SECOND PLACE: Paisley Rainbow and the Chocolate Milk Connection

By Brandon Banks

Paisley Rainbow was a hippie who lived on chocolate milk. 

Now I’m not talking about a “smoke a joint, quote some Kesey, talk about jambands, and wear my tie-dyed tee shirt I bought at the mall” hippie. I’m talking about a “grew that joint, fuck a jamband, I passed Kesey’s acid test, tie-died-in-the-wool, I can’t even get into a mall because of the dress code” kind of hippie.

Well, but then there’s the chocolate milk. And when I say the man lived on it, what I really mean is that he didn’t eat food — at least not very often. 

I one time purposely and silently watched to see exactly how long he’d go between meals. Boone, North Carolina, to San Diego, California — 5 days, 2,371 miles, 6 gallons of chocolate milk. 

And when we did get to San Diego, he didn’t even eat because he was hungry. He ate for artisanship alone, at least that’s what he said.

“You can’t get burritos like this back home, bud. We’re only six miles from Mexico.” He gave me a shrug that kind of said, “what’s a man to do?” before saying, “You’d better get you one.”

I stared at him blankly — was he putting me on? He slapped me on the shoulder and nudged me toward the door, with a pasty grin that seemed to say, “Go ahead, you need this more than I do.”

And so I tore into a burrito because I was hungry as hell, having only eaten sporadically myself — but not Paisley, he took in his burrito like prayer.

He ate with his eyes closed and put it down between every bite. Each chew was slow and deliberate, and he let out exaggerated moans that echoed into the street.

And then he went back to the chocolate milk.