Ultimate Chalupa

So I’m driving by Taco Bell the other day, and the sign outside says, “Ultimate Chalupa.”

Naturally, I’m intrigued. Not just any old chalupa, not even a Really Good Chalupa. They’re selling the Ultimate Chalupa. The end-all be-all of chalupas. How can I pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

So I lane-change across three lanes of traffic and hurry inside. “Do you still have the Ultimate Chalupa?” I ask.

The guy behind the counter gives me a blank look and nods.

I’m so relieved. “Thank god. I’ll take it.”

So I pay my two bucks and change, and step to the side, waiting to them to complete whatever terrifying alchemy is required to produce the Ultimate Chalupa. It takes almost two minutes, so I’m guessing something pretty complex is going on back there.

And all the while I’m thinking: Wow. Ultimate Chalupa. This thing is going to be awesome. It’s going to be the Chalupa equivalent of Optimus Prime.

But just as they’re finishing, someone else steps up to the register behind me. She orders the Ultimate Chalupa too. I felt a little guilty, but also a little smug as I wait for the guy behind the register to explain to her that they’d already sold it.

But get this. He nods and rings up her order! I look over at him, pissed, and say, “What the hell are you doing?”

He gives me a blank look. I think this guy specializes in blank looks.  “What?”

“I already bought the Ultimate Chalupa,” I said. “It’s mine. You can’t sell it to her.”

Another blank look. He buys them in bulk at Costco. He got his associate’s degree in blank look at the local tech. “There’s your Chalupa.” He points at a tray being slid across the counter toward me.

“That’s not the Ultimate Chalupa!” I said, pointing at the woman. “Now she’s got the Ultimate Chalupa!” I slam my hand down on the tray. “This is just the Penultimate Chalupa! That’s not what I ordered! I didn’t pay $2.79 for some fucking Penultimate piece-of-shit Chalupa!”

The conversation spiraled out of control from there. The woman left in tears, and the guy behind the counter eventually used up his vasty store of blank looks, and was forced to use other looks that he wasn’t nearly as skilled with, like confused, irritated, and exasperated. He even had one that might have been flummoxed, but I’m not sure. He wasn’t very good at it, and I don’t think he really knew it was for.

Eventually I produced a Webster’s dictionary and proof that I did, in fact, have a Masters degree in English. This left them with no choice but to throw my ass out of Taco Bell yet again.

I stood in the parking lot and cursed them for a while. Then I climbed up on the sign and found out that someone had left the box of letters there. So I changed the sign to read, “Rather Good but by no means Ultimate Chalupa.”

Unfortunately, that used most of the letters, so my options were limited for the other side of the sign. All I could spell with what was left was, “Taco Bell – Everybody Masturbates on Us.”

Then I left. All in all, I’m counting the experience as a moral victory.


Editor’s note: I actually wrote this back when I was doing the College Survival Guide, but I figured I’d post it up here so people could get a cheap chuckle out of it while I’m busy with revisions.

This entry was posted in BJ Hiorns Art, College Survival Guide, small adventuresBy Pat77 Responses


  1. MarinheiroTX
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

    People are just a bit too free with the word “Ultimate” these days.

    • tetlowgm
      Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

      This is the ultimate comment.

  2. SavvyP
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

    I assume this story is 100% true. If not, please leave me alone in my happy ignorance. (There are few things in life I am content to be happily ignorant about, and this story is too wonderful to believe in anything but its absolute, gospel truth.)

    • Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

      It’s even better than you think: This story is, in fact, 200% true.

      • tetlowgm
        Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

        I’m sure you gave your 110%

  3. Darkside
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

    How did you get to be such a brilliant author?

  4. saintburns
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

    I’m more of a baja chalupa fan. I don’t need the ultimate, I enjoy a Chalupa that’s more laid back and relaxed. Other chalupas can spend all their time trying to be the ultimate. I like a chalupa that acts like it’s always on vacation. Baja steak chalupa, it’s never the ultimate, because it never needs to be.

    • Club Neon
      Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:19 AM | Permalink

      You could say that, it’s a “baja ultimate chalupa.”

  5. Freelancer
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

    Now, Pat. You didn’t really expect an intellectual competent behind the counter of a Taco Bell, did you? Cut the poor guy some slack. It’s the advertising and marketing folks who deserve your ire.

    • SavvyP
      Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

      In *this* economy, I wouldn’t be surprised to find an intellectual competent behind the Taco Bell counter…

      • Widow Of Sirius
        Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

        Very good point. It’s probably some Ph.D. back there who used to be doing research on beef by-products in fast food chains and then got stuck when his grants ran out of money…

        • Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

          Hey now. *I* used to work at Taco Bell.

