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The Daily Tar Heel

Office DJ: Smooching in a Cook Out parking lot

Mary King

Mary King is the audience engagement editor for the 2020-2021 school year.

It's a soggy August evening in a year that isn't 2020. The cicadas are shrieking; your significant other's car engine is softly rumbling.

You'd think the oppressive humidity would relent past sunset, but this is North Carolina — so, at 9:14 p.m., sweat is still gluing your thighs to the passenger seat. The salty-sweet scents of hushpuppies and quesadillas drift up from the Styrofoam containers stacked by your flip-flopped feet.

You look to your left. There, in the driver's seat, your beloved gazes at you. Their eyes twinkle, reflecting the passing headlights from the Cook Out drive-thru behind.

You lean to nestle your head on their shoulder. But alas! Your attempt to canoodle is blocked by the car's armrest, which carries two stout white cups. Your Cheerwine float is tucked snug beside your dearest one's caramel fudge milkshake.

The latter drink has bubbled up slightly through the lid, and that dribble of milkshake binds the little paper receipt ($12.49) to the cup — just as Cupid has bound your heart to your sweet one.

As soon as the pickup truck in the adjacent parking spot backs out of sight, your darling cranes their neck in your direction. Your stomach flutters — maybe it's love, or maybe it's just the Cajun fries in action. Either way, you lean in.

But wait. Something's missing, you realize. Any North Carolinian worth their "First in Flight" license plate knows you can't play tonsil hockey in a Cook Out parking lot without an eclectic Spotify shuffle of mushy singer-songwriter ballads.

You hook your phone up to the aux. Romantic jams flood the car, drowning out the drive-thru traffic and the crackly "Can I take your order" intercom. Now, you can get to work.

P.S. In the era of COVID-19, be sure to smooch safely! Here's some guidance from Harvard Medical School.

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