Unhappy Meal

I ran out of the McDonald’s with clumps of rubbery purple foam dangling from my shirt and lodged under my fingernails. I had just emerged from the fight of my life. There was blood dripping from a cut above my left eye and scrapes on my elbows and knees, but you should have seen Grimace.

I don’t know where that rotund purple wannabe comes from, or what his precise affiliation with the McDonald’s corporation or Ronald himself is, but I’m sure I knocked that smug little smile right off of his face. Maybe the physical bruises will blend in with his purple color, but the bruising I levied upon his ego will be perfectly evident for quite some time. It’s not going to be the same happy go lucky, self-confident purple powerhouse heading home to Mrs. Grimace, but a broken, embarrassed, shell of a Grimace who – like a Vietnam vet suffering from post traumatic stress disorder – won’t ever be quite the same. There’s no doubt he’ll be forced to take a few personal days before returning back to his little promotional tour.

You see, knowing Grimace, the Hamburgler, and Mayor McCheese would be at my local McDonald’s distributing free cheeseburgers and pencil sharpeners as part of a promotional marketing blitz, I showed up to the restaurant right at noon, when the giveaway would allegedly take place. I had only intended to pick up a free cheeseburger on my lunch break, but when I found out that Ronald-shaped McDonald’s pencil sharpeners were part of the deal, I was all the happier.

There were some kids already in line at the restaurant and I was willing to wait my turn. I waited for a number of minutes but Grimace, the closest representative to me, refused to provide me with the cheeseburger and pencil sharpener I well deserved. Maybe he thought one of the little brats crowded around my body actually belonged to me. I could accept this misunderstanding as plausible.  After all, how could Grimace know that I was mistakenly given a vasectomy by a negligent doctor who was supposed to perform a vesicotomy to remove a cyst from my bladder that had been causing me a great deal of trouble when it came to urinating.

Then again, how could I have known that the doctor I had been referred to by a “friend” that I used to buy my weed from would be capable of such oversight. Yes, the doctor blindfold me before leading me to his “operating room,” which looked strangely like the kitchen in which I had just been served pita bread and tequila. Yes, the doctor’s credentials looked highly suspect, in that his diploma was a piece of framed cardboard with “Harverd” written in magic marker.  And yes, I was anesthetized with a warm glass of rum garnished with a syringe still lingering around the rim, but his rates were affordable and I was uninsured. This is what you get when the Democrats are in office.

Regardless, after 10-15 minutes Grimace was still ignoring my repeated pleas for what was promised to all of those who arrived at McDonald’s between the hours of twelve and one o’clock pm on this particular Friday.  My patience with this giant purple gumdrop-shaped calamity was beginning to wear thin.

Several times, when he would go to distribute gifts to the smaller children navigating around me, I would make a quick reach to try and snatch them before the children could, but Grimace was quick to withdraw the offer, dodging my attempt and pressing the cheeseburgers and pencil sharpeners directly into the children’s arms and chests. More than a few times he turned to me and shook his whole body back and forth, each time with surmounting urgency. However, his fixed expression prevented me from knowing whether he was shaking to indicate anger, disappointment, or even pity. Or maybe Grimace was just trying to maintain his center of gravity which was surely tested by his awkward and cumbersome shape.

As twenty minutes, then close to a half hour passed, my frustration turned to outrage.  What did Grimace think? That I got my jollies by going to McDonald’s restaurants across the country on the off chance that there might be a promotional giveaway and I would be blessed with the opportunity to stand amid a swarm of small children whining and clamoring and carrying on, their parents looking on at me with disgust in their eyes? As if I was enjoying their little nuisances prattling around my hips, legs, and rear.

Well to set the record straight for Grimace and anyone else wondering, I’m no pervert. I just happen to believe in the American dream. An American dream that says we’re all entitled to the bounty of free corporate giveaways, I even more so than these little trolls.  After all, it was their parents who paid for their free McDonald’s binges. But the money for my Happy Meals and McNuggets comes right from my own pocket. This was blatant age discrimination and if Grimace would be party to it perhaps other McDonald’s icons would represent the corporation more fairly.

Having realized that Grimace, likely a communist pedophile and ageist, was not going to accommodate me, I moved on to who I thought would be a more open minded McDonald’s representative in Mayor McCheese. Surely, the product of a democratic election would better represent the ideals of this great nation and understand my plight.

As mayor, Mayor McCheese would certainly have the authority to right the wrongs rendered unto me by the evil Grimace. So I made my way through the mob of children, working myself up close enough to the good Mayor that I might make my plea.

“Mayor, excuse me Mr. Mayor,” I said, “I’ve been trying to get a cheeseburger and pencil sharpener for a half hour, but Grimace wouldn’t give them to me. He’s prejudiced and maybe a communist pedophile. Please could you hand me a cheeseburger and sharpener so I can get back to the work?”

