It was a family ritual: Every weekday afternoon, my sister and I would lay out our homework on the coffee table, Mama would pour herself a Diet Coke, and we’d get caught up on the latest shocking developments on the daytime TV soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
I go to McDonald’s. I can’t say I’m proud of it, but I’m a sucker for cheap and convenient, which was a real problem back when I was dating. I’m fully aware of the hidden costs of scarfing down a McChicken and a McDiet McCoke while sitting in McTraffic, and that price will be paid by the size of my ass. But we all do what we have to do.
I had birthday parties at McDonald’s as a (fat) child. I survived in New York on $10 a day eating nothing but food served under those magical golden arches, and other than the mild chest pains, I was really grateful for them. Their MSG runs deep in my veins.
So I’m at the drive-thru, offering up my handful of quarters for my meal (because you can do that there), and the woman at the window is taking another order, apparently for a Happy Meal. First, she asks, “Apples or fries?” which I think is pretty neat, if fundamentally flawed. Who eats apples with a cheeseburger? That’s not a logical culinary combo.
It’s the sort of haphazard three in the morning meal that would be thrown together by a drunk dude based upon what happens to be in his kitchen: “Let’s see, I’ll have a cheeseburger, some apple sticks, this can of water chestnuts and half a jar of olives.” While the logic of the meal escapes me, I can appreciate what they’re going for. Obviously, things have changed since I was a kid.
Or perhaps they haven’t, because the drive-through employee’s next question is one I’ve heard for thirty years: “Girl toy or boy toy?” The rational assumption here is that one of the Happy Meal toys has a penis, and one has a vagina – because that would be the difference between boys and girls.
Now, I’m not a parent, but if I were I would take real issue with serving my child a meal that includes a My Little Pony with a cervix. And then my kid would have all these questions, and I’d say, “Hush, child, stop your incessant questions regarding your toy’s genitals. Daddy’s watching his stories. Now finish your apple slices and freshen my martini.”
I do all I can to avoid situations where I ask my husband for money. The chasm between Preppy’s income and my own is almost comical, but I like to think I can get by on my earnings without asking for a handout.
Granted, I have no issue with him covering things like health insurance, the mortgage, or household bills. But I will go to great lengths to avoid requesting cash, because then I can maintain my carefully constructed delusion that I am in some way self-sufficient. As a result, I make a lot of trips to the CoinStar with a tube sock full of small change, most of which is also probably my husband’s.
I’m in line at CVS, waiting to purchase deodorant. In one pocket, a sock of coins I’ll be cashing in at my next stop. In the other pocket, nothing but quarters. I pick all the quarters out before I cash in at CoinStar, because they’re almost like real money.