McDonalds I Want You In My Mouth: My Lifelong Love Affair With Fast Food
My mother was a god-awful cook, the extent of her culinary skills ranging from slapping some scrambled eggs and ketchup on bread, to handing me a limp Oscar Meyer wiener and calling it a day. My father, on the other hand, was borderline Top Chef material, but lacked drive and ambition, not to mention he was a carpenter and scoffed at the arts, culinary arts included.
Dad would create delicious dinners every Friday evening for us, usually preparing some variation of meat lathered in his delicious barbeque sauce that I’ve unsuccessfully tried to replicate on more than seventeen occasions thus far in my adult life. I’m fairly certain he is withholding some essential ingredient, or I suppose it‘s just as likely that I’ve inherited my mum’s lackluster cooking abilities. Either way, I must thank my Dad for instilling a sense of meat-dependency in me. My insatiable carnivorous lust for steak and other various forms of red meat will surely lead to my demise someday, but for now, I will blindly disregard that knowledge, allowing me to focus my attention on the age old battle of deciphering which breakfast meat best compliments my Belgian waffles.
Other than those glorious meat-filled Fridays, my dinner options for the rest of the week seemed rather bleak. My father and I had the wonderful opportunity of choosing between my mum’s specialty Hamburger Helper or McDonald’s. More often than not, we went with Big Macs.
In elementary school, McDonald’s not only satisfied my craving for french-fries, it also helped fuel my obsession for TY beanie babies when, to my mother’s horror, they introduced Teenie Beanie happy meals. Summer of ’94 was solely dedicated to the collection of every Teenie Beanie known to man, including the highly coveted Celebration Bear. I would often skip soccer practices and flat out turn down invitations to birthday parties and other important social gatherings at Chuck E Cheese’s and the Discovery Zone if they conflicted with the release of a new beanie at the local McDonald’s. Thank the lord I ended up being athletic. Who knows what I would currently look like if I hadn’t joined the track and cross-country teams to combat the caloric intake?
As I grew older, my juvenile crush on McDonald’s expanded to include many other wonderful entities popularly known as Arby’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, KFC and Panda Express. Like lovers coming in and out of my life, they have all represented times where I submitted willingly and others, where I had to shun the shiny object in front of my eyes. What follows is a recollection of my sordid past relationships with these extremely unforgiving fast food chains and the role they’ve played in helping me become the woman I am today.
Similar to a bad boy, when McDonald’s initially entered my mouth, I quickly knew it would be the first of many, many times. From the very beginning, I knew McDonald’s wasn’t good for me. I knew that if I simply walked a block or two, I could literally pick anything up off the side of the street and it would be better for me. Naively I persisted. Those brooding golden arches drew me in and before I knew it, I was hooked. I spent a few whirlwind weeks with McDonald’s, despite all the warning signs. I tried to break away, but it was too late. I was weak and I was lovin’ it. I told myself, “Okay Brittany, you will only visit once a week.” Slowly once a week turned into spending weekends together, sometimes having a birthday at McDonald’s and even the occasional lonely holiday. After spending a lot of time together, I would physically feel sick to my stomach. My frequent visits usually ended in regret, and with me hating myself. McDonald’s would often try to make it up to me, showering me with gifts wrapped in colorful bags, and pretty red boxes, treating me like a child, as if I could be won over with these presents. It usually worked. Even though the relationship was bad for me, looking back on it, there were still sweet moments, like how McDonald’s always loved to see me smile. Even though I’ve managed to break free from the hold that McDonald’s once had on me, to this day I still crawl back in moments of weakness.
Arby’s has always been there for me. During my summer high school days I worked at American Eagle where I spent my time folding, purposely messing up, and refolding clothes. Arby’s was just up the block and was often the center of my thoughts as I daydreamed about sneaking out and going for a quick visit. Unlike most relationships, Arby’s faithfully stood by my side during the summer, and we even lasted throughout college. Arby’s helped provide for me when I was in between jobs. I finally got a new “career” at Dick’s Sporting Goods selling overpriced exercise equipment to old rich people who would never use it, and Arby’s was there for me, even though I was dirt poor. I sometimes spent the few dollars I had and enjoyed the company of Arby’s during my 15 minute lunch breaks. We grew up together, spending nearly every day in each other’s company. Arby’s will always have a special place in my heart, not to mention, those buns were second to none.
Wendy’s – Late Night Booty Call
Just a quick drive up the street and I knew Wendy’s would always be there to fulfill my needs, and usually was down for anything. Simple and to the point. Never a need to dress up or fix my hair, and I could even show up in my PJs. Eat great, even late!
