We’ve all been hit by those late night cravings at some time or another in our lives. And generally, late at night, there is rarely a healthy selection to choose from. Thus, the golden arches, McDonald’s, rotten Ronnie’s, McDee’s. Whatever you want to call it, we’ve all fallen victim to it. Or to some semblance of it, I am sure. This story, this unfortunate tale about a young man and his ill-fated fast food is one produced by lived experience. My lived experience.
It takes place mere inches passed my teenage years. I was fresh from basic training and residing on base in Southern Ontario. Being so new to the army I rarely bucked routine. This included meal times. Monday, chicken. Tuesday, Roast, burnt, but roast. Wednesday, Steak, not rare nor well done – shoe leather, more like. Thursday, veal or some mystery meat… You get the idea… Each day of each week was the same culinary delectation served over and over again for months on end. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the food was bad. It wasn’t, not really, anyway. It just kind of lacked creativity and selection. As such, the occasional venture from base to the local Sandwich shop or rusted down diner wasn’t out of the ordinary for soldiers that had their civilian vehicles with them. I was not one such soldier. So, generally this meant that I was at the mercy of our army cooks and their chosen aliments.
However, weekends were a different story. Many soldiers would cab it into the next closest city to enjoy the nightlife and ample amount of pub fare. This often meant sharing the cost of the cab and thus making leaving the base more of an option to partake in rather then spending your hard-earned Private’s salary on a solo trip into town.
One such weekend, me and the lads went out for a night of pure debauchery. Bouncing from pub to pub and club to club until finally our ringing ears had had enough. It was time to go home. Walking in exaggerated serpentine pattern, we made our way down the seemingly narrowing walkway of the sidewalk. Mike had called a cab, so, we were all on the lookout. Sadly, in our state, every passing pair of headlights were called out as the arriving taxi!
“Hey! That’tss the scab… Never mind… it’s snot it! Hiccup!”
The cab would eventually arrive… finding us, of course. I suppose it’s not hard to find a gaggle of relatively fit, shaven-head urchins standing on a street corner. Bless those cabbies, putting up with our obnoxiously loud and slurred colloquy’s while driving us back to base every weekend.
On the way back, someone had broken through the noise of competing voices and made mention of getting some food. Great idea!
Mike was upfront with our Godsend of a taxi driver and requested that he stop at the McDonald’s just outside of the base. He was happy to oblige, he was about to sit in a drive-thru while six-drunken soldiers made food orders – more bank for him – and it was.
I made my order known come my turn;
“Hi, Ma’am, Um, I’ll get the McSchicken, and a cokes, please.”
“You want large fries, or regular?”
“Lets-better go with-uh large, thanks!”
“Okay, please pull forward to the next window.”
We got our chosen transfat bounties handed to us throughout the ride back to base. I didn’t touch mine until the cabbie had stopped and we had dismounted. I made a decision that I was going to wait until I was back in my shared room before diving into anything. That was the plan anyway… didn’t turn out that way. My young, starving stomach sent word from below that I was to tear in through the brown paper bag and retrieve that stupendous poultry delight and inhale it savagely! Not being one to argue with my stomach too often, I reached in and withdrew the McChicken and peeled back the lid of its carrying box before lifting it to my mouth and taking a gigantic and poorly coordinated bite from it. I could feel the mayo from inside the bun stick to the corners of my mouth and slink outward to the sides of my cheeks. Bits of shredded lettuce dangled on my chin before falling helplessly to the waxy floor below.
I got to the floor my room was on and yanked back on the door leading into the hallway. I was almost home, eat this and pass-out, I thought to myself.
Unfortunately, the universe had other ideas in mind for me. I looked up from my ever-deforming burger to see that there was someone standing outside of my barracks room door. It was a woman. She was conversing with one of my roommates. As I got closer, I received confirmation from my eyes that the woman standing there in all her magnificence, was Boisonneault. Boisonneault, was to this day one of the most punishingly beautiful women I have ever laid eyes on. And there she was, standing at my door. On any other time, this would have been a moment scripted from fantasy. But currently, I was as drunk as a midnight sailor on furlough, adorned by fallen lettuce and sticky mayonnaise! Not a good look.
I had already sauntered too far down the hall to be able to turn and go back, though that was a thought that had come to mind. But, before I knew it, both she and my roommate turned their respective heads towards my direction and began to take me in with their sight.
“Hey, Henny!” Lavoie said. “Just getting back, eh? How was it?”
Currently churning a mouth full of synthetic chicken, I was unable to respond right away, though I tried through a series of disjointed head-nods.
“That good, uh? Atta boy!”
“Henny, how are ya, hun?” Boisonneault said with angelic tone.
Finally able to swallow and respond I informed them both that I was good and the night was a success, as evident by the sloughing McChicken in my hand.
“McChicken, good call, Henny!” Her voice sounded like music. Even if it was competing against the fog that had now rolled into my head.
