Monday Night Tacos by Hunt Smith

Monday, September 5, 2022
Hunt Smith's character decides that the best way to react to getting dumped is by getting tacos. 

Image generated with OpenAI
The air between us grew thick, as I saw her fighting the urge to cry. I just wanted to leave. There were too many emotions swirling around us, and it's best to keep these types of things private.

"It's just not working anymore," she said.

That was all the explanation that I needed. Once it's been said, nothing is changing, so there was no need for a drawn-out conversation. Like, I never understood why players felt the need to argue with referees. I've never seen this tactic ever work, and I want to move forward with the game as quickly as possible so I can try and make a play again, but Shelly wanted to argue.

"You've just become so distant, and I can't be in a relationship where I'm the only one sharing," she said.

I'm thinking about getting tacos tonight. Whenever I'm in a bad mood getting tacos seems to help. I'll go get super greasy tacos that stick with you long after you've eaten them. Sometimes, I like getting bad news. It means that I can go get tacos, pizza, or something else that I wouldn't normally allow myself to eat.

"Do you have anything to say?" she asked.

"I'm sure I'll get all of my feelings out when I drunk text you later, so I guess I'm good for now."

The breakup dynamic doesn't really seem fair. If a guy is going to dump his girlfriend then he must take her to some nice, public place in hopes that she won't make too much of a scene, but Shelly can just break up with me in my car. I guess girls care more. It's not that I don't care about Shelly, but I just don't want anyone, even Shelly, to know that I care. Life is safer that way.

"Ok, just drive me home then, I guess."

"Do you mind if we stop and grab tacos first. El Stuffed Pepper closes early on Mondays."

"We just broke up, John! I don't want to grab dinner with you."

"Not dinner, tacos."

"I want to go home!"

"We can grab them to go."


"I'll call ahead. That way it is super quick."

"John, take me home! I want to get out of here"

"It's ringing... Hello... Yes, can I get the Chuy-special with peppers, and... give me one second, sorry," I looked over to Shelly who was starting to lightly sob, "Do you want anything?" She was able to incinerate me with her stare, despite the tear that was gently rolling down her cheek. "Sorry about that," I said to restaurant. "That'll be all."

"You're a jerk!"

"I asked you if you wanted anything."

Shelly toyed with the radio. She had always complained that my car was so old that it didn't even have phone connectivity, but I liked the radio. It felt like I was supporting a dying art form. So, I didn't mind listing to local jewelry store ads in-between hearing the same seven songs 15 times.

El Stuffed Pepper kept Christmas lights strung across their roof year-round, yet they somehow weren't the most festive store on the strip. That award belonged to the Staples which littered its storefront with small Christmas trees and dangling lights. I'm actually not sure how anyone was supposed to enter the store. Not that I knew anyone who frequented Staples anymore.

My order wasn't ready yet when I entered. Apparently, they were in the middle of a dinner rush. I left Shelly in the car. I texted her that it might be a few minutes.

Shelly never cared for El Stuffed Pepper, as she thought frequenting a restaurant because it had a unique name was a stupid way to live your life. She had allowed us to go there once a month, which I thought was a pretty generous offer. I had always tried to line it up so that it was her turn to pay whenever we went. I think that she always thought that I was slighting her somehow by doing this; however, El Stuffed Pepper was by far the cheapest place we went. I tried explaining this to her once, but I don't think that it came out right.

"Sir, your order is almost ready. Thanks for being patient," a waiter said to me, appearing from nowhere.

"Oh, no problem," I said while texting Shelly, or 'Shells' as it was in my phone, that my food would be out in a second.

Across the room, I saw George, Beck, and Travis splitting a pitcher of beer in a booth. They all looked incredibly full; yet Beck still picked at the chips and salsa that lay in front of him. It was this sort of behavior that gave Beck his rotund figure. The others, while notably out of shape, looked as if they could still squeeze into their clothes from high school.

I understood this plight, since college my weight fluctuated with the seasons, growing more robust around the beer drinking holidays.

"Hey John!" Travis yelled out. "How are you doing?"

"Oh, ok," I said. "I just got dumped, thought I'd go get some tacos."

"I'm sorry to hear that," George said. "I thought you and Shelly were a good fit."

"When did this happen?" Beck asked, biting into another chip.

"Just now," I said. "In fact, she's still in the car."

"You left in the car?" Travis laughed.

"She didn't want to come in," I said. "She's never really taken a liking to this place."

"But you thought now was a good time to stop and get tacos?" Travis asked. "Right in the middle of a breakup?"

"Well," I uttered, "El Stuffed Peppers closes early on Mondays, and I was really craving tacos. I feel like I should be allowed this. She broke up with me."

