WARNING: What I’m about to describe may startle you. It may horrify you.
“How?” you ask. “What could she possibly say to surprise me after all this time?”
I’m Allison Sanchez after all, I’ve never faced a rock bottom I couldn’t tunnel past. I’ve walked the streets, trading hot, hot egg sandwiches for cash. I’ve wandered into seedy nightclubs and snorted line after line of French fry seasoning. More than once I’ve taken body shots of BBQ sauce off of the pale, chalky stomach of Ronald McDonald while Mayor McCheese watched. And sure, I just recently got out of foreign prison for trying to smuggle nuggs in a hollowed out statue.
My time in the clink was particularly rough. A fictional Claire Danes-like character was there for similar crimes. We became friends, a support system of sorts in that dark place. And then I killed her with a shiv made from a toothbrush to get my hands on some limited edition Szechuan sauce.
Sorry, Danes, there was only one packet and it was sure as hell going to be mine.
Was it horrible? Of course. Do I shriek in abject terror every time I look in a mirror because Claire Danes’ ghost stares back at me, pointing a single, accusatory finger as the words, “YOU’LL PAY” appear above my head, written in blood? Well, yes, naturally that’s going to happen. In fact, I have to keep a whole paper towel roll in there and some off brand Windex because I’m constantly having to clean blood off the mirror. It’s pretty inconvenient. I even had to buy a step stool because the blood-drenched words are too high to reach sometimes. And it’s a small bathroom. Where am I supposed to keep a stool, you know? I end up keeping it in the hallway and I have to constantly open the door and let the steam out to get my bloody message stool, and then I get cold. It’s really become a whole thing.
But I could handle all of that. Until..my latest ranking. Because this time? Things. Went. Too. Far. And what happened to me is symptomatic of the frightful toll in which our nation’s youth are being destroyed by a true menace. And it is necessary to describe the following events in graphic, sickening, saucy, cheesy, mouthwatering detail.
Because Meatball subs — a violent and dangerous meat product and an unspeakable scourge upon common decency — are public enemy number one. They ruined my life, and they could ruin yours. You think tide pods are bad? You think youth sex is bad? You think all the kids with their texting and snap chatting and organizing of an articulate movement for reasonable gun control measures is bad? Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Because like young teens all over America — of which I am definitely still one (just ask anyone, except my parents or the social security office or whoever issued my driver’s license or my high school science teacher or anyone who has ever met me, and they’ll tell you I’m 16) — I’ve started on the sauce.
Tomato sauce over meatballs on bread, that is. And that sandwich has led me to uncontrollable laughter, dangerous hallucinations, physical violence, and finally, INCURABLE INSANITY. This is my story. Along the way I’ll let you know which fast food meatball subs are the best, but God, I hope you don’t eat any of them. You have a lot to live for. Like I did…once.
Our rating system today will be the number of jazz playing jazz boys hiding in the closet eating a meatball sub and thinkin’ about jazz, man.
Tied for 5. Subway
It started at Subway (Doesn’t everything? It’s certainly where most of us were conceived). The subs at Subway have been my jam for a very long time. Delicious treasures that I get on lunch breaks or from combo gas station/Subways off of major highways. Fuel your car while you fuel your body and soul? Yes, please!
At first, I didn’t think Subway was all that dangerous. It’s not like I was gonna eat meatballs. It was just a few cold cuts here and there. So, when a bunch of kids at the milkshake shop said they were going there for a little dancing, I thought, “Hey, what can it hurt?”
I walked in, smoke billowing out into the street as I opened the door.
“Have a cigarette!” said a woman wearing lingerie, while splayed atop a grand piano, sandwiched between several construction workers gnawing on five dollar footlongs.
“I don’t know if I should,” I muttered, eyes on my feet. “I do love cigarettes because they’re good for my constitution and known to be healthy, but I can’t tell the difference between a meatball sandwich and a smoke! What if you trick me?”
“Why would I do that?” She asked, handing me the cigarette. She seemed trustworthy. I lit it and began smoking the chewy cigarette that had two white pieces of bread, marinara sauce, provolone cheese, and balls made of beef. It seemed okay to me. Normal. So I opened my mouth and put the cigarette in, bit by bit. Immediately I could tell something was wrong. I felt weird. I started laughing and laughing and laughing. I couldn’t stop. Just kept laughing.
