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July 14th, 2003

Krispy Kreme and the Archivist.

Readers of this journal might have noticed that when I want to lie some, I'll slip into using capitals. Astute readers may have also noticed that some of these lies have a backbone of truth to them, such as a party, or a market research gig. Today, to be confusing, I am presenting you with the Krispy Kreme Adventure, which, despite its capitals, is as true as I keep anything.

So.

Krispy Kreme, the American doughnut (from here on spelt donut) chain has arrived in Sydney. It opened some time in June, and national conscience suddenly became aware of the fact that they've been sucking back inferior donuts for years. At least, this is what occurred to J., who, running out the time in a decommissioned job with decreasing responsibilities and work, was so caught up in the donut like possibilities presented to him that he was using his Internet time to look at donuts online, and then print them out on the colour printer at work, and hand them around to his friends.

When shown the Krispy Kreme website, I was taken by the sheer variety of donuts that one could have, but I wasn't exactly drooling at the prospect. But, like I said, variety, and I didn't have to work on the weekend due to school holidays, so a trip up into Penrith for some donuts seemed like something to do. Perhaps I was caught up in J's excitement, or perhaps, and more likely, I'm one of those guys who is easily convinced to join any kind of road trip. And while I hesitate to use the term road trip for a thirty minute car drive, it was for donuts, and I don't think it's wrong for me to use the term.

Penrith, for those who don't live in Sydney, is the ass end of the city, where the endless sea of suburbia ends, and the Blue Mountains begin about fifteen minutes later. Despite this, there's a rather sizeable mini-metropolis existing out there, sprung up around Penrith Plaza, and the Penrith Leagues Club, and it are these things that mark it as the edge of Sydney. If you decide to push on up into the Blue Mountains, you'll find winding roads, still burnt trees, shitty little suburbs where people are trapped in a fashion bubble called 1992, and then you'll peak and run on out into the country, where places like Orange and Dubbo will appear in an endless stretch of yellow and dust, mapped out by the black lines of telephone wires.

(There will be folks that tell you that the country isn't all like this, and in fairness, it's not. But there's a drought turning the world out there brittle, and Australia becomes a naturally harsh and dry place the further you drive into it, so as snapshot descriptions go, I'll hang onto mine, thankyou very much.)

To reach Penrith from the centre of Sydney, all that is required is for the driver to drop onto the M4, and slowly push your car up into a hundred and thirty by the time you're past Blacktown. I'm not sure if J. (or, more likely, M., who was driving) did this, because by the time Saturday rolled around, we'd blown out from one car going to get donuts to a second, and when I hit the M4 just past Blacktown, I was doing the aforementioned one thirty. Despite this, I was overtaken by countless motorists, including one motorbike who decided he'd lean back and throw a wheelie at about a hundred and sixty, thus proving what kind of thrill-seeker he was.

The M4 skirts the edges of Sydney past Blacktown, and so on the view out there is mainly of yellow fields, cemeteries, one theme park and a university, leaving not much to do but speed. There was a craze a few years back, where kids would climb onto one of the overpasses with rocks, and toss them down into the oncoming traffic, punching them through the windshields of speeding motorists of all kinds. If I remember correctly, this resulted in one woman dying rather painfully, when two kids lifted this huge slab up and over the wall, and which took out the driver's half of the windshield. After that, the local government had a bit of newspaper pressure leveled at them when a flood of articles burst out, painting the M4 as a highway of death, where delinquent children manned the overpasses, taking people out even five minutes in a rain of stone throwing death. The end result, naturally, saw kids who had never thrown a thing over the pass decide that they would for a laugh, and saw some of the more creative ones toss a jar of acid into some poor sods car; the other part of the result was that the government put up wire fences, and now it's all safe for us speeding motorists, thank god.

The one and only Krispy Kreme store in Sydney is located across from Penrith Leagues Club. The Leagues club is what Sydney had instead of casinos, before they arrived a while back, and subsequently, you can still go in there and find a huge room dedicated to pokies. Pokies are big in Sydney: you'll find them in every local pub, RSL, Leagues club, and I reckon they're about as interesting as watching Big Brother or paint dry. The Penrith Leagues Club is also home to the Penrith Panthers, a local football team, and the club is known by the local moniker of Panthers, and has, despite the floor of pokies, become a bit of a family arena, with a floor dedicated to videogames, pool tables, and a TAB so that every member of the family can have something to do. There's also an aqua golf range out the back, where you can smack some golf balls out into a man made lake for no real purpose except to see how far you can get it. (But then I've never seen the point in golf, so I'm biased.) As a building itself, it's a big, dirty white building with a huge carpark, that, across from it, holds a McDonalds and now Krispy Kreme.

