Eating on the road
This was HH’s first major road trip. We had taken short excursions to Holland and Belgium, but this would be a two-day journey from New York to South Carolina and back and we had no idea how he would respond. To our great joy, he turned out to be a real traveler. He likes getting up while it’s still dark, drinking a glass of water and then setting out in the dawning gray with something soft on the CD player. Not a bad way to start the day. It usually takes him about fifteen minutes to fall back to sleep. When he wakes an hour or two later, he’s hungry.
Recently HH discovered Burger King and McDonald’s. He likes BK better because of the toys but I think he also likes their burgers. Over the course of four days driving Interstates 81 and 77, we ate at either BK or McD’s about three or four times. I lost count. Following our last experience we told HH we wouldn’t be going back for another year. I don’t think that edict is going to stand but I welcome some short-term relief.
McDonald’s is like a Fellini film gone sour and I expect our last visit will resonate with me for some time. I waited for about ten minutes while my son and his mother ordered lunch. At some point a young woman in her late twenties sat down in the booth next to mine. She probably weighed 300 pounds and was of short to average height. As she settled into her seat, the rolls of fat beneath her blouse undulated over the back of the bench directly in front of me. She was wide, wide and round like a giant silly putty model melting into her clothes and the furniture she enveloped. And she wasn’t alone: The place was full of huge people.
There are large people everywhere. I’m big, but I try to stay on the lighter side of extra large. It’s a struggle and I empathize with the folks who weigh-in beyond the overweight range. But the image of this swollen young woman, woofing down a Big Meal of some order, was saddening. I was reminded of Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” – not any scene in particular, but rather the way the title of the film captures the experience of eating there.
It was rush hour at McD’s and as I sat I thought I could hear the sloshing of hi-fructose corn syrup as it ran down the throats of my neighbors and the sound of chewing in the room reminded me of a moth infestation we had two years ago in the Catskills. Moth caterpillars ate the treetops from much of the county, and sitting in a chair under a large Beech tree, you could hear thousands of hungry jaws defoliating the neighborhood.
It was much the same experience in that booth at McD’s. I sensed the assembled crowd, as well as the surrounding intersection community on which this McD’s was located, consuming everything in sight, then roaring on in twin-cab trucks sucking the oil right out of the ground they were driving over. It was only a moment, a blink of an eye, but it was vivid.
German Diary 2008
Labels: eating on the road