That’s when I realized: She’d switched the pack of cigarettes for a 12-inch submarine sandwich. I was practically a lost cause already.
As for the taste:
The sub’s bread was soggy and the meatballs were small and chewy. They didn’t put enough sauce on it. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT AFTER THE MEATBALLS HAVE BEEN PLACED, ONE SHOULD DRIZZLE AN EXTRA SPOONFUL OF SAUCE ON TOP BEFORE LAYING ON THE CHEESE. This was a mistake that resulted in a sandwich with dry bits of beef crumbling in my mouth like I was eating a cup full of gravel. Albeit, delicious gravel.
For it was delicious. All meatball subs are. I had just started down a dangerous path. One that would lead to many more meatballs.
Ranking: One jazzy jazz player huffing on the good stuff: Very processed MEAT.
Tied for 5. Blimpie’s
I’d never had Blimpie’s before. I didn’t even think it was real before this challenge. I thought it was made up as a 30 Rock joke. Lutz’ favorite place.
But it exists alright. I had my Blimpies the same day I had my Subway, one after another in an orgy of beef product and shame. My true love was off studying somewhere, eating chocolate chip cookies, a regular American grilled cheese, and waiting for me. But I missed our date. I lost track of time as I bit into the sweet, sweet meatball sub.
And here’s the thing. IT TASTED EXACTLY LIKE SUBWAY. There was literally no difference that I could perceive. I honestly think every Blimpies and Subway are connected by a tunnel to one kitchen. It didn’t matter that I’d already eaten a whole sub. I ate another….gladly.
My fate was sealed now. I’d abandoned the wholesome crush, and now I only loved meatball subs. Only talked to meatball subs. Only kissed meatball subs. People kept saying things like, “Hey. What’s wrong with you? Why are you licking a sandwich like that? It’s freaking everyone out. No. No. Don’t kiss it again. You need to leave. No. It’s not because you and the sandwich are being ‘too sexy.’ It’s because you’re rolling around on the ground and you’re getting sauce all over and people could slip. It’s a liability at this point.”
Ranking: Still one jazz player. It’s the same sandwich. I would bet a million dollars on this. It’s like how there’s only one Hemsworth and it’s clearly Chris but Liam is an alter-ego he invented to be able to use “1 per customer free burrito” coupons at Chipotle and things got out of control when people asked Liam to start doing movies. And he was just so scared that Chipotle would ban him for life that he had to go along with it. And now, he cries at night, alone in his bed, curled up in a fetal position because he doesn’t think there’s any way to end it that won’t result in his own death.
Subway doesn’t know how to tell people that Blimpie’s was just like a joke. And now it’s too late.
I didn’t have enough money for a sandwich. My bank account was hovering at zero from all the sandwiches I had already consumed. This is not a joke. I ACTUALLY overdrew my bank account buying a meatball sandwich from Quiznos and I genuinely feel shame at where I’m at in my life. But I needed that meatball sandwich and no man, woman, child, or credit union was going to stop me.
Quiznos had the most flavorful ground meat concoction of all the sub places I tried. If you were just eating a straight up meatball — nothing else involved — then you’d probably pick Quiznos as the winner. But I have to look at the whole submarine sandwich in this case and also the fact, that I accidentally checked rosemary parmesan bread in Postmates and It. Was. Disgusting.
Plus, the sauce was really bland. Overall, not the best sub.
Rating: Three jazz musicians in the closet eating meatballs subs. Which is truly a metaphor for life, isn’t it? Because think of it. We’re all just a trio of jazz musicians at a gig playing a tune and then eating a meatball sub. Get it now? Life is like three jazz musicians in a closet, eating meatballs: You never know what you’re gonna get. Except meatballs.
Wow, it’s just really thought-provoking, right? Sorry to BLOW YOUR MIND.
3. Jersey Mike’s Subs
At this point, my need for meatballs had become truly insatiable. So I borrowed a car from my friend to drive to the nearest Jersey Mike’s. I couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop until I got that meatball sub. Not even for stop lights. As I struck a pedestrian all I could think about was marinara and beef and pork. I just kept driving. And there were more. I hit person after person with my car in an obsessive need for my next fix.
