There’re Many Excuses for Eating McDonald’s – These Are Mine

I don’t have to chew as much.
Because what’s chewing when I can chimney-slide it down? From the second my McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder is unsheathed to when I squish ‘n toss the wrapper, I barely have to work my jaw. It’s a true metaphor for American cultural identity: less chewing/more swallowing. And whoever thought up printing “nutritional” information on something with such a limited hand-to-mouth life is a genius!

Don’t look at me; I’m hideous.
Even as I decry such privileged attributes as lazy eating, I’m occasionally swayed by food-matter that requires neither fork nor self-respect. Never mind that I’m hunched in my car, windshield angled at a hedge to hide my private shame. Kookiest part is, the way I wipe my mouth, use my napkin, or react when a chunk falls from my fingers or face is very different than what I exhibit at my own dinner table or in an actual restaurant. It’s the Jekyll and Hyde of posture and manners: as if it would feel right somehow to take off my shirt to eat a Big Mac.

Fast food is often for people who waited too long.
When I’m suddenly dizzy and using words like “fuck,” “goddamn,” and “shit-for-brains” to describe my recent attendance at a child’s birthday party, I realize I need to eat — NOW. Parking the car where it won’t be towed or ticketed, navigating crosswalks, and remembering to lock away my valuables are all things the McDonald’s drive-thru eliminates.

They have to take $4.43 in change and lint.
Now that I’m frenzied and possibly hypoglycemic, of course I’m willing to claw for console coins and risk learning the hard way why it’s a good idea to have some folding money or plastic on you. For now, the McDonald’s kid is gonna have to cup his hands through Window #1 to avoid a short register.

I can’t win anyway, so why not?
McDonald’s franchises require that their “fresh leaf lettuce” be treated with 10 different chemicals just to keep it the right color at the right crispness for the right length of time. Not only is that an extraordinary attention to detail, it matches the polypropylene environment of my car’s interior, the berserk toxicity of my yoga mat, and all of the resin compounds I inhale while sitting in just about any movie theater. Hey, if my pen finds my mouth while I’m jotting something down, am I not essentially teething a Chinese smokestack? Right. Back to my McCrispy Bacon Squeezer.

McDonald’s French fries can’t be beat.
Actually they can, but I repeat this to myself as I witness customer after customer struggle with their pants coming through the doorway. (Seriously, watch how many people yank determinedly at their drawstrings and elastic waistbands right before entering.) My own visit is mentally justified by the fact that I “only” make 8-10 McDonald’s runs a year. But I also pretend McNuggets are healthy ’cause they’re chicken. If I’m really smarter than child-directed marketing, what am I doing? Do these fries taste better than my own dignity? Apparently they do. When Joan Didion wrote, “Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price,” she may have been pulling up to Window #2 herself.

“Last call” says it all.
The “McNugget Mugget” and the “Hoff Burger” are great equalizers. Club-wreckage, shit-faced frats, your own neighbors and co-workers…there are an awful lot of us who hear that 2:20 am siren song coaxing us to shove gobs of meat-paste and vegetable protein into our gullets and/or smear them across a friend’s car door. This is as close to being Elvis Presley that any of us rock ‘n rollers are ever gonna get, so my drive-thru D.U.I. soundtrack always includes “And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind”:

“The moment we’re living is now now now now now now now now…”

Superior f-f-fullness f-f-factor.
This part’s not so good. Far from “lovin’ it,” I actually feel injured after eating McDonald’s. It wouldn’t feel so awful if I wasn’t able to push so much of it into my mouth in one shot. It’s as if it dissolves before my jaw even moves, making my pie hole feel capable of larger loads. What is it about these meal products that compel me to consume them like a trash compactor? Oh, I can enjoy Blanquette de Veau or pan seared Moulard Foie Gras with foodie high-rollers any ‘ol day, but as soon I get a taste of  McDonald’s? I wanna take off my shirt.*

Lesson learned, excuses made. But hey, I got what I came for, didn’t I? I picked the place so I could feel full without delay and without leaving the car. I pay in pennies if necessary and decrease the burden of mastication. Since I’d let my own self grow straightjacket-starving, I could retrieve no memory of how well my last full-term Mickey D pregnancy worked out. So it serves me right to be left with the sensation of being 100% USDA embalmed with no one –not even the clown– to blame.



* In the last 24 hours I’ve been asked by five people  –three of ’em blood relatives–
if I really take off my shirt when eating McDonald’s.
C’mon mom, I’m just being sarcastic. I don’t take off my clothes to eat fast food!