Helen and I, a little excited, find ourselves free at a strange time of day. Based on my pestering we head to McDonald’s at the non-mealtime of 2:45pm. Let me explain.
I’ve not purchased anything from the yellow hoops since 1998 due to the combined efforts of running and doing ok at school. Early years of running borne a fascination for throw away, roadside stuff, and the ‘who’ behind the big three; 1) crunched cigarette box’s, flung by coughing and spluttering bastards that will die from smoking, 2) pre-mix cans thrown by drongos that combine drinking, driving, Barnsy, and tossing. And 3) the exploded bag of fast food wrappering, trailed along the road like bunting. I imagine this last douchebag engages in all three chucks. Macca’s was, and still is, king amongst our throw-away world.
Then, at about the same time/same age, was a food-eating contest. I shared three of my five year 12 classes with the funniest bloke I’ve ever met. Country, skinny, smart, absurd, and responsible for my academic mediocrity. I’d be a real doctor by now, stitching up punters on Bear Grylls island if Ash, the spud picker, kept his dick in his pants. I thought I’d get used to seeing his piece wrapped over a wrist (not just his) in place of a watch, but no. The bet was that for every number we got above 60 (out of 100), on our final year grade, we’d eat a Micky D cheeseburger. We did ok my friends, well enough to ruin the humble, rubbery, bullshit burger.
And so, after almost 20 of healthy food years I’ve recently turned on myself, taken a large dose of marketing and decided to try the customizable, hipster looking burgers. Fill it with local cheese, local beef, lettuce from down the road, and sesame seeds from Sesame Street. Ingredients all sourced from the block. I bang on about Food Freedom all the time, the ability to pick day-by-day, meal-to-meal, what I eat. At a conference a few weeks ago I went a little nuts with all the beautiful, wheeled-out, over-catered food when all I felt like was eight spotty bananas and a tin of sardines. This new burger range, Helen, looks righteous and country. Over we skip to the neighbourhood franchise. The car park is packed, the ball pit is full of doped up kids and the newspaper at the window seat has the crossword filled in. Gold. It smells like I never left. I walk up to the large screen that I presumed you swipe and prod. I press upon a whole bunch of layers and marvel at the HD photos, particularly the beetroot. I’ve never seen such good-looking beetroot. I order Beetroot. It is, I must admit, the only thing I remember ordering. Helen, meanwhile, tech savvy and with legs longer than mine, has ordered cheese with a side of bread. We sit. I’m proud of myself for the social experiment, and my return to world order. Helen’s order arrives, and she tucks in. She’s such a good eater, such a good sort. I wait, and then wait some more. I wonder if I did it right, the ordering? We discuss process. I cocked up the process. Swiping my credit card, but not finalising, or receipting, or checking with someone, or something.
Helen is almost done and we’ve been robbed of sharing burger stories as we eat. I report to the hipster dude who makes the coffee. He knows nothing about my burger, nothing about the one with beetroot. The managerial type girl knows nothing about my burger, and fusses over me. She can make a new burger with Beetroot, a fancy one. But I’m done. Burnt, dumber for it, and condemned to another 20-year wait. Helen is pissed that I made her eat a sub-par grease ball, but said it tasted good enough to eat. I bet.