“It’s actually taking more time to purposely swerve into us!” some of the people yelled. Who knows what they meant by that.
When I got to Jersey Mike’s I was overcome by the atmosphere. Blocks of vague meat product like “hot ham” were in a case, (not even presliced!). It was like an actual hot ham deli in an actual city and not a possible hallucination I was having due to some sort of mad cow disease which I had definitely contracted by that point.
My Jersey Mike’s sub was very good. At first bite, I was overcome with how delicious the bread was. And then I thought that on the second bite and then the third. Good bread…which was a problem. The sauce was okay but the meatballs didn’t have enough flavor to not be totally overpowered by the bread. Also, they didn’t warm the cheese enough. Nobody likes disconnected cheese that slides right off the bread as if it’s sliding out of bed after a one night stand — just trying to get its pants on and get out the door before the bread wakes up and asks if they should go to brunch.
Rating: Four Jazz playing men in a closet eating meatball sub after meatball sub while they hide from the creepy masked serial killers in the cabin they rented for the weekend. Right now the murderer in the little girl mask with the pigtails is trailing a knife along the wall while singing “London Bridge is Falling Down” before she like stabs into the closet, and so the jazz men might as well eat some subs in a hurry.
2. Potbelly Sandwich Shop
The hallucinations started to get worse. I became feverish with meatball sweats and a crazy look in my eye. I was angry, all right. I was pushing over everything. Shopping carts, Post Office boxes. The Rockettes during their Christmas special. Everything good in the world, I shoved it over.
What happened next is hard to talk about. But I thought I saw my true love involved with another. It was a mistake of course. He was just eating a piece of pizza. But in my meatball fueled haze I thought that the pizza was a woman named Mel, who owned a couple of Crossfit studios, and loved documentaries, and could have been an Olympic contender skier if not for that knee injury when she was 16.
I flew into a rage. I was just trying to punch Mel in her smug pepperoni covered face, but my hand slipped and landed on an antique sword and then I fell and picked up the sword and then tripped, stabbed my love with that sword 73 times, and put his body in a trunk to dispose of him. It was all just a stupid accident due to an overdependence on meatball sandwiches. And a story all too common. As the police handcuffed and pulled me away they shook their heads.
“Another good kid lost to meatballs who used an 18 thousand dollar antique sword to murder the one they loved most in the world after mistaking a piece of pizza for a 27-year-old brunette named, Mel” they said. “Real shame…..story old as time.”
Point being: Potbelly meatball subs are surprisingly good. I didn’t have one this week, I had to dig into the darkest recesses of mind to find the memories of what they tasted like in the Midwest. And I dug deep alright. What I found was a maze filled with apparitions of all my greatest fears around every bend. But I also found the taste of a Potbelly meatball sub. So…
They have good bread that compliments rather than overtakes the meatballs. The meatballs are tasty, and the gooey melted cheese, well done. It’s a good sub.
Rating: 5 jazz players living their best lives with meatball subs. Just playing jazz and eating subs and never thinking about the fact that we all have demons waiting just past the next corner.
1. Which Wich
God, this sandwich is good, I thought as the trial started. I was on trial for murder and you know, convicted by a jury of my peers, and put on death row (which is where I am now), and it all was because of the meatball subs blah blah blah. But the Which Wich meatball sub is pure perfection and totally worth it. Juicy meatballs, a garlicky sauce with just a little bit of kick, cheese that clings to the meatball and bread in the exact right way, and just a general delight that fills you with every bite.
Starting this journey, I didn’t know what I’d find. Incurable insanity, murder, being put in prison and sentenced to death, those were all part of it, of course. But I guess at the end of the day, what I really found was love. Because when you love the person who you are, you can take on any challenge. Be your own best friend, you know? Eat your own human hair. Live like you’ve never hurt hundreds of people through your horrific actions. Dance like your feet are on fire and you can fly to the moon and climate change doesn’t exist, it was made up by Santa Claus to get the reindeer to go faster and Miley Cyrus is a robot. At the end of the day, that’s what I learned. There’s no place like home.
Rating: All the jazz men eating subs. Meatball subs, actual submarines, subtraction tables, subs from a sex dungeon, retired teachers who just want something do one or two days a week, subterranean bunkers… All of them. Eaten. Right down their gullets.