Growing up, my mom cooked almost ALL of our meals...partially because my dad worked A LOT, but mostly because whenever he decided to cook, he made an unbelievable mess. I'm not exaggerating. It was brutal. When my dad had finished making something as simple as a fried egg, it looked like 3 crazed toddlers had crumbled bits and pieces of meat on the counters and floors; cracked eggs while spinning around (ballerina style) and then spread a fine coating of flour over it all.
Therefore, on the days my mom had to work and was unable to be our chef for the evening, she tried her best to encourage my dad to take us "out" to eat. Nine times out of ten, we visited the scariest clown on this planet...that's right...Ronald Fuckin' McDonald.
If my dad was feeling energetic, he'd let us go inside this fine dining establishment and we would come close to breaking our necks on the rusty hamburglur playland as he read the newspaper; but most of the time, he was exhausted from work and just wanted to hurry home to watch Star Trek...so he would zip through the drive thru.
On one particular evening, we didn't exactly zip through...it was more like waiting in traffic during rush hour...in downtown Chicago...when he President was in town.
Star Trek started every night at 6:00, and this was way before the age of DVR. My father would rush home to watch an episode he had most likely seen at least 8 times before...and then he would try to engage anyone who would listen in a conversation about "the fascinating galaxy" (...a topic most kids are super enthused to talk about...)
So the night of the slow line at McDonald's started like any other. My dad hurriedly asked us all what we wanted and put in our order. He then gunned it to slam on the brakes.
As we waited in line, I watched my father get more and more agitated as he stared at the minutes creeping by on the digital clock in his old Chevette.
Curse words were escaping his lips in increased succession as the line failed to move. Most likely, he was thinking about the famous opening line that he was worried about missing...because of course, everyone knows you can't watch a show about dorky grown men wearing unitards unless you hear an inspring explanation of WHY they like to wear these tight scuba suits and shoot guns that looked like super soakers at scary looking muppets.
If you didn't notice...I fucking hated that show, but even I have to admit, that intro part is nice and dramatic...I still remember that whole schpeal.
Space...the FINAL frontier. These are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprize...blah, blah, blah...to BOLDLY go where NO man has gone before. (Cue corny music...)
My dad is huffing and puffing all the way to the head of the line, and finally about 20 minutes later, we made it. It was 6:01 and my father had officially missed the beginning of his favorite show and he was PISSED.
As the little doors of the window jerked open, he wasted no time in letting his complaints be known.
"I thought this was supposed to be FAST food!!"
The teenager waiting to take our money looked so startled, I half expected him to drop the money my father was shoving into his hand.
"Um? Sir? What? Um...the total is $16.79 please."
My father shook his head, exasperated.
"I gave you a 20 dollar bill!"
The boy's face turned purple with embarassment as he looked down at the bill in his hand.
"Oh...right. Um...ok. Hold on. Sorry."
A few more minutes passed until we had our change and our food. The mini window had barely closed before my dad was flooring it out of that parking lot, almost running over a family of four on his way out.
We pulled into our driveway, my dad threw the car in park and hustled into the house, dragging me behind him.
I couldn't wait to tell my brother and sister what they'd missed.
"Papa freaked out in the drive thru and yelled at the guy who gave us our food!!" I whispered excitedly.
My brother looked unamused by this as he shoved fries into his mouth, but my sister froze and stared at me in horror.
"No. No he didn't. How old was the guy who waited on you?? What did he look like?!"
I did my best to render a police artist sketch for her which didn't seem to help much. (I was 8. The drawing basically looked like a goat with a gorilla's body...)
In between bites, my brother said, "Oh, stop worrying. I'm sure it was no one you knew. You don't know EVERYONE, Miss Popularity."
Katie rolled her eyes and said, "Yes I do! Shut up!"
It was then that I realized that my Chicken McNuggets were no where to be found. I tried not to panic (I know what you're thinking..."panic"?! That's a bit extreme, isn't it?! Not for me...Look. Back then, I had a list of about 10 foods I deemed suitable for eating, Chicken McNuggets being one of them...and I knew our house did NOT have any of the other items...I was hungry and I was irrational...now that I'm 34, I'm up to at least 15 items of food I will eat so I've totally improved.)
Once I realized that..indeed, there was no food for me (to be said in the soup nazi's voice..."NO FOOD FOR YOU!", I did the best thing I knew how to do back then. I burst into tears and complained to the head honcho.
"PA...PA!!!!!!!!! You didn't get me my chicken nuggets and now I just have to STARVE!" (Some may call this dramatic, but I like to say "enthusiastic"...)
My dad looked up from his Big Mac, annoyed to tear himself away from Dr. Spock.
"What? They're in the bag...aren't they?"
"Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!" I wailed.
At that very moment, a commercial for McDonald's ironically popped onto the tv. Ronald McDonald was tickling a small child as he addressed us, the viewers, saying, "Hi there! Do you wish there was place to get an inexpensive meal for your family? You're in luck. Come to your local McDonald's...it's a good time for the great taste of McDonald's."
That was it. My dad was off the couch and in the kitchen, flipping through the phone book in a fit of rage.
My sister was eyeing him suspiciously. "Papa? What are you looking for??"
He didn't answer her. He just started jabbing at the keys of the phone hanging on the far wall of the kitchen.
"Yeah. Hello?? Yeah, you can help me. I just went through your drive through, which by the way took FOREVER, and now I'm home, just trying to eat and relax and my youngest daughter is crying because you assholes didn't give us her food!!!"
Now my sister looked like she was going to cry, too.
"You baby! Why did you have to make such a big deal about it?! I KNOW people who work there!!!! Great. Great! ERIN!!! Why did you have to make such a big deal about it?! How am I supposed to go to school tomorrow?!"
Now I felt guilty.
"Maybe they won't know it was us..." I ventured.
Just then, I noticed my dad's voice getting louder.
"YEAH! YEAH, you can have my name! It's BLAH!. Larry BLAH!!!!" (of course, "blah" is a substitute for our actual family name...)
I looked at my sister again. "Ok, so they know our name now. Maybe it's not so bad..maybe..."
My dad was on a roll now. He was still yelling into the phone when we heard the familiar Star Trek theme coming from the living room.
Trying to be helpful, I pointed this out to him in an effort to get him off the phone. He must have heard it though because he was coming to the pinacle of his tirade.
"I'M JUST TRYING TO FEED MY FAMILY!!!!!! YOU'RE GOD DAMN RIGHT YOU'RE GOING TO GIVE ME A CREDIT!" slam
That was that. My sister nearly died of shame the next day, and I'm pretty sure she spit in the Lipton Soup she made for me that night, but on the bright side, we bust a gut laughing about it when we recall that story nowadays.
Ah...rage...ain't it amusing??? (20+ years later...that is.)