I had expected that now that we had culminated our cordials, that Lavoie would move and allow access to the room and then I could sneak in and hide my hideousness from the fair maiden standing before me. Nope. He did not move. Nor did she. Instead, they simply returned to their conversation, occasionally throwing a glance towards me to make me feel included. This was bad. It was bad because I was still ravenously hungry, yet I have a thing where I cannot eat in front of people who are not eating. So, I stood there with McSloppy chicken in hand, just waiting. Waiting and offering isochronous smirks when looked at. It was also bad because this gave my drunk soldier’s brain time to confabulate with me introspectively. And this was very bad because as drunk as I was, I really couldn’t afford to concentrate on numerous things at once, as such, my hand began to loosen its grip of the McChicken.
It loosened to the point where mayo took over and offered the Poulet a method of escape – slide out from the bun! And slide it did. The next sequence of events has since transformed into memories of slow-motion for me. Thanks, Brain. The breaded delight began a methodical freefall while causing a swooshing sound as it flipped and twirled along its descent. I swear, we three had time to watch it fall and remark at the same time, “McChicken down!!!”
It landed with an uproarious splatter and smack to the hallway floor at my feet. All I could do was gawk at it. And that’s precisely what I did, until a soothing voice commanded my attention.
“Oh no, Henny, your McChicken! McChicken down!”
I responded with what I had hoped was a casual and handsome retort;
“Yeah, nah, it’ss sfine! I was done anyways.”
Lavoie countered; “But, you have like, half a bun and shit left?!”
“Yeah… I’m – I got full. Full”
“Well that’s fine then, right?” My angel spoke. She and Lavoie then reengaged in conversation with the occasional glance thrown at the now deceased McChicken carcase lain at my toes. Fearing that Boisonneault may think me a cretin if I bend down to pick this up (yes, this is drunk brain at work) and knowing that I could not rightly leave it where it lay, I instead decided that using my heal in a backward shoveling motion would be the right way to remove said downed chicken from sight. That’s right, I extended one foot and attempted to sneakily slide the McChicken to the rear of my person so as to shield poor Boisonneault’s eyes from it.
Surprisingly, it worked! Neither of them saw a thing! Success!!!
However, as mentioned, they had reengaged with one another, rather intently so. This meant that Lavoie was still not moving from the doorway. This meant that I was still stranded beside a beautiful woman, all the while looking the beast. And yes, it meant further introspective plotting and planning from drunk brain.
Drunk brain sent word from above that I was still torturously hungry. I reminded drunk brain that we had experienced a culinary casualty and that we were now left wanting. Drunk brain gave coordinates to my eyes and forced them to look at my hand – there, in my hand was the surviving remnants of Cpl. McChick. Bun, mayo, lettuce…
eat it! No, she’s standing right there!
Eat it!! Brain, you know I can’t!
EAT IT GOD DAMNIT, IT’S THE ONLY WAY WE’RE GOING TO SURVIVE!
And with that, drunk brain commanded that I lift the now flaccid and dampened sesame seed bun towards my mouth. I obliged, helplessly so. He was right, we might die, we were so hungry! In one fluid motion I opened my mouth and guided the disintegrating bun and its raining mayo towards my cavernous face hole. With unsteady hand I bounced off my bottom lip and chin, then upper lip and tip of the nose before successfully biting down onto the gelatinous bun and its seeds. No matter, the mission was a success. I now had food headed for the starved village of stomach.
It was at this time that I noticed a deafening silence sweep through the halls. I looked up to investigate. To my horror (and hers), both Boisonneault and Lavoie had ceased talking to one another and had seen this entire encounter take place.
“Bro, did you just eat, mayo, bun and lettuce?!”
I needed to deny this at once! So, I opened my mouth and tried to rebuke Lavoie’s claim. Lamentably, as I did, not only was my response suffocated in a wallowing vat of saliva, mayo, lettuce and bun, but the vehemence in which I had attempted to speak my denial caused a sudden ejection of saliva, mayo, lettuce and bun! A projectile that left my mouth with the force of a bullet from a gun and landed with heft onto the chin of Boisonneault!
I watched as she winced and jerked in place at the sudden slap of McChicken to her face. I was mortified. There was a brief unspoken void between all of us. Lavoie broke that with a cacophonous belt of laughter as he doubled over, finally moving from the fucking doorway!
I knew that I had to apologize, and I really wanted to, but thing is, as is the case anytime you consume fast food – I now had to use the bathroom – very quickly. So, I began moving swiftly while orating my apology aloud as I penguin stepped passed a rather perturbed woman and a roommate gyrating with hearty guffaw!
I slammed the door to the bathroom and ensured that I remained there until such time that I was sure Boisonneault had left.
Come morning, I was still in the bathroom. Boisonneault hadn’t spent the night or anything, I had just passed out is all. I woke to a thunderous headache and a mouth that was desiccated to the point of desert conditions. I emerged quietly from the bathroom and was greeted by the sight of sleeping roommates. I slinked out into the hall, I was going to find a water fountain and cure the first part of my self-induced ailment.
I closed the door quietly behind me and turned to head down the hall. Before I could take another step, I was frozen in place. Residing there before me was a reminder of the heinous incidents of last nights debacle – a pathetic looking, half ingested, mayo lathered McChicken patty!
*Side note… Boisonneault and I never dated… just in case you thought that might happen… it didn’t. *