When I arrived at Krispy Kreme, there was a line stretching out the door. There was also a line at the drive-thru, which had been turned into a maze of metal railings that held at least twenty cars. J., M., and D. were already in line, and when C. and I arrived, we slipped in front of about ten people, but were still outside. Now, due to a streak a rationality in me, I believed that Krispy Kreme must have just opened, and that these people had been waiting with a bit of flawed logic for it to do so. But no. This was not the case.

Krispy Kreme is 24 hours. It never closes.

To jump ahead, slightly, I was there at Krispy Kreme and Panthers for about two hours, and the line, not once, disappeared. For the entire time I was there, it stretched out the door, and there was, at least, a twenty minute wait to get yourself some donuts if you went in on foot. I have no idea how long that line of cars had people waiting, but it never disappeared either. Now, facing this with the cold light of reality, I am forced to conclude that either a) the entire population of Penrith is hooked on Krispy Kreme in a global conspiracy that forces them to buy donuts every day, or b) people from all over Sydney are traveling to Krispy Kreme for donuts. Because I knew that five people traveled at least half an hour, I find myself leaning towards answer b.

D., caught up in the insanity in his own fashion, had brought his digital camera to take photos. He took photos of the line, and if it's possible, I'll whack one up here so that you can all have a looksee.

While waiting in the line, we came across two attractive girls with a helium can and some balloons. J. went to snag one for M., and was told that no, they were only for children, which I found a bit suspect. I'm not saying that these girls had something against two men in love and who want to share balloons, but... well, I'm fairly sure that had I shown up there with my girlfriend, I wanted a balloon, then they would have given me one while laughing and succumbing to the charm of grown adults wanting balloons to share their love. Their heterosexual love, that is. Now, as I said, I'm not saying we ran into small minded girls with a helium tank in the Krispy Kreme line at the edge of Sydney, but who doesn't give balloons out when it's their job?

There was also a clown. D. maintains that he was a street performer, but the whole colourful costume, the red nose, the unicycle, these things speak to me as the tools of a clown, not a street performer. It's a shame that this clown didn't set himself on fire or cut himself with his swords, but then I've always found the majority of clowns to be highly annoying and deserving of a good swift kicking.

About five minutes after the clown's arrival, we made it through the doors of the Krispy Kreme, where we could watch the endless procession of donuts being made, and dead eyed Krispy Kreme employees pulling out the donuts that didn't meet the standard. You know, those that didn't cook all the way through, or came out with syringes, rat heads, and in the shape of Jesus's caucasian face.

While standing in the line, we were given glazed donuts. Now, I've never had a glazed donut before, and in fact, believe that it is only Krispy Kreme that coats their donut so liberally with sugar in the country, and when the resulting blockage that is in my arteries from this glaze kills me in the years to come, will instruct my children to sue the entire corporation. My friends loved this glaze, but I've got to be honest and say it was a bit too much for me.

But at the time I was munching away on a donut, I noticed something else in Krispy Kreme: people were buying boxes of donuts. Not one, not two, and not with a cup of coffee. No. They were buying them in boxes, in trays, and they were buying them in pairs, or fours, or half a dozens, and then struggling out into the winter sunlight under the weight of their gains.

And when we reached the part where we could order our donuts, we too ordered boxes. I can only speak for myself, but I ordered a tray of the assorted donuts, which number twelve, because I wanted to try the flavours, and knew that I wouldn't be returning any time soon to partake in American Imperialism in the form of a donut chain. Of course, it should also be pointed out, that I hardly got to eat any of these, as after I returned home, a procession of people claiming to be deprived of good donuts have made their way through my kitchen like a plague of locusts brought forth by God himself. This God, I imagine, is waving a little American flag and wearing a Krispy Kreme t-shirt, and receives a kickback for doing what he does.

Taken collectively, I can honestly say that the five of us easily spent one hundred dollars.

To finish up this sordid little journey, I have this to offer: I ate one donut there, and then whacked them into the boot of my car, and went and hung around Panthers for two hours, playing videogames and pool. Then I drove home and had a donut. It had not diminished from being in the car for three hours. The following day, I ate another. Again, it had not diminished.

This morning, I ate the last donut.

It tasted exactly as the first one, three days prior. I think it's the glazing, but you can make of it what you will.