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The Substitute

by Bryan A. Thompson



<Jerry and Elaine standing in line at the Submarine shop for what seems like forever...>

Jerry: "Tell me again why we're still standing here?"

Elaine: "The roast chicken breast is reeeeeealy goooooooood."

Jerry: "We took a cab thirty five miles ONE WAY so that we could have a chicken sandwich? The reason I don't eat at my parents house is the chicken sandwich. During my formative years I was forced to eat chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, chicken and dumplings, fried chicken..."

Elaine: "Hmm. I guess its true."

Jerry: "What was that?"

Elaine: "You are what you eat!"

Jerry: "Listen, Sister..."

Elaine: "What are you going to get?"

Jerry: "Its not going to be chicken, I can tell you that much. And I still can't believe that I got talked into eating at a place called 'There's No Substitute'. I should have guessed it'd be in the Suburbs."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <an employee at the shop> "What can I get for you two?"

Elaine: "I'll have one of your 'World Famous' Roast Chicken Breast sandwiches, please."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "And for you?"

Jerry: "I'm not sure yet - why don't you just go ahead and make hers?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I don't think we can do that."

Jerry: "I guess you're new here."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Yep. I'm filling in for my cousin."

Jerry: "Oh, you're a Substitute."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Have you decided what you want yet?"

Jerry: "No, I've been talking to you - I don't understand why you have to make them together, anyway. It takes the same amount of time either way. And besides, they'll get mixed up."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Oh, I get it. You don't think I'm good enough. You think you're better than me. I've been doing this for an hour and a half - I think that I can handle YOUR sandwich."

Jerry: "I'll have the - uh - roast chicken breast."

Elaine: "I thought that you said-"

Jerry: "He pressured me into it - Elaine, you can't imagine the stress..."

Elaine: "Wussy."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Jerry> "You can always change it - I haven't started yet."

Jerry: "No, I'll stick with that one - I'm kinda homesick."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Lainey> "What was yours again?"

Elaine: "The same as his."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Jerry> "What was yours again?"

Jerry: "I thought that you said you could handle this?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Are you going to start with that 'better than me' stuff again?"

Jerry: <to an amused Elaine> "Better? No. Sub-par, now that's another story..."

Guy in line behind Jerry: "There are other people in line, you know."

Jerry: "They're both the chicken."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <sarcastically> "Is that the 'World Famous' roast chicken breast?"

Jerry: <to no one that cares> "I thought that the famous chicken was a baseball mascot."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Lainey> "How would you like your roast mascot?"

Elaine: "Roasted."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Jerry> "And you, SIR?"

Jerry: "Saw off the beak, slap it in the ass and throw a bun on it."

Elaine: "Yummy." [Authors note: I've never heard her say that word.]

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to both, finally>: "Would you like double meat on these? Its only two dollars more."

Elaine: "Mmm, double meat."

Jerry: "I don't think it'll fit, will it? You've got to leave room for the vegetables, you know..."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I think it'll fit. Did I mention its my first day?"

Elaine: <to Jerry> "Shut up - I've been trying to get them to do this for years. You're going to jinx it."

Elaine: <to Kenny> "Make mine a double."

Jerry: "I don't think so."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Would you like double cheese? Its 40 cents extra."

Elaine: "Yep."

Jerry: "Ah - no. I think that the cheese and chicken should be balanced. If you get too much chicken, you can't taste the cheese and if you've got too little, the chicken tastes dry. You know, someone spent countless hours in a laboratory to discover the perfect cheese/chicken ratio. I don't think he'd appreciate me coming along and screwing that all up."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to both> "Would you like double chicken and double chicken? Its $2.75 extra."

Elaine: "Yes. Wait - now you're raising your prices? You're going to give me the old price, aren't you? I ordered before the price went up."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "It takes longer in the microwave. Electricity doesn't grow on trees, you know."

Jerry: "Microwave? I thought that you said it was roasted."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "It was. Before. Its just reheated in the microwave."

Jerry: "Doesn't it dry out in the microwave? The great part about the roasting is the juices. You lose the juiciness in the microwave, believe me."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "What are you, some kind of chicken expert?"

Jerry: "Yes, I am."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Look, do you want the double chicken / double cheese, or not?"

Jerry: "Asked and answered, counselor. Move on."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "You sure that you don't want the extra cheese / extra chicken?"

Jerry: "Look, if I didn't want the double chicken, or the double cheese, what makes you think that I'd want them both?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "It balances out the whole chicken/cheese ratio."

Elaine: "He's got you there."

Jerry: "No, If the microwave dries out the chicken, then twice as much chicken means the sandwich is twice as dry. I don't think so."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Some customers tell me that oregano brings out the juices in the chicken. Would you like to try that?"

Jerry: "How could oregano bring out the juices. They're either there, or they're not. If the microwave takes them out, sprinkling dry powdered leaves on it isn't going to improve the situation."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "We have Bar-B-Q sauce. Have you tried Bar-B-Q sauce on our 'World Famous' roast chicken breast? Its very popular."

Jerry: "I can imagine. So you artificially dry the chicken, then try to cover it up with Bar-B-Q sauce? It isn't like its Bar-B-Q chicken when you do that, you know."

Elaine: "I'll pay for the double meat. Just order, already."

Jerry: "Look, it isn't going to fit."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Would you like to see how hers turns out before you decide?"

Jerry: "That's what I wanted to do before. I thought that you couldn't do that."

Kenny Mandelbaum: I already made them together. A sandwich is a sandwich when we put the chicken in the microwave."