But my appeal fell on deaf ears, if Mayor McCheese did in fact have ears, which it didn’t appear he did.

“Mr. Mayor, please, I really have to get back to work, and if you won’t give me the cheeseburger and pencil sharpener who will? I don’t trust the Hamburgler, he’s a criminal for God’s sake. He and Grimace are probably in cahoots.”

Still nothing. Sorely disappointed, I decided my next, and perhaps only, option was to bluff Grimace. I moved back across the floor towards him, the crowd of children beginning to dwindle.

“Look Grimace, I just talked to Mayor McCheese and he says that this promotional giveaway is for everyone not just those you judge as being worthy. He says if you don’t give me a cheeseburger and pencil sharpener, he’s going to revoke your right to participate in McDonald’s marketing campaigns. His authority comes right from the clown himself, and I’m sure he’s the one that stuffed the ballot boxes, so you better listen.”

Grimace continued to ignore me. It was now a quarter ‘til one and I was still without burger and sharpener. Soon I’d have to get back to work and I was hungry. This was unacceptable. I stood waiting for Grimace to make the right decision, but he didn’t.  That’s when it happened.

A child I had seen served, a child whose cheeseburger and pencil sharpener I had attempted to intercept, returned to Grimace who presented him with yet another cheeseburger – and furthermore a gentle pat on the head. He would go the extra mile to touch the kid. That was all I could take.

“Alright Grimace, you win I’ll just go to Burger King or Arby’s, somewhere middle aged divorcees with dead end jobs are appreciated.”

I turned my back and began walking away, towards the door, as if I were really giving up. Well, guess what I’m no quitter! I turned around and ran full sprint at Grimace. I buried my shoulder into his chest and took him hard into the counter, igniting an eruption of cheeseburgers and plastic pencil sharpeners. Grimace and I hit the ground, and next thing I knew the Hamburgler and McCheese were trying to restrain me.  I never intended this to be their fight but the turnstiles had been struck down and I was ready to take on all comers.

The Mayor put his arm under mine and tried to pry me off of Grimace. I threw an elbow back and connected with his giant hamburger head, turning it ninety degrees to the left. Sensing he was at a disadvantage, I kicked at his legs until he tripped and careened into the nearby trashcans. The print on the cans said “Thank You.”

“No need to thank me,” I thought to myself coolly. “That deposit is on the house.”

The Hamburgler took a step back, slightly startled by the thrashing his friends were receiving. But like the last generic ninja left in a Steven Segal fight scene, he had no choice but to step up and take his beating like a man. Slightly out of breath and my blood coursing with adrenaline, I said, “Bring it on jailbird.”

I got to my feet and he came at me trying to grab, but I pulled his hat down in front of his face to disorient him. Then I brought my knee into his abdomen. He doubled over in pain and gasped for air. I pushed him towards an empty booth, which he clumsily toppled into. I’d expected more from a guy who’d spent time in the clink.

Then I saw the looks of horror on the faces of all the children, parents, and McDonald’s employees, and I began to realize the magnitude of the altercation.

“I… I’m sorry,” I said.

I was about to explain that I had just wanted a cheeseburger and a pencil sharpener to keep in my desk at work when I felt two large purple arms grab me from behind.  Grimace had gotten up off the floor and had me in a bear hug with his fat mitts tightly squeezing my chest. I struggled, but his grip was strong and I couldn’t pry myself loose. I saw Mayor McCheese regaining his composure. The Hamburgler sat up. They were rallying.

Grimace held fast while McCheese lowered his head like a bull and took aim to charge me.  He stomped his loafer-clad feet and took off full speed towards me with his hamburger head poised for a direct hit into my sternum. The Hamburgler was looking on with a sense of satisfaction as he witnessed the assault from his booth. He was grinning with delight as he watched the momentum of the fight turn against me, his eyes glittering with anticipation. But I clinched and pulled at Grimace with all my might, tearing tufts of purple foam as I pried his arms from around my waist. I dropped to the floor just seconds before Mayor McCheese collided with him. Both toppled over the counter, taking one of the registers with them.

On the floor I grabbed two cheeseburgers, got up, and bolted for the door. The Hamburgler rose and tried to stop me, but he couldn’t get a handle as I stormed by pelting him in the face with one of the cheeseburgers before flying through the doors and making my exit. I didn’t run to my car. If the police came they’d be looking for it. There were too many witnesses. I’d have to hide out and return later.

I ran across the street, cars screeching to a stop, their horns blaring though my brain. I ducked into a nearby Burger King knowing no McDonald’s spokesman would be warmly received there and that I would be sheltered from any further attacks by my assailants. I’d be granted asylum for sure, possibly even praised as a hero and knighted by the Burger King himself. But not yet.

I rushed into the bathroom as quickly as I could. I had to regain my composure, clean the foam out from under my fingernails, and scoff down a hard-earned cheeseburger. But more than anything else, I had to take a piss. My bladder was killing me.

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