Outspoken

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Topher Payne: Is McDonald’s supersizing the importance of gender roles?

Playwright and writer Topher Payne

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.”

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Melissa Carter: In the doghouse

Melissa Carter

It's not often I'm in the doghouse with my girlfriend, Katie Jo, but lately I have attempted to make amends for a decision that was not in her best interest.

Shortly after joining the morning show at B98.5, my colleague Jeff Elliott invited us over to his new place for a homemade dinner. Days before that dinner Jeff's girlfriend, Azil, was at the station and expressed to me how excited she was to make a traditional meal for us from her home country, South Africa. I told her I was looking forward to trying it, and Azil let me know it isn't often she gets to make it and that the special occasion of our new show was an appropriate time to share this feast.

Then she asked me if there was anything Katie and I couldn't eat.

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Topher Payne: Strangers with candy

Playwright and writer Topher Payne

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.

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Melissa Carter: New job means returning to my childhood schedule

Melissa Carter

In the immortal words of Justin Bieber, “Never Say Never.”

Despite thinking I would never go back to morning radio, I have joined B98.5 and am one of the hosts of their new morning show, “Jeff and Melissa.”

Now that I am back to an early morning schedule, there are challenges to living a life of sleep deprivation. Imagine your body is a racecar. Living this lifestyle is asking your body to run a normal race every day with only about half a gas tank of energy.

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Topher Payne: My battle for a good night’s sleep

Playwright and writer Topher Payne

It’s four in the morning. I wake up agitated. It’s too quiet. I realize the air-conditioning isn’t running.

The bedspread is on the floor, and the sheets are soaked with sweat. The room even smells hot. 
Confounded by this, I check the thermostat. It’s 86 degrees, which would be perfect if I was at a barbecue, but not really ideal for a night’s sleep. There’s air coming out of the vents. Warm air, mocking me. I throw on boxers and look at my husband snoring contentedly. I have no idea how he sleeps through stuff like this.

I’ve always been the person who wakes up at the slightest provocation, bolting up to seek the source of sound. My father used to go to work at five every morning, and I’d jump out of bed when I heard him in the kitchen. I couldn’t keep myself in the bed, knowing there was something going on in the house which required investigation. I’d find Dad at the kitchen table, eating Raisin Bran in his postal uniform.