Big Mac Conversations
One of the best occasions on which to study the tragedy of the human condition is at a McDonald’s inside a Wal Mart Super Center, around lunch time on Saturday. It’s akin to taking a quick trip into a well-scrubbed heart of darkness beating frantically inside a larger yet identical heart of darkness; a trip into bizarre hopelessness and absurdity. Make sure you have a pad and pencil or a laptop, for note taking, then pick a seat somewhere in the middle of the restaurant and begin to observe. That’s precisely what I did yesterday afternoon, and these were the more interesting – albeit occasionally confusing – topics of conversation:
1) A disheveled forty-something biker-type woman talking to her 120 pound methed-out husband about why they didn’t need to waste money buying vegetables for their kids because the dozen or so generic brand frozen pizzas in their shopping cart had “onions, peppers, and tomato sauce.”
2) A well-dressed woman in her mid-twenties speaking to her teenage sister about the assortment of movies their father had asked them to buy from the electronics department. “You’d think a 500 pound guy who hasn’t been out of his bedroom in almost five years would just take the plunge and get himself that Netflix,” said the younger sister. “It’s a control thing,” replied the elder. “Dad has us running these errands for him because he can’t do anything for himself anymore. It’s no different than his diet. He demands that Mom make him nothing but those fucking bacon sandwiches because it gives him a little bit of power. The illusion of control. But that’s also what got him so fucking fat. And it’s what will kill him.”
3) A father reading aloud from the Bible as his four children ate french fries and drank soda while listening intently: “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall dominate over thee.” After a moment of silence he said “That was about Adam and Eve, and all their descendants, including your mother and myself. That means God wants men to rule over their women. Do you understand?”
4) A severely bulimic twenty-something woman slowly consuming her order of eight double cheeseburgers while talking loudly into a cell phone about her eating disorder, her suicidal tendencies, and her need for a fourth abortion.
5) Two little boys, perhaps eight and eleven years of age, discussing how much they enjoyed Saturdays; the day their mother lets them eat at McDonald’s and walk around Wal-Mart while she shops at the mall “for six or so hours.”
…..For the record, most people just ate their Big Macs in silence or talked over how much toilet paper they needed to buy.