Friday, September 23, 2016

Love Story #5: Comfort Food

Dear McDonald's,

You know how I feel about you. I know how you feel about me.

José, the day manager, knows my order by heart. The teenagers working the after-school shift always break it to me gently if your milkshake machine is down for repairs again.

My friends know how I feel: They've seen the paper bags. They've caught the telltale whiff of french fries lingering in my car.

For god's sake, my husband knows. He's witnessed me, curled in the fetal position, pale and sweaty, whispering your name.

I know it's not safe, this feeling. Middle-aged suburban mothers don't just go around telling the Internet that they love a fast food cheeseburger with a side of fries and sometimes a medium Coke and also a chocolate shake. That they love the powdered salt generously dusted over the fries. That they love the near-meat flavor of the burger patty.

But I do. I do love it.

When I am in the midst of a migraine, my stomach churns. Yet, sometimes the best medicine for my jackhammering temples is a meal. McDonald's, you are the only one I want when pain has taken me to the brink of sanity and exhaustion and/or the toilet bowl. Your delicious chemical slurry stays down, calming the choppy waters of my gut. The sound of ice gently knocking about in my wax cup soothes me.

Tonight, my husband took one look at me when he arrived home from work, and he knew. The sunglasses, the ashen complexion, the tight set of my jaw. He sent me off to bed with my meds and an ice pack. But 2 hours later, I padded down the stairs, mascara smeared in a semicircle below each eye, my bangs at a right angle. "I need food," I moaned.

At 9 o'clock at night, he went to you. For me. Your milkshake machine was broken, but your fries were fresh and piping hot.

I've seen pictures of McDonald's hamburgers left to mummify out in the open. Not a speck of mold to be found on the bun or beef, even after months. They say that means you're bad. That you can't be trusted. That it's not natural. Well, they can judge us all they want. But you and me, we're going to grow old together.

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