          • fordified
            Posted August 13, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

            I used to work there too. After quitting, I couldn’t eat Taco Bell food for close to 3 years. But now I’m back to being able to eat their food so long as it’s after noon.

            Also, I too was an “intellectual competent” behind the counter as I was working on my BS degree at the time and now have my Masters. It was nice getting to eat for free for just about every meal in my undergrad.

          • bookworm
            Posted August 31, 2010 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

            Point made…

  6. Chocolate Fanatic
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:12 AM | Permalink

    This is why i want to be a writer. you can do stuff that even rock stars wouldn’t dare do. i mean no rock star would ever want to bring on the wrath of Taco Bell

    • Chocolate Fanatic
      Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

      ah i forgot. Pat keep doing what you do and you’ll always be that guy who wasn’t afraid of Taco Bell in my eyes

  7. Club Neon
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    Odd coincidences in this post which parallel my own life. I once tried to educated a girl working the counter at Dairy Queen. When trying to order a small Arctic Rush, I was informed that they they have no small, the smallest size they offer is “medium.” I told her that isn’t possible. That one cannot have a medium without having something both above and below it. A couple years later, after my boycott ended, I was happy to find that Dairy Queen was once again offering small drinks. One person can make a difference.

    My friends and I were also once kicked out of a mall for changing a sign outside of a coffee shop to read, “Erect slugs masturbate inside.”

    • TheJoke
      Posted August 11, 2010 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

      haha, if a mistake like that would have happened in sweden no one would say anything, just keep our opinion to ourselves and maybe laugh at the stupidity later.

  8. Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:21 AM | Permalink

    Have no fear, faux-Mexican pseudo-food fans: based on this critique, Taco Bell will remake the penultimate chalupa into the New and Improved Ultimate Chalupa — which will of course be neither new nor improved, and certainly not both simultaneously.

  9. kim
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 1:50 AM | Permalink

    hey! i’m from aus where i’m pretty sure taco bel has been felled, as i haven’t seen one in like a decade. so! wanna explain what a chalupa is? and help petition for taco bell’s return to down under?

    • Trillian
      Posted August 12, 2010 at 2:29 AM | Permalink

      I can tell you where 3 Taco Bells in Melbourne are.

      • Achela
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

        i can tell you what *real* chalupa is… and i can also tell you its nothing like the food they sell in taco bell u.u’

  10. Minzetee
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

    Oh wow! You were really desperate, right? xD cool… Taco Bell will go under!

  11. eostogner
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:27 AM | Permalink

    The night I quit my first high school job, I changed the sign outside from “$2.99 all you can eat buffet” to “$2.99 penis buffet.” While not as “ultimate” as Pat’s story, I’m kinda proud of it!

  12. Little My
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:28 AM | Permalink

    Oh, that’s right. . .you have to be done with the WMF draft by September, come hell or high water, I hear. . .

  13. Mickey
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 6:49 AM | Permalink

    Outstanding work Pat ! Yet another reason you are my hero, someone has got to let these heathens know know that lexicography is alive and well….and kicking the grammatical crap out of anyone who darse to make free with the improper use of the English language !!!

    Sometimes I think that all the people left in America that can spell and speak are on this blog. I know thats a huge generalisation and am fully prepared to make humble apologies to anyone that demands one…but it’s hard to watch a nation of gifted creators stand by and watch the tool of Shakespeare and Tolkien being ignored to death.

    Errr….sorry ! Rant over now….HUGE espresso this morning caused to much blood in head…

    • Mickey
      Posted August 9, 2010 at 6:52 AM | Permalink

      Errata : ‘..dares to make..’ and ‘ ..too much blood..’

  14. Mindy609
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM | Permalink

    Thanks, Pat. I needed a good laugh this morning!

  15. Widow Of Sirius
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    Dear Pat,
    You’re my hero. I wish I had been there for this, because it would’ve been epic.
    Also, I’m particularly fond of the word “penultimate” and become giddy whenever someone uses it :)
    <3 Amanda

    • Anna
      Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

      Try antepenultimate anytime. ;-)

      • Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

        I was close to ecstatic when I saw “antepenultimate” used casually and correctly in a linguistics textbook of mine. Apparently it’s a pretty standard word for linguistics — easiest way to talk about stress or other features on the antepenultimate syllable of a word. Generally stress.

  16. Wafaa
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

    Maybe it wasn’t the Chalupa that was ultimate but the recipe? Hence all the Chalupas from that recipe were ultimate :P Although, highly doubtful if it’s from Taco Bell..

  17. metalhobbit
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    The fact that they used to word ultimate seems to me to say that however good the chalupa was, they will never be able to improve on it. Silly advertising. And that’s just using the last definition of “ultimate” in the dictionary.

