I used to eat at McDonald’s instead going to church.
I used to sit with one of my best friend’s in the world and talk about just how our lives were turning out in the latter half of high school. We would talk about the books we were reading and the meaning of the homework we underwent. We tried Subway for a little bit, but we always came back to McDonalds. I ate the two cheeseburger meal, and she had nothing most of the time. My friend at various points of her life has been a vegetarian, and she was most certainly one then. We would just sit there and pursue the relationship that seemed so much more important than just about anything else, and she would occasionally snag a fry.
In college though, I stopped eating McDonald’s completely. For years I didn’t go near a cheeseburger from that burger joint or any other. I had become a vegetarian as well, although not because of my high school friend. I was disgusted by what meat did to others, both humans and animals. It was gross that men pursued meat as if it were a woman to be conquered. I couldn’t stomach the processing it took to make those big macs and tube-like french fries. I told people that I would never eat there again. I told people that my kids would never eat there, no matter how tempting the play place was. They would never be lured in by Ronald McDonald and his crew. They would never crave the toy in a happy meal or the sweet ketchup on their salty pickles.
But, I eat it now. I eat it regularly. My children eat it. They know the golden arches and they can ask for it and provide compelling reasons for wanting it. They are persuasive, just as I’m sure I was persuasive with my parents. We are all looking for an easy meal at the end of a long day. I tell myself that it is okay because my children get milk and apple dippers. I tell myself that it is not going against everything I have previously stated and that I deserve the cheeseburgers as much as I did in High School. I might even be able to persuade myself that it is really my wife who wants it and not me. The honest truth, though, is that I have made the choice to purchase McDonald’s on a regular basis, and no amount of justification is going to change that fact.
My belt is tighter for it, I’m sure.
I hate their advertising and their slogan. I hate that they are everywhere and there is no local flavor in any of their food. I hate that it is so cheep and available. Also, I hate that it is so tasty.
I think that it all just goes back to those moments of sitting over a huge amount of ketchup, talking about what the future really held. I eat McDonald’s because it is the food that I don’t have to think about. I know exactly what I am getting every time. I know what my wife gets and what my kids get. It isn’t a solitary experience like coffee drinking. It isn’t something that we do in the car. We sit and talk or just be together without any pretension.
Because McDonald’s is so put upon by everyone, it can actually move beyond all of the hype or anti-hype and just quietly serve a nation of people (or perhaps the world) the simplest excuse for conversation and sharing possible. The food becomes the conveyance device for the communication to take place. The trading of fries and taking bytes that no one will miss is a kind of concert of greasy exchange.
I probably won’t always make this a habit, but I will not disparage those who do. I will not look down on those who simply are trying to talk with their family without adding the layer of protection that is being waited on. It is the fact that I am so cut off from the production of the food that I am able to help produce the relationships that enjoy it.
I think I will enjoy my family tonight. And I think you know what that means.