This could very well be...

...the post that gets me kicked out of the *ahem* "ultraleft."
Here's the story:

Everyone's got the distant uncle they don't know well, and whose presence only sorta show up sporadically, like under the christmas tree. I have one such uncle, actually a bunch, but this one sent us a couple things. One was a bit of his own poetry, framed with a background of flowers or something. I thought that was pretty neat and silently gave him props. He also sent 'the kids' some gift certificates... for McDonald's. In his own words: 'because I know how it is, away from home, sometimes growing kids get a craving for two all-beef patties, special sauce...' etc. etc. You can picture the jingle in your head. If I repeat it verbatim here, who knows, I might get sued.

Uh, not really, uncle. But it's the thought that counts.
Like most times at my parents house, I make a Big Deal out of it, like, what the hell am I going to do with this? In the end I take it. My thinking is this: for all those times, many times, when I do not have money, at least now I have something to offer a panhandler. I have $20 worth to get rid of.

First dude I met while postering for a job on Richmond, the night before New Year's. Richmond street in Toronto is the 'Entertainment District.' This is where the pricks hang out to get rejected by women with fake suntans. Whenever I poster here I pass drunk fuckwads waiting in line outside a shitty club, dressed like wannabe mafia bosses, labouring to come up with some funny putdown for me. Usually I throw up some paste, a poster, and another layer of paste and I'm gone before the gears in their head stop turning. Anyway, this guy is working the intersection, waiting for red lights and walking up to the driver side of cars asking for money. Yeah, he's an amateur and he looks too well dressed. He asks me for change and I give him a book of gift certificate "dollars": $5 worth. He doesn't know what it is. We're having this conversation in the middle of the crosswalk because that's where he stopped me. I try explaining that these are gift certificates; that you can use them the same way you would use legal tender. Pretty soon, light changes, honking ensues, he sort of shakes his head in disgust at me and mutters 'Peace.'
Second time was even worse. Girl yelled at me: "I'M A VEGAN!!!" I ran home and hid under the bed until dinner. These things were fucking controversial. I didn't have the balls to try offering them away again.

Goddamn it. What was my recourse? I sat and pondered the best course of action. I could throw them out. But then this evil corporation would still have my uncle's money, and wouldn't have incurred the costs of serving food. Besides, it was wasteful. That went against every anti-consumerist instinct I had! I might as well throw away actual food.
I could try giving them away again... but no. I was too chickenshit. Who knows how many vegan panhandlers are out there. And come on... offering McDonald's food... to the impoverished?! That's fucking crass. I mean, it happened to me and I didn't enjoy it.
I guess... I could go order something. What's the big deal?! Activists like singling out corporations that most embody the things they hate. But Nike isn't the problem... sweatshops are. McDonald's is no more evil than... Burger King. Besides... I looked at the gift certificates. Part of their value would go to 'helping kids.' I could get behind that, unless McDonald's was sending these kids to Bible Camp or something. No matter. At least they would have something nutritious to eat. Unlike me.

