“That’s right, the fifty-piece. And for here.” I’d said, more so declared. Alone in line, my intentions had become abundantly clear.
“Fifty McNugget,” she mustered, her words dripping in apathy. The lack of bells, gongs, or erotic moans greeting my self-imposed challenge was disheartening. Here I was, trying to forever join a national brotherhood of gluttons, and all the McDonald’s lunch crowd could do was whisper and gawk.
The container arrived accompanied by my diversity quilt of sauces and I retreated with my tray. If I could finish this I’d finally have an accomplishment worthy of gracing my LinkedIn profile.
I was ready. I’d popped a handful of aspirin beforehand. My blood would be thinner—I wouldn’t be derailed by a heart attack or stroke brought on by grease or excitement.
With precision, I cracked the lid of the carton slightly and inhaled, letting the sodium-rich warmth into my lungs. I slowly peeled the tops off my Ranch and Sweet n’ Sour. Sauce was crucial—I wasn’t about to let another Thursday be ruined by a shameful lack of lubricant.
It was time. Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. I dug into the box. Trying to conserve jaw strength, I tried to apply the sauce generously, keep chewing to a minimum, and let gravity do most of the work.
The first ten were a breeze, despite depleting the Ranch. Intent and focused, I was like a surgeon. My chewing took on a metronome-like quality. I’d become absorbed. People were staring, but I forgave them—I am at my sexiest when I’m eating.
I’d rounded the halfway point without missing a beat. I’d hit my stride. No motion had been wasted; though I’d burned through nearly my entire sauce spectrum by the time I’d hit Number Thirty-Five.
Could’ve been the handful of aspirin. Could have been the nearly forty McNuggets I’d eaten. Could’ve been something completely subconscious. I’m no doctor, but for whatever reason at this point everything in my body started hurting. My rhythm was gone. I’d become conscientious again, sadly realizing how awful I felt and how sweaty I’d become.
Failure was not an option. For a litany of reasons, McNugget binges notwithstanding, I knew I would never compete in an Olympic games. This was my shot at glory, albeit in a dirty booth riddled with stray fries.
My skin felt sticky. It was as if no matter how many showers I took in the future I’d never again be clean. That smug cashier looked over at me, my body nearly broken and dusted with crumbs and sauce but with still eleven McNuggets remaining. She let out a derisive chortle that echoed through my psyche.
That was just what I needed. I was no longer civil. Handful by handful, I mashed McNugget into my mouth, mopping up any remaining sauce into the chicken-based sponge I gripped in my hand. Three ravenous minutes later I had finished.
I turned, wiping my mouth on my shirt collar. Tears welled on my sauce-caked face. I held my hand above my head in triumph. I’d expected thunderous applause. Handshakes, salutes, mayors awarding keys to cities, plural. Instead I was greeted with disgust and disdain. I’d never felt so much like a Vietnam veteran.
I left McDonald’s. I’d strategically set aside my afternoon. Fifty McNuggets weren’t going to exit as quickly and as quietly as they’d entered.