McDonald's Monopoly game made me its bitch
Fear the clown-faced dreamkillerby Dave McAwesome
I spent the better part of October shoving McDonald's crap down my gullet. I ravaged my Adonis-like body with grease, deep-fried lettuce and meat-colored cardboard. The more I ate, the more the unholy cravings pulled me back. All in the name of a large cash prize I would never win and a faded dream that would disappear like the opacity of a napkin splashed with french fry oil.
I passed my dollars to the cashier in ritualized precision. The McDonald's Monopoly game pieces came in pairs: one on the fries, one on the drink and one on the meat-thing-sandwich. Match the colors and win. Grand Prize? Five million buckos. The meal itself was not a disposable totem. It was necessary to pique the excitement of what lay under the peel-back stickers. One doesn't open the game pieces before the meal is done. No. Winners are born of sterner stuff.
I collected the pieces in a pile, shaking reason off my brain. The winner was just a Value Meal away. I would return to supplicate myself to a new cashier every day. It was easy. Ordering was a number. Seven yesterday. Five today. It was cheap. Fast. Hot. Finished. So, so easy. I had real turkey, ham, lettuce, mustard and bread at home. There it would sit, rotting. It could not compete with such brutish simplicity in restauranteering.
I felt like I was part of something. Something big. Bigger than you, me and Disneyland combined. I was a vital cog in the Consumer Society. I used my dollars to cast a vote for the injectified beef industry. I was a fully contributing member of all that is normal, mainstream, safe, everyday, mundane and ordinary. I fit in. This was the big machine and I was welcomed as another drop of lubricant for the Great Gear. No bouncer. No vetting. No application. No gatekeeper. No standard. The wide grin of the Hungry Clown welcomed me. I was in. I stood for everyone and everything, and in so doing I was nothing.
When did it all come tumbling down? At what point did my own personal Sylvia Plath Tree of Hope and Possibility dry up to the extent that I was peeling off a fast food restaurant's insta-win game and crossing my fingers, rabbits feet included? This is where I hung my Future hat? What had I done with the bigger dreams? I've spent years trying to pave metaphorical roads with metaphorical steamrollers in real directions towards real ends. All that effort and sweat...Why were all the roads headed into the same ravine?
I check the time. Then the calendar. What year is it? Those roads were once straight and true. There was man at the end of each. Vital, proud men these were. How did the roads come to curve around the hill and aim down, down into the rocky brush? There was a pile of bodies there now. Broken and torn. Maybe they'd waited too long and threw themselves down like lemmings. Maybe they'd fallen after their bones and joints cracked with age and boredom.
In the mirror, I saw the face of the Hungry Clown, but instead of the happy, red nose and broad, white smile, there were grease stains on the cheeks and brackish teeth. The make-up was gone. The wig. The warmth. The pretense. Death is a lithe fellow with quick feet and faster hands. His befanged maw drools without pause. Consumption is thoughtless and constant, driven by instinct. I was baiting him with Big Macs--a lone salmon chumming the water with his brothers. Only a fool would blame the bear in such a spot.
No. Dreams don't die of old age. We murder them.