Last Call had arrived. I’d had more than my fill of libations, casual friendship, and the shrill bachelorette party celebrating—or rather accepting—what was likely a second or third marriage.
My young mind fixated on McDonald’s. Fries on fries, on nuggets, on meat party. The tip I left, two dollars in small change plus a quarter-tube of Certs, reflected my burgeoning priority.
I could try to justify the impending gorge. I had restrained myself from eating the entire tub of French Onion dip for lunch and had earlier dashed across four lanes of traffic—both exhausting exercises in their own right.
A mistruth wasn’t necessary. I could be an adult and accept my surrender to fleeting oral pleasure. A lie for a lie leaves the whole world unaware of their obesity.
The golden arches rose in the distance, the beacon of capitalism and self-indulgence. Tipsy, alone, and stumbling, money was no issue. Shame wasn’t either.
Inside the line leading up to the counter was a parade of drunks, each louder and sloppier than the last. Giddiness filled the thick, listless air.
Each neck craned skywards at the menu ripe with picturesque options. This was an era before McDonald’s employed their half-breakfast-half-dinner, ambiguous, agnostic-y stretch from late evening to early morning. Lines were not blurred in yesteryear. Deadlines were deadlines and losers weren’t given trophies.
It was quarter past two when I stepped in line. Be it ordering the Catholic-y Double Filet-O-Fish or flirting back with the neck-less troll in the other line, disgusting choices lurked everywhere.
I didn’t know what to order. As always, my game plan from here involved going straight home, taking my pants off, and eating in bed. Hospital style.
Ahead of me a couple, hand-in-hand, ordered their Snack Wraps and fries. Despite their drunken stupor, they were beautiful together. The two were clearly in love and ready to embark on a late night of entwining carnal pleasures into an orgy of excess, flavor, and stickiness. Mostly their order meant I’d inched that much closer.
On deck. Decisiveness had been exercised. I stepped to the cashier and took a deep breath. Glancing up to clarify, I stood gaping as the burgers and fries slid over and were replaced with breakfast options.
I grabbed hold of an empty tray, raising it above my head. “Shit on my grandfather, what the fucking fuck!” I cried out, slamming it onto the tile floor.
The crowd paused, pregnant with disbelief.
“Egg McMuffin?” the cashier asked, essentially taunting. Words caught in my throat. Skepticism and rage fused together. I couldn’t accept this and anger poured out of me. Nuggets and fries had remained unsold, through she belabored that, now, they could not be bought.
Eventually my fists grew sore from pounding on the counter and my voice weakened from continually asking to speak to a different manager.
The tears welled up and I collapsed onto the cold floor. “Fries,” I managed through sobs. “Wake me up. Wake me up when my fries return.”
A Good Samaritan came to my side. I turned away and nestled further into the foot of the counter.
“Don’t cry for me; I’m already dead.”