McDonald's Gets Me High
And we're off to McDonald's, for we both love the place. Partially because McDonald's tastes good. Not always, granted, and not in the way more carefully prepared foods taste good. McDonald's' charms are among the oldest known to the human palate; the allure of molten lipids and the decadence of dessicants. Fat and sodium were the first things craved by human mouths in those dim days when Australopithecus roamed the Southern Hemisphere, when meats and minerals were in mortally short supply. McDonald's feeds ancestral hungers. It's why kids have such an automatic appreciation for the stuff.
But personally, I enjoy McDonald's less as a food than as a drug. I understand why so many people eat poorly when stressed. My usual intake at McDonald's is a Double Quarter Pounder, a large fry, a large Coke or shake, and a six-piece McNugget. (Sometimes I'm feeling crazy and add a Fish Fillet. It's OK, though -- I walk a lot.) Unless I'm in the middle of a day of strenuous physical labor, that combination does to me what opium did to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Within 60 minutes, I'm in a fetal position on a couch, gazing out the window with heavy-lidded eyes, thinking profound and occasionally disturbing thoughts but utterly at peace with all of them. Family problems, tax problems, the United States' dire political situation, the economy, my lack of insurance, whatever -- it's all interesting, it's all worth consideration, and none of it's very worth worrying about. I may jot something in a notebook. I smile. I babble some nonsense at somebody in the room. I have the meat sweats. I fall into a happy sleep full of vague, friendly dreams. Then I awake, sharp and unhungry. (And occasionally suffering from a dehydration headache.)
This isn't just me. It's biology, the inevitable side effect of a fat-salt-and-sugar orgy. McDonald's is a senses-duller, a worrying-inhibitor. It's no wonder that a highly driven Third Culture Kid and a toiler in a dying industry would want to binge on the stuff from time to time. It's no wonder that poor people love it so. It's no wonder that tubby women occasionally get into fights at the McDonald's counter while waiting for a fix. Right after I plow through a huge tray of McDonald's, as that first wave of calorie narcosis swooshes over my nervous system and my synapses unwind and my vocabulary slips and the whole world goes fuzzy-friendly, it just seems amazing that those lunchtime brawls don't happen more often.