  18. Robo
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    That’s it. I’m starting up the Ultimate Chalupa Eating Championships. In months I’ll be selling million hit views on PPV. “In UCEC 42, Chris “the Combo Crippler” attacked that Chalupa from the bottom position! Said long time analyst, Gordon “Gordo” Ramsey, “I’ve never seen anyone do a double reverse move to the top that fast! The man is an absolute F%$& donkey!”

  19. Sokol
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    Don’t even get me started on Tall, Grande, and Venti.

    • Posted August 9, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

      Hah, actually I felt the same way until I saw _Role Models_ and found out why ‘venti’ — alone of the three, admittedly — actually makes sense. Classic scene.

  20. seniorwatashi
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    +1 For some reasson I pictured the story as a chapter of the Big Ban Theory

  21. skribe
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

    And I was just wondering where to go for lunch today. Even though this wasn’t a glowing review, all I need is to see “Chalupa” and I, too, will cross 3 lanes of traffic for a quick drive-thru detour.

  22. hanover1316
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:04 PM | Permalink


  23. Skye
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    This sounds like the sort of thing my high school band director would have done. (Except that he would have gone back to the band room and picked up a cherry picker to change the sign, b/c Mr. Rutledge+climbing=heart attack.)

    In fact, I would pay large amounts of money (well, for me, at least), to see the two of you get up to “hijinks” together. The ensuing hilarity would be *well* worth it…

  24. Posted August 9, 2010 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    I can pretty much guess what would have happened if you’d seen the sign at a local McDonalds that read something like “Come in and get the one and only Big Mac”.

  25. IDV
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

    You should be glad you even got a rather good chalupa. We don’t even have Taco Bell in my country :/

    • Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

      You`re not really missing that much.

      • IDV
        Posted August 10, 2010 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

        Yes I am. I tried it when I visited America last year :(

        Or perhaps I liked it because it’s different from the fast food we have here – if I lived in America *permanently*, I probably wouldn’t like it as much as I do.

  26. Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    REALLY wish I`d bought my copy of the College Survival Guide while I had the chance… =(

    • Little My
      Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

      Yah, same here.

  27. Mouse
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Permalink

    All true, but now imagine life without Taco Bell….. I would die of a pizza overdose.

  28. chelsea not clinton
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    Ah the joys of grade D beef. I was curious, does carrying around a dictionary give you an automatic English Master’s degree? :)
    I feel your pain, by the way. Sometimes I am tempted into McDonalds with happy childhood memories and am ultimately let down. Why do they never put the Happy Meals in those cool boxes like the commercials?

    • Skye
      Posted August 10, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

      They still do, sometimes…I always have to sneak them away from my kids, months later–they don’t want to give them up!

  29. cdodds3
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    Pat, I’ve got 5 of your College Survival guides signed by you that I picked up almost a year ago. I didn’t know they were signed until I received them though. Anyway I was wondering if you’d like to take a couple of them for your worlbuilders charity. I’d like some minimal compensation, ie: sign some of my name of the wind hard covers and a promise to send me a signed hard cover of Wise Man’s fears. Anyway if you’re interested let me know how we can work it out.

    • Little My
      Posted August 12, 2010 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

      I can’t do signatures, but if you want to part with a Survival Guide I could send some $$ to you and some $$ also to the next Worldbuilder thingy. I’m sure there are others reading who would do something like that. But maybe going that route doesn’t maximize the $$ for Worldbuilders the way an auction would. . .? And I guess you’re looking for the signatures, or else you could put them up on eBay and then donate the money to Worldbuilders?

      • cdodds3
        Posted August 12, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

        Thanks for the offer, but I’d rather get the autographs. If you’d like to buy one though I did see one for sale on Abebooks.com the only down side is they’re asking $150.00. I figure mine could be better used for getting more people involved in the charity knowing they could get their hands on one of these.

  30. Rob
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 12:13 PM | Permalink

    I fuckin’ hate taco bell.

    God bless Pat Rothfuss. Kudos to you for just letting the hatred flow.

    I used to work at Olive Garden myself. Now I don’t eat there anymore.

    I also have no idea what a chalupa is besides the name of the Chihuahua who lives in my neighborhood. He’s a pesky little beast. He once decided to come after my dog, a 95 pound golden retriever. It gave me reason to send a text message to my girlfriend . . . “Chalupa came after Mel today. Bad move, Chalupa.” She says she laughed out loud when she got the message . . . .

    • Rob
      Posted August 10, 2010 at 12:16 PM | Permalink

      I guess I shouldn’t have capitalized Chihuahua . . . then it refers to the city, not the dog. I’ve been to the city, so I should know better. Freudian slip, I guess . . . .

