  But I loved it.  I don’t miss being 13 very much, although I do sometimes miss the standards that I had at the time.  I miss thinking that a place like KRR could be the best restaurant in the world, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Them could be better than Pet Sounds, and any girl that talked to me could instantly become the most gorgeous gal in the world.  As one gets older, the perception of quality changes and things that were once nice suddenly don’t seem good enough anymore.

I don’t think I had many favorite things when I was 13.  If I remember correctly, I didn’t want much more than to drive, to kiss a girl, and to eat my ¼ chicken with the corn and the biscuit while my family rambled on about all that adult nonsense.



39 thoughts on “When I Was 13, I Loved A Man Named Kenny

    • Dang Drew! You and Prince, man! I like the Vikings too – they got a lot of the good Bills players when Buffalo couldn’t afford them anymore (i.e. Pat Williams).

      Hope you’re well, Drew!

  1. outtamybox

    There is a reason your posts get read as soon as I get the email notification while others wait anxiously in my inbox for their turn…you’re my “favorite” blogger. 🙂 Thank you, once again, for the laughter and smiles! I too remember when KKR went out of business in NY and it made me sad. His was the closest “real” southern type restaurant from Long Island to the first Cracker Barrel in PA. I too had to supplement with the cardboard chicken and bland sides of the “Market”. I’m sorry to hear KKR didn’t live up to the memory, but sadly, most things from childhood rarely do. I wish you better luck with the reliving of future childhood memories.

    • I think I was being overly critical – it was great. If they had Kenny Rodgers Roasters here, I’d go every single day. I like Cracker Barrel too…the Market is okay but a pale comparison.

      Haha – I can’t believe I’m having this conversation. It’s wonderful! And thanks so much for the kind words, Paulette. : )

  2. Are there people in this world that truly have a favorite color? That must make life a lot more exciting. I can only imagine what goes through their heads: “Holy shit! I see purple! Purple! Oh my God! It’s my favorite color! I’m pumped!”

    This made me laugh. But yes, I’m one of those people who have a favorite color. I like a lot of colors. But there’s this shade of yellow that just makes me go, “Oh, wow. It’s so beautiful.” Sorry other colors, but no matter what I do, my eyes love yellow.

    • Yellow is underrated. Like, for instance, I’m a big fan of yellow mustard. And I have a yellow shirt with Vincent Gallo on it that I occasionally wear around the apartment. (This is me trying to relate and quite conceivably failing miserably)

      Thanks for the comment Quill! Peace!

  3. When I was in Manila summer of 2010, I got to eat at Kenny Rodgers….. that was my first, so I couldn’t compare, but Mom used to eat at KRR in the early 90’s in the Philippines before we came here to the US , and she said KRR was more generous with the portions then than now. Anyway, what we had was a little salty for me… well, at least the soup. The food was so-so. Hey Topicless, did you get to eat at Mang Inasal’s Chicken Restaurant? And Jolibee ! ! 35 pesos for that delucious beef w/ mushroom gravy/ rice., that’s like 80 cents . Cheap , cheap !

    And I like that you sound really familiar with the place, and can even remember the names of the food like sinigang and bangus ( milkfish ) . You’re a good traveller. You pay attention to details !

    Cheers !

    • Hi Renx! I didn’t get a chance to hit Mang Inasal’s Chicken Restaurant (never heard of it). I ate at one cheap chicken joint in Boracay that was really good, not sure what it was called. Jolibee was pretty dope and I wish Korea could have something like it. Lotteria blows so bad…Jolibee had really good fries and a very large menu. I had a chicken sandwich and it was pretty decent. And the goofy mascot guy is fantastic – I want to be Jolibee for Halloween next year.

      Yeah, milkfish…what does that mean? Can you milk it? No, right – that’s preposterous. Anyways, it was delicious and I miss my Filipino breakfast with the fried egg and the corned beef. Sigh…I wanna go back Renx!!!

      • Hey, I even heard that the Jollibee costume has an electric fan in it’s butt part because it can get stuffy in there.

