Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man call McDonald’s the “M” store when they see the impossibly huge and ubiquitous highway signs. They remain blissfully ignorant of the desires created by the fast food giant, and I want to keep it that way as long as possible. I am not naive, and I realize that McDonald’s is part of American life–for worse, but I like to think that I am not among those in its hold. I can recount the significant times I’ve been in a McDonald’s and I am aware of the times that I adamantly refuse. In some ways, I too, remain blissfully ignorant of the fast food giant.
My aversion to McDonald’s predates Fast Food Nation, though it certainly cemented my resolve. My connection to the fast food giant goes back, way back. I was a counselor at West Lawn Day Camp for two summers, and each summer, we took out 5-13 year olds to the local McDonald’s at least once during the six-week long camp. Kids were allowed to order one item from a list that included ice cream sundaes or the deep fried pies (do they still sell those things?). I also remember that we, the counselors, were told that we could order whatever we wanted, and some of us took that to heart (and maybe to our graves?).
Later, when I was in college, a boyfriend always stopped at McDonald’s on road trips, and always ordered two cheeseburgers. It was like some sort of ritual that had to happen with no substitutions. I ordered a plain burger, or once in a while a chicken sandwich. McDonald’s didn’t have many options then, nor did they supersize.
Ed has taken Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man to McDonald’s a couple of times, both times when he took them to movies without me, and then for “ice cream” afterwards. They still seem to associate McDonald’s with that somewhat innocuous treat, but still, I prefer that they eat my own home made ice cream. However, I can’t complain when Ed gives me an afternoon to write or cook or take a bike ride.
The whole fast food reality is something that I have been able to avoid most of my life, partly because my family just never ate out — it was a luxury that wasn’t part of our budget. Later, it was something that never appealed to me, and then when I had the resources to make my own decisions, it was something that I didn’t desire — food for me is something I want to enjoy and appreciate, and fast food is decidedly not that.
I do hope that Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl will continue to resist the allure of fast food, and that they will grow in appreciation of food, real food. It’s tough, in this world, to resist the pull of advertising and peer pressure.