As you probably know, the Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as “Black Friday,” is a huge day for shoppers who want to get a good deal on all of their Christmas shopping. After all, nothing says, “You mean a lot to me, so Merry Christmas” like a gift purchased at under half the original cost.
Anyway, my family discovered that flat-screen televisions were on sale, so my dad and I decided to get up early and take advantage of the deal.
We decided to do this last year, too.
A year ago Dad and I got up in the wee hours of the morning and drove to McPherson to purchase a TV that was being sold at a wonderfully reduced price. We got to the store early and grabbed the TV before the store ran out.
We then proceeded to walk around the store for an hour, pushing the cart with our new TV. At some point during that hour, Dad suddenly decided he didn’t really want a TV after all.
So we put it in someone else’s cart and fled the area.
This year we decided to try again on getting a new TV. Dad and I left at 4:30 in the morning and drove to Newton.
During the drive, Dad had an epiphany. “This is stupid,” he said.
I agreed, but I didn’t respond because I was too busy drooling in my sleep.
For those of you who were wondering just how thrifty of shoppers my father and I are, let me just say that you will probably be impressed to hear that we left the store that morning pushing a cart containing plastic white shelves and a large Mega Tub of kitty litter.
But if you were paying attention, this is not the topic of this column. What I have done is something called a digression, which is a word derived from the Latin term digressio—“dig” meaning “a train of thought” and “ressio” meaning “that is completely random, but boosts column lengths by at least 200 words.”
As I was saying, whether you’re aware of it or not, it has been nearly a year since our local McDonald’s shut its doors. Although I’ve missed the occasional stop for a hamburger, I can’t say that I felt something in the universe just wasn’t right.
That is, until two Fridays ago.
Exhausted from our morning of grueling shopping, Dad and I decided to stop at McDonald’s to get some breakfast before returning home so I could go back to bed for another couple hours.
We ordered our food, and as I sat down at a table, I suddenly realized what I had been missing for nearly a year. Walking across the room, I felt several pairs of eyes watching.
These eyes were connected to sockets in bodies that were clothed in baseball caps and coveralls: the local farmers.
Up until that moment, I had completely forgotten the familiar faces that were at our McDonald’s every morning. I was surprised that Newton’s McDonald’s served as a similar meeting place for the local farming men, but the familiarity of the situation was nice.
I had the privilege of listening in on some of their conversation. I wasn’t eavesdropping, per se, as they weren’t necessarily speaking at the 5-foot-diameter volume.
Here are the two main topics of that morning:
1. Politics. If I remember correctly, the main quote of this conversation was, “Clinton is going to blow Bush out of the White House.”
I couldn’t tell if they were being serious or sarcastic about the issue.
Dad caught the end of this conversation as he was carrying our food to the table. “They’re very astute farmers,” he said as they continued on about the platforms of the candidates.
2. Bragging rights. One of the men, possibly the lesser bright of the bunch, related his story about how a colleague was charging too much for some kind of service. It went like this:
“‘That’s too much,’ I says. So he goes asking around, but nobody would take it. So then he was on my front porch, begging me. ‘That’s too much,’ I says. I says, ‘I don’t want nothing to do with you. Get off my porch.’ You ever see an 80-year-old man cry? Well, he was balling like a baby right there on my porch. Can you believe it? The first time he offered it to me, I said, ‘That’s too much.’ So he went around asking other people, but none of them wanted it. So then he was back on my porch. You ever seen an 80-year-old man cry? Well I said, That’s too….’”
The story went on like that until Dad and I finally left.
I guess what this column basically comes down to is that after a year of no one liking to see me smile, I’m getting sentimental for the good old days of greasy hamburgers and local farm talk.
And for the record, no, I have not seen an 80-year-old man cry.
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UFO: McDonald’s three kosher restaurants in Israel are the only McDonald’s in the world where you cannot buy a cheeseburger.
Don’t ask why.