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Anna Daly Kauffman is a Copy Writer and freelance rabbit enthusiast. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Bowling Green State University and currently lives and works in Bowling Green with her husband and two pet rabbits.
A Drive Thru By Anna Daly Kauffman
I don’t eat fast food anymore, but it’s not because of any noble intellectual or ethical reason. I haven’t seen Food, Inc. or Supersize Me or any of those life-altering, movement-creating films. I intentionally avoided them because I loved fast food and didn’t want to be swayed or shamed into quitting. I only stopped hitting up the drive-thru on my lunch break about a year ago because it was making me fat, tired, and sick. But before my metabolism came to a sudden halt and my digestive system went on strike, fast food and I had some wonderful times.
The McChicken vs. Border Patrol
My first love was the McChicken sandwich. It was a simple sandwich of a breaded chicken patty, iceberg lettuce, mayo, and a bun. My family would swing by the drive-thru for dinner a few times a week and I’d get a McChicken and a Coke. Life was good.
Tragically, the McChicken was discontinued. I switched to the Burger King Original Chicken Sandwich reluctantly at first, but soon found it to be a superior fast food cuisine. With a patty almost twice the size of the McChicken and a generous hoagie bun, I felt I had grown into a new level of fast food consciousness. My love of the BK Original Chicken was such that for my 11th birthday, when I had my choice of celebratory meal, I chose to eat BK chicken sandwiches. My mom ordered 40 of them. I ate at least two.
I became reacquainted with the long lost McChicken the summer after my freshman year in high school. I was on a youth group trip in Toronto and we stopped at a McDonald’s just before crossing back into the States. I looked at the menu and saw, in all its Canadian glory, the McChicken.
“They have the McChicken!” I exclaimed to my friends.
“Yeah?” they responded, clearly failing to grasp the enormity of the situation.
“They don’t sell these in the U.S. anymore.”
My way forward was clear. I would spend the remainder of my Canadian currency on McChicken sandwiches then smuggle them back to the States to eat at my convenience. When Border Patrol asked if I had anything to declare, I’d slide the contraband McChickens under my seat and pray they didn’t search the vehicle.
I pulled out my wallet and had five Canadian dollars. “I’ll take five!”
Those McChicken sandwiches didn’t make it back to America, however – not in sandwich form, anyway. I wolfed down every last one of them in the back of the church van. Looking back, I’m confused by my lack of shame about this incident. I was a 15-year-old. I should’ve been concerned with what my friends might think of me. I wasn’t. And my future husband was on that trip. Any man that could witness me scarfing down five McChicken sandwiches in record time and still find me attractive was certainly a keeper.
Soon after we returned to the States, the McChicken was once again on the Dollar Menu.
Your Casserole Fails to Comfort Me
My brother had leukemia when we were kids and spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital and traveling for treatments. This was a difficult couple of years for my family and my parents often lacked the time to cook meals for my other brother and me. To help out, well-meaning families from the church we attended would regularly bring meals by the house for us. A wonderful gesture, they brought all sorts of nutritious dinners that would reheat well and would last us for at least a few days. Most of these dinners were in the casserole category.
I hated casseroles and I felt my lot was miserable. Not only did they bring me one of my least favorite things to eat, but they brought enough of it to last for days. And the casseroles kept coming in what felt like rapid fire succession. I was 11 and my brother had leukemia. Didn’t these people know that I wasn’t interested in eating a damn casserole?
Occasionally, someone would pop up on the meals rotation that didn’t have the time to put together a casserole. Instead, they’d drop off a party pack of tacos from Taco Bell, apologizing profusely for failing to prepare something healthy. I loved these folks. They spoke my language.
$2.37. That was the price of three soft tacos at Taco Bell when I was high school. I remember that price because a drive-thru attendant reminded of it multiple times a day. While many 17-year-olds would rifle through the couch cushions for spare change to buy gas, I’d count all my pennies, nickels, and dimes in search of the magic number $2.37 so I could drive down the road and nosh on some grade F beef. Delicious.
But even then I knew that I had a problem with Taco Bell. For health reasons, I was placed on a yeast-free diet my senior year of high school. It was essentially the Atkins Diet on crack. I ate steaks and vegetables full time and was miserable. One night, I couldn’t take any more of the diet so I scraped together $2.37 and drove to Taco Bell. I followed it up by eating a container of Swiss Cake Rolls and washing them down with Mountain Dew. Screw you, yeast diet.
Rock Bottom: The Conclusion
Fast food and I have a long history. We met when I was young and impressionable and courted for two decades. We went to great lengths to be together. Not even Border Patrol at the U.S./Canada line could stop our love. As the years passed, however, our relationship grew increasingly destructive. This became clear to me about a year ago.
It started when I missed breakfast. I’m a hungry girl and failing to pack a snack to get me through the first four hours of the work day is a crisis. I called my husband and he graciously stopped by my office on his way to work with two breakfast sandwiches from McDonalds. Sausage, egg, and cheese: my favorite. I walked to the parking lot to meet him and quickly hopped in the passenger seat.
“What are you doing?” he asked, thinking he’d just drop off the goods and be on his merry way.
“I can’t let anyone see me eating these,” I replied.
Mere weeks prior to this incident, I won $475 in a 12-week company weight loss competition. For 12 weeks, I was the picture of health and after I won the contest, I felt as though I had an office full of eyes on me waiting for me to slip up and regain the weight. I couldn’t bear the shame of my coworkers seeing me fall off the wagon. No longer a freshman on a youth group trip wolfing down five McChickens in the church van, I was an adult professional hiding in the parking lot, secretly eating breakfast sandwiches. That’s not the kind of life I wanted to live.
To make it worse, I went home sick that day. My body had turned on fast food just as my conscience had. And with that, I was out of the game.
I am thankful though for fast food. I’m thankful that we shared so many hilarious memories. I’m thankful for the comfort fast food gave me when my brother was sick. I’m thankful for the independence I gained by driving to Taco Bell late at night and forking over my $2.37. But I’m not thankful for the stomach aches. And I’m not thankful for the shame. Still, while I don’t see fast food at any point in my future, I don’t have the kind of righteous indignation with it that many do. I look back in laughter, not anger.