Until Thursday night, I had never eaten at Chick-fil-A.
The politics of marriage had nothing to do with this choice. Fast food just isn't for me, and neither are chicken sandwiches. But in Chick-fil-A's case, I found the chain's spelling habits in ads to be bothersome: Eat Mor Chikin. Or so says the cow.
Supporting this purposeful abuse of the language grated on me - so I ate elsewhere.
But that was before Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwiches became culture war symbols, so, of course, I had to check it out. I had to taste the sandwich that has become a beacon for marriage between a man and a woman.
Only in America.
In some ways, I guess, we are lucky to have this problem.
A quick detour: I would bet most people don't agree with me on gay marriage. When states vote on the issue, I'm usually on the losing side.
When straight people ask me about gay marriage, I say, "Relax, it's no big deal. They don't want to marry you. They want to marry each other."
And I look forward to the day it is no big deal. But I also don't expect to change anyone's mind here. Not today. Not when we are armed with Bible references (or the lack of Bible references) and Facebook posts and chicken sandwiches and whatever else to make our arguments. We've all pretty much made up our minds.
Instead of arguing, I place my faith in time.
Because over time, we will all know and care about someone who is gay (chances are you already do): children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, cousins and so on down the line. And this knowledge just makes it so much harder to tell people they have no right to marriage.
At my own recent wedding, it felt so uneven to have friends in the crowd cheering us on, even though they are not allowed to marry each other here.
But back to the chicken.
The Chick-fil-A at El Con Mall was packed Thursday night. The drive-through was about nine cars deep, and there were maybe 50 or 60 people inside.
It was hard to tell who was there for marriage, and who was there strictly for the chicken. And as I waited, I found myself guessing. The scruffy teenager in the tie-dyed shirt? He was probably just there for the chicken. But the big man with a shiny bald head? He looked like he was hungry for political statements.
But who knows. It's all just a guessing game. Most people weren't coming out and stating their political beliefs.
Maybe being there was enough.
The line was about seven or eight people deep, and the man in front of me joked that he was a holdover from the day before when it was "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," which brought record-setting sales for the chain.
Clearly, he was there for the politics - but then again, maybe he was just trying to make the best of the wait in line? Unsure, I nodded.
When I was finally called next, I ordered a spicy chicken sandwich, some waffle fries and a Diet Dr Pepper. It cost $6.71.
Many people have told me they like Chick-fil-A's waffle fries, but I found them bland.
I pulled the spicy chicken sandwich out of the bag and felt a twinge of disappointment.
It was small. Much smaller than the picture on the menu. I peeled back the bun, but there was nothing divine or inspirational there. Just a pickle.
The sandwich had the twang of buffalo wing sauce with a slight kick at the end that made my throat scratch.
It didn't tell me anything new about marriage, but it tasted OK. Like I said before, chicken sandwiches aren't my thing, but I could see why people liked the food.
"Mmmm, I love Chick-fil-A," a woman said as she walked by me and headed out the door.
She said it with such gusto and satisfaction, I couldn't help but wonder: Did she really love Chick-fil-A that much, or did she love what the restaurant now stands for?
Sitting there, surrounded by ads with intentionally tortured spelling - "Nu dessertz make chikin that much sweeter" - I felt the sad and heavy weight of absurdity.
A chicken sandwich is now a symbol for traditional marriage. People are proudly celebrating inequality through the monument of fast food.
Only in America.
Contact Brodesky: 573-4242 or email@example.com On Twitter: @joshbrodesky