We really did think twice about stealing the air hockey equipment. No shit, the game room at the Bunny Hutch Novelty Golf And Batting Cage Recreation Extravaganza is the place to go to be scared straight and also to get your sex tested. I recommend it wholeheartedly. But okay, I think we’re done with the weekend trips and with all our kitschy cavorting for the moment. No kidding, it was getting to be like the Monkees opening credits around here. It is time to take off the dorky legionnaire hats and focus, people. Or at least clean stuff. I did a lot of that this weekend, too.
And since I’m cleaning out my closet, let me tell you about my thing with McDonald’s and how I went there for the first time in forever last week. Because I still crave McDonald’s sometimes: these days I go for months and months without going there, but when it comes down to it, I still seriously dig the stuff. O McDonald’s food, you taste so red and yellow and awesome. I love how the cheeseburgers are not “cheeseburgers” so much as they are warm soft ketchuppy pickle pillow pies; I love the fries, even though I read Fast Food Nation and know they’re made from potato starch and holograms. I understand, and yet I want; so once in a great while I give in and answer the clowny call of Clan McDonald. So the other day I went to the drive-thru.
I used to do this a lot more often. Back when I did Weight Watchers, I learned that the contents of a McDonald’s Happy Meal amounted to something like eleven POINTS (not too bad, considering), so I ate Happy Meals. Though it should be said I would have also eaten endangered baby pandas braised in orphan tears if Weight Watchers had told me they were twelve POINTS or less, and this is one reason why I had to stop doing Weight Watchers. But never mind that: there was a time when I ordered a lot of damn Happy Meals. Enough to get over the dopey irony of the enclosed toy. Like at first when I’d order and they’d ask if the toy was for a boy or a girl, I thought it very whimsical and joie de vivre of me to yell “I’m a GIRL!” at the drive-thru speaker box. La la la! But then I’d have this shitty little gender-informed trinket, a Bratz doll or a tiny copy of Cosmo or whatever, and it would sit in my car until I threw it out. And try giving a friend’s kid a cheap toy from a Happy Meal he/she didn’t eat. It’s awkward and poignant. The bad kind of poignant. I suppose I could’ve just ordered the hamburger and the small fries and soda without ordering the Happy Meal, but that would’ve broken the sacred and pathetic contract I had with myself wherein I was allowed to eat at McDonald’s as long as it wasn’t a fully grown-up decision. Yeah, I know.
Eventually I made a point to just avoid getting the toy. But this is harder than you’d think, especially when most of my McDonalding consisted of furtive drive-thru visits. “Boy or girl for the Happy Meal?” the speaker box would ask. I tried saying, “No toy, please,” or, “I don’t need a toy,” or “You can leave out the toy,” but it almost never worked. Maybe it’s because the McDonald’s drive-thru employees expect to hear one of only two answers and don’t really know what to do when presented with a None of The Above, so they either ignore it or mishear “no toy” for “boy.” Oh, and then another problem was that I was going to McDonald’s too fucking much, so I stopped going.
I’d pretty much forgotten all about the toy problem until the other day, when I ordered a Happy Meal out of old habit. This time, I decided, I would really put my foot down about the toy thing. Because, really, it was bad enough that I was eating McDonald’s and the last thing I wanted was another creepy souvenir. “Is that Happy Meal for a boy or a girl?” the drive-thru voice asked.
“Okay, look, I don’t need the toy. It’s just for me. Please don’t put one in. I’ll just throw it out. No toy. None. Okay?”
There was a long pause. “Oh, okay,” the drive-thru box said. Some odd code came up on the LCD screen, something like B/G: N/A. I’d gotten through to them at last. I drove around and paid at the cashier window. Then I drove to the food window, which had a different employee than the one who’d take my order. The guy was holding an open bag and staring at a printout slip in his hand.
“Um, this order is blank? For where it says what kind of toy for the Happy Meal?” he said.
“Yeah, no toy,” I told him. “Because it’s not for a kid. It’s just for me. You know?” He peered into the car as I pointed to myself. I wanted to make sure he noticed I was driving and everything. He nodded slowly and turned back to fill the bag.
As I was driving away I felt something at the bottom of the bag. It was a teddy bear in a plastic baggie. A pink bear. For fuck’s sake.