Taco Bell is like the person you drunkenly decide to take home at the end of the night. It seems like the best idea in the world at the time, but when you wake up in the morning you can’t quite shake the feelings of shame and self loathing. Yes, while you were at the bar all night you meant to find something worthwhile to fill you up inside, but let’s be honest, you’d rather focus your attentions on more important things, like getting shit faced with your friends. Then at the end of the night you panic, realizing you may go home empty handed. In a last ditch effort you attempt to find the best option at such a late hour to fill the gapping void inside of you. The options are bleak. Taco Bell it is! People have warned you about your over indulgent tendencies and low standards while under the influence, yet you fail to heed their words. You hurry up and grab Taco Bell, hoping nobody sees you together. Even in your drunken haze you know you aren’t going home with a Grade A quality piece of meat, a little more fatty, and a little more gross than usual, but for now, it will have to do.
When you awaken in the morning you are relieved to see that there are no traces of your little soirée, save a bag that you quickly kick under the bed. You walk into the living room and see a ridiculous shit eating grin displayed across your roommate’s face. You die a little on the inside as she gives you a play by play of the pathetic alcohol-induced scene she witnessed last night. Your stomach begins to churn as the hangover and remembrance of ravishing your late night prey comes flooding back to you.
To me, Chick-fil-A will always be the one that got away. Our relationship blossomed in high school when CF moved in down the street from me. Of course I instantly found myself attracted to the new kid on the block and started visiting frequently. Not only was Chick-fil-a attractive, the relationship was healthy and good for me (well, comparatively speaking)! I still don’t know what happened; maybe I came on too strong, perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Regardless of the reasons, our relationship began to fizzle out and soon we stopped all communication. It wasn’t until years later, when I had an internship in D.C. that we bumped into each other again. Our relationship was reignited for a short stint, but then we began to face problems. I had an extremely busy schedule and Sunday was my only free day. Chick-fil-A could never find time for me on Sundays. Even when I needed companionship most, Chick-fil-A was never there to comfort me. Towards the end of our relationship I learned the inevitable absence on Sundays was due to religious reasons. We didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on this, and decided to mutually end our relationship due to religious reasons.
KFC is similar to an awful blind date, or some cupid match-maker scenario gone terribly awry. My friends always suggest KFC saying, “KFC is right up your alley, everything you’re looking for!” or “I don’t know why you’re acting like you’re too good for KFC.” I’ve given it the ole’ college try, really I have. Despite my friends failed attempts, the relationship just isn’t going to work out. I’ve had numerous dates with KFC and each one has ended badly. I just don’t trust it, I feel like something is off. When we’re together, I can never really get a read on the situation. Sometimes I feel like it simply isn’t genuine. Is KFC really who he claims to be? (Is the chicken really chicken?) The worst run-in I had with KFC was when I was rather young, too young to drink, and I was sufficiently hammered. Needless to say the date ended with me praying to the porcelain god. Due to embarrassment, and now associating the date with my own vomit, I just can’t bring myself to ever come in contact with KFC again. I just can’t do it.
While I usually prefer the same old American white meat time and time again, I sometimes like to spice things up a bit and get a little exotic. I met Panda Express during my travels. We hit it off right away, spending hours together in the food court as I waited for my delayed flight to arrive. When my flight was only minutes away I made the brash decision to bring Panda Express home with me. Together we joined the mile high club and the relationship really seemed like it had lasting power. Later that night when I brought Panda Express home, things just didn’t seem as appealing. That was about the extent of our relationship.
When looking back on these high school and college relationships, it all seems rather juvenile. I know I should focus on the reasons why things didn’t work out between us and why they were bad for me, but I can’t help but remember all the wonderful times we shared together. Now that I’ve graduated college and moved to NYC, I like to think of myself as a sophisticated young woman. The city has so much to offer me and the possibilities for random hookups and to establish meaningful relationships are endless. I can have my choice of Mexican, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, and Italian literally any time of day or night, yet when lunch time rolls around, I usually find myself longing for my familiar fast-food.
I’ve learned to avert my eyes while shuffling into my Manhattan office. I can’t stand the disapproving scowls my coworkers shoot me as their gaze falls upon what my arm is usually wrapped around: a bag of McDonald’s. They can’t believe that in a city with such an amazing selection, that a fit, capable young woman like myself would forgo top notch quality and expensive taste for cheap, useless garbage and tasty afternoon delights.
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