by Mike McHugh
Fast food is a lot like pornography. Both are booming businesses, yet no one admits to being a regular customer. Well, I’m just going to come out and say it; I like fast food. I’d tell you that I mostly go for the salads, but you wouldn’t believe me any more than if I told you I read Playboy for its provocative articles.
When my wife and I go out for fast food, I like to get the combo meal. I don’t go so far as to “super size” it, although for the sake of my marriage I probably should.
The scene that plays out whenever we go to a burger joint is as predictable as when Charlie Brown tries to kick the football with Lucy holding. “I just want a sandwich,” my wife would say.
“Are you sure you don’t want fries with that?” I’ve asked the question more times than every cashier on McDonalds’ payroll.
“No, just the sandwich,” she’d confirm.
“Now look,” I’d protest. “Every single time we come here, you say that you don’t want French fries. Then when our order comes, you always end up eating half of mine.”
Next would come a plausible explanation as to why this time is different, and I should believe her when she promises not to mooch any of my fries. “This week when I weighed in at Weight Watchers, I gained three-tenths of a pound,” she might say. “It’s embarrassing getting up on the scale in front of everybody and having them tell you that you gained. That’s why I’m just getting a junior hamburger, no cheese.”
“Oh, all right,” I’d concede. I proceed to order a medium combo, which has just the right amount of fries for me. (37, to be exact.) Apparently, I didn’t learn a thing from all those years of exposure to the wisdom contained in newspaper comics. When our tray comes and we sit down, surprise! My 37 fries suddenly take on more appeal to my wife than losing three-tenths of a pound.
I don’t know whether women like my wife simply like to exercise their unalienable right to change their minds, or if they’re just doing these things to humiliate the men in their lives. If it’s the latter, they needn’t bother. We men don’t need any help in that department.
We’ve got self-humiliation down pat, and it’s no wonder. Many of us spend whole Saturdays on the golf course honing the art to perfection. Others do it on Friday nights at the karaoke bar. I like to get my practice at the bowling alley, where I once got a strike on lane three when my team was on lane eleven.
Maybe one day we’ll walk into a burger joint and I’ll go ahead and super-size the order, regardless of what my wife says. But I’m not so sure. I still hold out hope for that one time when she lets me have all my fries. After all, one time even Lucy didn’t pick up the football.
But on that occasion, Charlie Brown missed, kicking Lucy’s hand instead. So maybe that’s why so many women see fit to change their minds. They’ve got to defend themselves somehow against all this oafishness that we guys think of as masculinity.