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McCulture

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“I wish I lived in, like, the twenties…before this cultural wasteland dump…I mean you can’t even drive two miles without seeing a fast food chain…I just want to go to Europe or something, y’know?”
She's right. From any given McDonalds in our town you can see another. I feel their obtrusive golden arches snickering behind my back like the narc in elementary school who parts his hair. They linger everywhere, unctuously displaying reminders to our grandparents that our generation is a complete and utter failure. Which doesn’t make sense to me, because I have yet to meet someone in my generation who decided to build a McDonalds. I guess we are guilty of having indulged in this so-called cultural wasteland. We were f*ed from the start, I guess.

When I was a kid I wanted to work at a McDonald’s. I thought that if I worked there, I could eat McDonald’s for every meal and have all my birthday parties there. I used to lick the salt off of my fries before biting into them, and then eating the ketchup by itself. I don’t think I have ever had anything there as a kid besides a kiddy meal with a plain burger. I remember the day I stopped eating those. Being ten years old, I felt that it was time I lost the title of “kid.” I realized the implications of such a mature young adult ordering a “kiddy meal” and followed my dad’s order with an “I’ll have the same” in a probationary tone, testing the limits of my newfound self-importance. I still remember the betrayal and disappointment I felt when confronted with the cold, hard reality that was the translucent bottom of the greasy paper bag stopping short before my eyes and the realization that adult meals don’t come with prizes.

My dad and I call ourselves Burger connoisseurs. Everytime we eat somewhere new, I feel a pressing obligation to tradition and I must get a burger. I’m a sucker for traditions. I haven’t ever changed my favorite color in my life; I’d feel too guilty. Anyways, so of course my dad and I love McDonald’s, ‘cause for being bad, it is just SO good. He takes me there when I’m home sick from school to get burgers and shakes. When I’m too sick, I just get fries. I don’t know if my doctor would approve. My mom doesn’t. She refuses to order her own meal when we go there under claim that she “absolutely will not put that into her body” but when she tries to convince me to get large fries instead of small, her sanctimonious wellness claims are laughable. We all love McDonalds, even those of us who hold ourselves to a more expensive standard for food that doctors frown upon.
I believe in a small pining inside of the modern American stomach that is activated during road trips and can only be filled with a Big Mac: “two all-beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions and a sesame seed bun.” When my dad was a kid, if you recited that in under two seconds you got a free Big Mac. It’s a shame they don’t do it anymore, because my sister and I used to sit in her room for hours practicing. We could earn ourselves a lifetime supply of Big Macs with our sharply refined skills. I think if I had been born into the twenties I probably would have searched the world for a Big-Mac-shaped food to satisfy my road-trip stomach to no avail.

I’m glad I don’t live in the twenties. I don’t know what I’d do on road trips.



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