One time. I said “I love doughnuts” one time. It was a simple, off-the-cuff remark. I don’t show up at the Bunny Ears office wearing doughnut t-shirts. I don’t throw doughnut parties. One time, I happened to express a perfectly normal admiration for doughnuts while eating a doughnut at the office, and Mack overheard it. Suddenly, I’m “Doughnut Boy.”
Every day, it’s “Hey, Doughnut Boy, you eat any good doughnuts lately?” or “Hey, Doughnut Boy, we’re ordering food for lunch. Do you want anything? Before you ask, they don’t have doughnuts.” I don’t know if Mack does this to everyone he meets or if there was something about me that invited him to project this identity onto me. His nicknames for the other Bunny Ears staff certainly seem more thoughtful. When he learned one writer lives in Alberta, he started calling him “Birney” after Earle Birney, a notable Canadian poet.
“Someday, you’ll be remembered alongside him as one of the great literary minds of Calgary, Alberta,” Mack said.
“What’s the most doughnuts you ever ate at once?” he asked me. “Was it 100?”
Mack was in Denver for a few days—he said he wanted to cliff dive at Casa Bonita, which they insisted this was a liability issue—and he asked me to show him around. “Hey, Doughnut Boy. I bet you know all the great doughnut spots in town. What’s your favorite doughnut?”
Now, in retrospect, I realize that having an answer so readily prepared did nothing to distance myself from the identity he’d crafted in his mind. But I couldn’t help it: The Old Dirty Bastard at Voodoo Doughnut is the best that a doughnut can be. A raised doughnut topped with chocolate frosting, crumbled Oreos, and peanut butter, it is the standard by which all doughnuts would be judged if it wasn’t obvious that they would all fall laughably short. [Portland-born editor’s note: The Voodoo Doll is clearly superior.]
I said all of this to Mack. “Classic Doughnut Boy,” he chuckled to himself.
When we arrived at Voodoo Doughnut, it was clear that Mack had, unbeknownst to me, made preparations in advance. They were waiting for us with three large boxes. The first, to my immense joy, was filled to the brim with ODBs, that beautiful, perfect treat. The second contained an enormous doughnut bearing our site’s logo. In the third was a massive doughnut brandished with an eerily accurate representation of Mack’s face. It was much larger than any human head and weighed several pounds. When Mack saw this, he laughed in a way that felt strange at the time. It was a wicked laugh, a harsh winter gale snapping dry branches.
His laughter echoed still, somewhere in the marrow of my bones, the wrongness of it haunting me as we drove in silence to the hotel. I pulled up to the door, and he exited, leaving behind those towering boxes, that terrible obelisk. I called out “Mack, don’t forget your donuts!” That cruel laughter, but brief this time; the bark of a dog’s last unheeded warning before its jaws close around your throat.
“Your donuts. Eat them, Doughnut Boy. Eat them all.”