No one goes to Friendly’s anymore. Honestly, I don’t know how they stay in business.
No. One. Goes. There.
But still, you see the restaurants all over the place, parking lots empty except for a few battered Fords and some wind-blown litter, slatternly waitresses hanging out by the back door smoking cigarettes, a few families ducking in for their Fribble fix.
So they tinker with the menu, in the hope of finding some magical new combination that will bring the franchise back to relevancy.
Witness: The Soft Pretzel Bacon Burger. That’s right, they’ve done away with the bun and replaced it with . . . a very soft, pillowy even, pretzel.
As it turns out, I immortalized Friendly’s in Bystander. Go ahead, turn to page 44. Eric is out with his mother and younger brother, Rudy.
They are eating lunch at Friendly’s.
“How come the pictures on the menu look so much better than the real food?” Rudy wondered.
“It’s called advertising,” Eric told his little brother. “They try to trick you into buying the frozen clams casino. You’d be better off sucking on the menu.”
Of course, I wrote that scene before the innovation of the new Soft Pretzel Bacon Burger. Or else it would have been an entirely different book. Sort of like, I don’t know, imagine The Phantom Tollbooth in the age of cell phones. Different, right?