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There’s something I’ve been needing to get off my chest for a while now.

I’m sorry I’m not sorry I still like Jimmy John’s even though that picture went around and now I can’t eat my turkey sandwich add provolone cheese and sprouts without thinking about a fat, naked, pasty white dude posing on the back of a dead shark.

In fact, I’ve grown to like Jimmy John’s so much that I went the extra mile and Googled this situation. Is it true?

Is Jimmy John the kind of guy who gets naked in front of the camera with a dead shark?

Can I still like his sandwich in spite of this image forever being part of the deal?

It turns out that no, he is not that kind of guy. Jimmy John says it’s not him; he’s deeply saddened by his chain being tainted by this image; and he’s so sad about it that he’s going to give up big game hunting. Unless he can eat the animal after he kills it.

Up until this summer, I had only had Jimmy John’s once in my life. I was in Flagstaff. I was hangry. It was there and a sandwich sounded good. And it was. I enjoyed the experience, but I didn’t think about Jimmy John’s until a year later, when I found myself in Flagstaff for second time, after my visit to Bearizonia. This time, the whole family was hangry. We wanted sandwiches. The restaurant that Google Maps had promised had sandwiches turned out to be the mini-mart at a campsite and they had a sign that said NO SANDWICHES in the window.

No sandwiches? What. The. Actual. Fuck?

You know who would never have a sign saying “NO SANDWICHES” in their window? Jimmy John’s, that’s who.

So, being the only other restaurant my family knew in Flagstaff, we headed over there and got some damn fine sandwiches. Thank you, Jimmy John’s.

A couple weeks later, I found myself in yet another situation where my family was in desperate need of sandwiches. This time, it was on our home turf in Los Angeles. So we Googled “sandwiches near me,” just in case there was something new, and there it was.

Jimmy John’s was yet again my shining beacon of hope.

That magnanimous man named Jimmy John, whoever he is, saved the day and sealed the deal with those sandwiches. I spent the rest of the summer riding feelings of gratitude towards Jimmy John’s and eating many turkey sandwiches.

And then. That picture re-surfaced. And I realized that the reason I was growing to like this sandwich so much went beyond just gratitude for the restaurant that was consistently able to save my sanity by providing me with reasonably priced sandwiches that everyone in my crew would eat without complaining (more or less).

It was also because Jimmy John’s reminded me of my Wisconsin roots.

I suddenly understood that this fat, rich, shark-humping fucker was from Chicago. And being a sandwich man from Chicago, he definitely must have eaten at Cousins Subs. Jimmy John’s sandwiches were hitting the spot so, so well because they are basically a knock off of my all-time favorite sub shop.

There’s not many things I remember with fondness from my time in Wisconsin (sorry I’m not AT ALL sorry about that, my Midwestern friends and family), but Cousins Subs is one of the things I deeply love about that place. Their sandwiches are little gifts from the gods of sandwich perfection. And I hadn’t found anything beyond the midwest that remotely compares to them until I discovered Jimmy John’s those two fateful times in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Even though I am caught up in this tangled web of feelings that not even a sandwich can straighten out, I am not sorry enough to stop liking Jimmy John’s. I do wish I could just enjoy the sandwich while keeping the side of Wisconsin-based nostalgia and not have to think about a naked fat man humping a dead shark.

You win some, you lose some.

Jennifer Racusin

Jennifer Racusin is a writer with a runaway imagination, an artist making huge bird puppets, and a teacher teaching the future how to think.

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