"Y'all are officially done," George said.

"I know, she broke up with me."

"No," George clarified, "I mean there is no way y'all will ever get back together."

"Why would I want to get back together with her? She broke up with me. If she doesn't want to be with me, I don't want to be with her."

"There is always one break up," Beck said. "Girls are funny like that. They want you to fight for them."

"I don't want to fight for her. That sounds like a lot of work."

"Probably a good thing y'all broke up then," Beck said.

The worker at the front desk waved at me. He had a white plastic bag tied around a Styrofoam container in his hand. I said goodbye to Travis, Beck, and George, still confused on why I wasn't entitled to getting tacos after being dumped. I could see them laughing as I left. I understood that it was slightly uncouth for me to turn my mind on tacos so quickly after Shelly broke the news, but I can't be blamed for El Stuffed Pepper's unusually early closing time on Mondays. Shelly should've known to wait until Tuesday. I always crave tacos after receiving bad news. There is something about fighting beef induced stomach pain that reminds me that I will survive.

I paid the $12.32 and walked back to my car. I could see that Shelly was still fuming from across the parking lot. I decided that I would keep my food on my lap, as to avoid any inkling of sabotage.

"Sorry for the wait," I said, opening the door. "They were busier than usual."

Shelly stayed silent. I could tell that she wished for me to try to win her back over, but I saw no need. I played my favorite folksy radio station, which Shelly didn't much care for, and drove slowly and carefully as to not jostle my food too much, which burned in my lap.

"Why are you driving so slowly?" Shelly asked.

"Oh, no reason. Just don't want to be pulled over."

"You are going to have to drop me off eventually, so you might as well hurry up," she said, but I continued driving 5mph below the speed limit.

Despite the radio station blaring, the car felt silent. I knew that Shelly wanted me to say something, not just anything but some exact phrase that might quell the heartbreak. The problem was I didn't know what I could say that would change anything.

"I can't believe that you stopped to get tacos."

"I like tacos."

"Then get them after we've broken up, not during it."

"I was unaware that the breakup was ongoing. Sorry."

"You didn't even fight for me. You didn't want to try convince me that I was wrong."

"You always hated when I said you were wrong."

"This is different."

I nodded and continued driving. Did she want me to tell her that she was wrong now? I opened my mouth to speak but said nothing. Still unsure, it was best to drop her off and not cause any more harm.

We arrived at her house. It was a small one-story house with a gravel lot. Her roommates' cars were here, both of them. In a few moments, Shelly would enter, crying loudly as to announce that I had been an insensitive ass. Unfair, considering that I was the one who got dumped. They would pull out the wine, cry, and then bad mouth me for hours. Fine, I have tacos.

"I will miss you," I said as Shelly exited the car. She nodded and scurried inside. I waited in the driveway for a moment, wondering if I could hear the sobs from outside. I couldn't.

I didn't want to listen to music on my way home. I put the tacos where Shelly had sat. Buckled the seatbelt. Patted it carefully. Drove slowly. Protected the tacos.

I lived alone. My place was a mess. I thought about cleaning, but my stomach grumbled, and I took a dirty fork out of the sink. I scooped the rice, cheese, chicken, and other accoutrements into the warm flour tortilla. I took a bite. I began to sniffle, then sob. I shook it off and stiffened my posture. Took another bite. Then another. Another. Not much left. One more bite. No tacos left. Now, I could cry.


  1. This was a really funny story! This main character really is a jerk. In the dictionary next to the work “Oblivious” is a picture of this character, noshing on a taco. Very humorous indeed, Hunt. Thanks for writing it.

  2. This is excellent - there's so much going on! I like the digression with the friends in the restaurant - established a bit of backstory in a seamless fashion. Very well crafted!

  3. Fantastic story. Easy quick fun read with lots to digest and so many levels as the character development is superb. Great writing Hunt!

  4. I like how the tacos replaced where Shelly was sitting once she left.

  5. Humorous in a sad sort of way. The MC uses the taco ritual to get through difficult times. The one depicted here seems to be of his own making. I think Shelly made a good decision!

    - David H.

  6. Well done, Hunt¨! I enjoyed this funny story.

  7. I want to be John. Rational and weird. I'd substitute peanut butter sandwiches or salted almonds maybe. I might have gotten better at breakups if I had more to breakup.

  8. I think I dated this guy back in the day :) Thanks for a hilarious read, with that little drop of poignancy at the end.

  9. Love the quirkiness of this piece - really well written and great humour!

  10. Nicely done -- excellent characterization of John. Of course, he's a jerk!

  11. John has zero empathy, yet I feel for him. Good story!