        Jollibee is a household name, you know? It’s the third word a child could utter after ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’. LOL

        That company is expanding though. I saw it once on Glee when the guy on wheel chair danced in the mall. I heard they also have abranch in Guam?

        Mang Inasal is awesome. ; )

      • OMG, sunny side up, corned beef for breakfast ! That’s our breakfast here in the US on weekends, ha ha ha. Damn, You should have a fried tapa ( beef marinated in lemon and soy sauce ), fried egg and fried rice for breakfast, or our Filipino chorizo. Our chorizos ( or longanizas ) are very delicious. That, with egg and fried rice is divine/And you eat all of that with hot chocola-teh and pan de sal ( mini French bread ) with white cheese. I piled up 10 lbs when I was there, just from breakfast alone.

        Mang Inasal is all over Manila.

        I told you we have a property in Boracay, right ? Next year, my parents will build a duplex there for tourists !

        Did you like the sinigang ? It’s sour soup, with tamarind to make it sour.

        Yum, yum……..

        Hey, Happy VDay !

      • I think I did try tapa…every place I went, they had three choices for breakfast and I eventually tried all three. One had a dry fish with it, another had the corned beef, and the third (tapa?) was like this weird neon red sausage type thing. I liked the corned beef one the best and stuck with that. All came with a fried egg and garlic rice (mmm).

        I stayed at the cheapest place possible in Boracay, I think. I was way down on Section 3 of the beach (I think that’s right…on the other end far away from Willie’s Rock), and my place was 200 Pesos a night. There was no hot water and the toilet didn’t flush, but otherwise it was cool. I was in a room with two friends and some random dude. So…the duplex…feel that might be out of my budget haha.

        The one regret is that I didn’t do sinigang right. I had it once and I was horribly hungover and didn’t finish it. It was completely different from what I expected and I don’t think I’ve tasted anything like it. That said, it was quite good.

        I miss the Philippines!!!

        Happy Valentine’s Day, Renx. You go out with that guy huh huh???

    • I could live in Jolibee. I’m not chicken. (get it, it’s a bad pun, because Jolibee serves chicken. Oh Miss Fruit I feel like death today…this is the wittiest my brain is allowing me to be right now…I am ashamed)

  4. I too am not one of those people who has favourites – for me, favouritising things means making big decisions and excluding lots of other things, that at any other time could potentially be amazing. But I do have a few, including my favourite fork.

    (I used to think Willow was a great film, then I watched it as an adult and, well, no, it just isn’t. Not as bad though as Dark Crystal, a film I had never seen that an ex-boyfriend once swore was amazing, found a special edition of, bought for 40 bloody euros and had to turn off ten minutes in because I was that freaked out. He was massively disillusioned too; proof that some things should never be revisited, precisely because you’re right, standards do rise with age.) Great post 🙂

    • You’re dead on – Willow kind of sucks. It’s tough to say that. When I was a kid in the 80s, I LOVED a movie called ELIMINATORS. It’s about a robot who teams up with a ninja and some other people to fight some mad scientist obsessed with time travel. I rented it for kicks when I was like 25, and – surprise – it BLOWS. I mean, it was putrid…bad beyond words. So I know what you’re saying.

      I should see Dark Crystal again. I remember being slightly attracted to the blonde puppet.

      Thanks for the comment Denise! Hope you and your favorite fork had a lovely Valentine’s Day. : )

  5. Yeah, I did, but it was an early dinner coz he had a 7″30 AM exams the next day. And the place was , well, a family place, Olive garden, ha ha. And he didn’t say anything which was a relief. I think he knew what the outcome would be, he he he. He’s trying a different tactic….. go with the flow, no pressure, and maybe , after some time, I’ll be more comfortable and grow to like him.
    Ah, that wasn’t tapa, that was longaniza. You didn’t like it? There are different flavors though. Maybe the one you had wasn’t that good.
    The corned beef is a common Philippine breakfast. I love corned beef sandwich better.
    I’ll give you 50% discount ! have you been to …….Beach ? Section 4. That’s where the property is. It’s a private beach, so there are no entertainment places there. The name of that beach is my mother’s maiden name.

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