Jerry: "If I get double meat now, its going to be a different temperature than the first chicken. I've heard of sweet and sour pork, but I don't think I can deal with hot and cold chicken."

Elaine: "My sandwich is getting cold, Jerry, hurry up."

Jerry: "I mean, I think double cheeseburgers are a bad idea, too. You look ridiculous opening your mouth as far as you do. Why not just make a single patty twice as big around?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "So that's a 'no'?"

Jerry: "No."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "No, that's not a 'no', or no, you don't want the double meat, double cheese?"

Jerry: "Why don't you take that extra chicken / extra cheese and..."

Elaine: "Jerry! The timer is running out!"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Would you like to make this the #8 combo meal, with a 22oz drink and chips?"

Elaine: "No. But I would like a big cookie."

Jerry: "You've been here two hours. I know this because when we ordered, you'd been here an hour and a half. How could you have possibly memorized all the numbers of the combo meals?"

Elaine: "That's two 'no's' on the combination."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Will you be ordering any drinks or chips with your meal? Because if you are, you might think about getting the combo and donating the leftovers to charity."

Jerry: "How do you donate a 22 oz. Coke to the Salvation Army? What is it like, a really slow marathon? What, do you stand along parade routes and hand them cold drinks as they march by? And if so, where do they hang the cup holder? And how do they play and sip at the same time? Now that's a charity case."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Vegetable time, what would you like?"

Elaine: "Ooh, I want everything on mine."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "You can't, there's no room. You should've listened to him."

Jerry: "Hah!"

Elaine: "Well how much room is there? Can I get like two or three vegetables?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Two. And make them small ones."

Elaine: "Alright, at the risk of an already cold sandwich, what, may I ask, is a small vegetable?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Lettuce is a big one. So are tomatoes. Vinegar and oil are small ones. See how it works?"

Elaine: "Oil and vinegar aren't vegetables. They're oil - and vinegar. If anything, vinegar is a fruit."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "But they're down here next to the vegetables. They're in the vegetable section. See?"

Elaine: <to Jerry> "This place sucks."

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Jerry> "And for you, sir? Would you like oil and vinegar?"

Jerry: "No, I'm feeling hungry for some reason. Maybe I better go for the larger vegetables. Put 'em all on."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "We have radishes now, would you like them also?"

Jerry: "No, no radishes. In fact, nothing Subterranean."

Elaine: "Radishes, huh? Are they good?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to Jerry> "Well, 'good' is Subjective, but the radishes have received rave reviews in the 'Times'."

Elaine: "Make mine with radishes."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I can't. Yours is full."

Elaine: "But they're small. Jerry, aren't radishes a small vegetable?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "They are, but you already have two."

Elaine: "Oil and vinegar count as two? I thought that since you said them both together, they only counted as one. I didn't know."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Do olives grow above or below ground?"

Elaine: "I don't know. Jerry?"

<Jerry holds up a dollar bill, and shows Kenny the eagle on the back>

Kenny Mandelbaum: "You're saying that you want it to look like that? Because if you are, I'm going to have to start over."

Jerry: "That's an olive BRANCH. Hey, shouldn't you be in Civics class about now?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: <to both> "Would either of you like Bar-B-Q sauce?"

Jerry: "You already asked that. No."

Elaine: "I thought that you said mine was full. Now there's room for sauce?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I was saving room for the sauce. I already took it into account. If you don't want the sauce, you can have the radishes."

Elaine: "Radishes."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Are you sure? Your friend is getting the Bar-B-Q sauce."

Jerry: "For the fourth time, I don't want the sauce. And she's not my friend."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I thought that you said you wanted all the vegetables. I'm fairly sure that BBQ sauce isn't made in a giant underground factory as part of a Subversive Soviet conspiracy to attack your American eagle and his precious olive 'branch' - if that is what it really is- from below."

Elaine: "Radishes!"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "Okay, but I may have to put them on the side."

Jerry: "Can I have one of those big cookies too?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "There'll be a five minute wait on those."

Elaine: "Couldn't you have put those in while you were making the sandwiches?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "He confused me - I'm new here."

Jerry: "I don't care, I still want one."

Elaine: "What do you mean, I'm not your friend?"

Jerry: "You took the last cookie. I'm sorry, but I guess I'm just not over it."

Elaine: "But you didn't know that when you said you weren't my friend. Oh! Now, I'm confused."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I know. Me, too."

Jerry: "Obviously. Look, would you put the cookies in so they'll be ready when you're done making the sandwiches?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I'm not checked out on the oven. You'll have to wait till the manager gets back. Shouldn't be more than an hour."

Jerry: "I can't believe that anyone would leave you alone for a second, let alone an hour."

Kenny Mandelbaum: "A guy came through and paid with a $100 bill, and we ran out of $5's."

Elaine: "Couldn't you just have used ones or tens instead?"

Kenny Mandelbaum: "I used to be a pharmacist, until that '60 Minutes' crew came by. I'm really good at counting by fives."

Jerry: "Look, forget the cookies, no more vegetables, sauces, drinks, chips or condiments of any kind."

Elaine: "Oh. Its almost One. Do you want to split a cab back to town?"

Jerry: "Nah. Think I'll take the Subway."

<The End>

[Authors Comments: I was at the Subway in Grandview, MO, ordering a roast chicken breast sandwich. The guy was obviously new, although he didn't say so. I remember his nametag was on upside down. He really offered the advice about the oregano bringing out the 'juices' in the chicken. I intended to write a part about the free sandwich punch card part, may still get around to it someday.]


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