  31. TangentialMind
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    We’re all *very* grateful for your hard work on the book. Thanks so much for keepin’ us entertained!

  32. Posted August 10, 2010 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    “Wow. Ultimate Chalupa. This thing is going to be awesome. It’s going to be the Chalupa equivalent of Optimus Prime.” Quote of the week, most definitely.

  33. Larzid
    Posted August 11, 2010 at 9:04 AM | Permalink

    If you ever come to Laredo, Texas I’ll serve you a really good chalupa, I don’t promise it will be the ultimate, but I can make it EPIC.

  34. Dianadomino
    Posted August 11, 2010 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    I keep re-reading this and giggling. Sounds like something I would have embarrassed my teens with, when they were teens. It is a rare individual who knows the real meanings of words anymore.



  35. Renee
    Posted August 11, 2010 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    Hello Pat,
    Please forgive me for posting a question completely unrelated to this blog but…
    I just picked up NOTW for a second read and I’m wondering if there are any illustrations of your scrael in existence? While it’s easy enough to imagine an oversized spider, it’s no ordinary spider and I’d love to feast my eyes on a true depiction of the beast.

    Thank you for your time, dedication to your fans, and the amazing story of Kvothe. Sincerely, Renee

  36. Trillian
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 2:36 AM | Permalink

    That is awesome… And reminds me I don’t think I finished my copy of college survival guide…

  37. Constance
    Posted August 12, 2010 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

    Here’s the all important question: Steak or Chicken?

  38. Kay
    Posted August 13, 2010 at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    when I first went to America, I rushed to the nearest taco bell to try new American things. to be honest I was mega disappointed to see just meat and tacos. I seriously didnt no what to expect, but just not what i saw. big let down. but maybe us irish are a bit too picky… and your KFC’s do mash potatoes? crazy!

  39. tilesguy
    Posted August 14, 2010 at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    I like taco bell because it always comes with free diarrhea.

  40. ChaosAthena
    Posted August 14, 2010 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    *Squee!* I just saw today’s Penny Arcade News, and apparently, Tycho is all for the half of Wise Man’s Fear you let him read. I am ultimately excited by his tantalizing description (though at first I was insanely rage-filled-jealous that he got to read it before me, but that passed quickly).

    I can feel my soul becoming suffused with giddy joy at the imminent prospect of The Wise Man’s Fear!

    • Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:42 PM | Permalink

      It’s an apt description. I read the first half of it, and it was loooooong. I just wrapped the second half the other day and it feels twice as long as that, and substantially longer for being the second “half”.

  41. Little My
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    Hey, I just saw a headline that Neil Patrick Harris and his partner are expecting twins! (Not really relevant to the blog, but I thought it might be of general interest.)

  42. salilakab
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat!
    The solution is really easy!
    You must come to Mexico to taste real mexican food and make happy some of your book’s fans in the progress (Yeah! I’m mexican by the way…)

  43. Catalyst
    Posted August 15, 2010 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

    Know you like Felicia Day, it was announced at comic-con that she will be joining Eureka for a 10 episode story arc.



  44. Lax Iguana
    Posted August 16, 2010 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    Those sick monsters, how dare they sell off the greatest chalupa that would ever be concieved by man or God to that…That Whore! I assume after the sign business you then went and performed rituals to curse her family line for all eternity?

    • bookworm
      Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:08 PM | Permalink

      And you also went on to curse the advertising and marketing folks as well as their lines?

      This is important… Maybe if they got a good dose of curse, they’d get the company to buy and make better food!!

      “And so, the Ultimate Chalupa is no more, and Taco Bell went on to make better food. The End.”

      “Wow, that was a great story, Aunty! Too bad it’s not real*sob*”

  45. roomtobloom
    Posted August 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

    I saw this today and wondered if Mr. Troupes had a similar experience to yours. http://www.buttercupfestival.com/2-19.htm

  46. LittleShess
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

    Hilarious. What would hanging out with you for a day be like? In another life you would be a great UNIX admin.

  47. Sparky Z
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink


    How does it feel to be finished with Wise Man’s Fear?

    (I’m assuming because of what you wrote at the end of this post: https://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/2010/08/locus-magazine/)

  48. mihosama
    Posted September 13, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    So this is my first time to this site and I want to get the gushy stuff out of the way right off the bat. “Freaking loved your book! I’ve read it three or four times, still can’t put it down. Can’t wait for the next one, but I totally get the tweaking of language and just little things in the book you wanna fix..yadda yadda :) ” Ok now thats that out of my system here is my question.

    Do you have any other books written or is Name of the Wind the first?

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