There was something else... this could prove to be a test. McDonald's was a symbol. This was the public face of capitalism. Could I eat from Capitalism's plate and walk away unscathed and unrepentant? This could be like an innoculation against junk food. Get the very worst of it and you won't have an appetite for ground beef for decades. Remember: I am a twisted nut. I once applied for a job at a golf course for the sole reason of learning to hate the kinds of assholes who own used-car dealerships. All I will say of that experience is that I succeeded in my goal beyond my wildest dreams.
The day finally came where I was famously broke and the house was, er, in between groceries. My target was to eat at the trough of all that was wrong with the world. McDonald's. Located at the mall. In a Wal-Mart. On a Saturday afternoon. In a crowded mall. Shortly after Christmas. If I didn't hate humanity by the end of this, I figured I could apply for saintdom at the Vatican.
Waiting in line at McDonald's was not uneducational. I watched a fledgling high school romance between my cashier and another pimply employee. I asked for a 'shake.' They don't sell shakes at this location?! I have been asleep far too long. What year is this?
Plus, I noticed, nobody was having fun! I had tried coming here as sort of an ironic practical joke on myself, so I was gamely trying to maintain a hipster sneer. As if I knew how ridiculous I was by being here. Shit, I couldn't do this! These people weren't having any fun! We were all suffering together! I wanted to throw out my arms in a big group hug and wax enthusiastic on the merits of organic fruit, to this, my wayward brotherhood of (Wo)Man!
They made my order to go, even though I asked for a tray and a plastic fork. The cashier gave me a look that told me she was waiting for her break, and that there were no more tables available. Maybe I could go home to eat, and, y'know, watch television or something. Ha! All this irony was making me hungry.
I noticed something else that has changed about McDonald's. Instead of those paper bags they used to have, they give you all your food in a transparent plastic bag. To better pollute the planet, I guess. I mention this because on the way home, I was... found out. I ran into Chris coming out of one Toronto's many delicious Roti shops. I said hi... and kept walking. Fast. It was too late. I saw him smile, eyes flicker down, to the paper cup proudly embalzoned with that big yellow 'M', and finally through the plastic bag, to discover that I hadn't just bought a 'salad' or something innocuous... this was a Big Mac combo with fries and a Coke. The Horror. I didn't have the heart to detail my manifesto to him. It looked like an otherwise healthy-minded comrade... crumbling in the face of junk food. How I suffer for my art.
The details of ingestion are largely anticlimactic. It wasn't the worst meal I've ever eaten*... I was surprised how depressing french fries are as a food source. But there is an epilogue to this sordid little tale. An hour later, I had a feel in my gut. A feeling I can only call... ungood. The ensuing bowel movement was nothing if not dramatic.
Buckshot! *cough cough*

It was probably the best outcome I could have hoped for. I was ecstatic! Because I learned something important about myself. One day, they may be able to shove Capitalism down my throat, but they'll never be able to make me digest it!

*That honour is relegated to a breakfast I had as a Boy Scout. The idea was to hollow out an orange rind and then cook an egg inside it by putting it directly into the fire. I'm still not sure why... if you don't have a pot in the wilderness, will you have an orange?! Anyway, I didn't completely remove every trace of orange from the rind, and didn't completely finish cooking my egg, and a bunch of ash fell into it when I put it in the fire. So for breakfast I had liquid egg mixed with bits of orange and ash. Later I was vomited upon by a kid named Mike. I'm not sure if these things are related.


At 4:23 p.m., Blogger eric said...

calling all dorks!
umm... does anyone wanna offer criticism on a short story? Should be typed up and email-ready by tomorrow. this is directed at the usual suspects: krystalline? inkheart? robert? it's 13 pages scrawled on lined paper, probably shorter once i get around to editing out fluff.

ok thanks. sorry about the 'dorks' thing.

At 6:08 p.m., Blogger Robert said...

relax Eric, you cant get kicked out of the ultra-left...if u cld it wldnt be the ultra-left :)

ill have a look at your story, sure! :)

At 6:59 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

why can't i be one of the unusual suspects instead?

At 9:17 p.m., Blogger eric said...

ooohhhh.... very well.
(wave of the fairy wand) *ding!*
you are now the Unusual Suspect.
Moreover; alivewithpleasure Media Industries Corp. is accepting applications for Official Site Ombudsman. Are you interested?
Here... you get to wear this hat.

At 5:24 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have no time or energy to edit something on such a short timeline. and i won't be your ombudsman.

but i will be your CFO.

my first advice is to invest in sandwiches.
people like sandwiches.


At 8:48 p.m., Blogger eric said...

ok, sandwiches. yeah.
how about picnics? do people like picnics?
can i invest in picnics somehow?
and yeah, no problem. i still haven't finished typing this thing, so it's not ready for primetime.
have yourself a good weekend.


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