08 April 2009

"Make a meal of some bright-eyed kid" --Tom Petty

When I was little, I loved McDonald's. That was back in the days when you didn't need a forklift to carry your fries to the car.

The food made me happy. The brightly-colored sign made me happy. The jingle made me happy. Hey, there's a reason they call 'em Happy Meals.

I can remember we (the family unit of Dad, Mum, sister and yours truly) would go on road trips. Back then we'd never heard of Cancun. We went places like Luray Caverns or Ocean City, Maryland and LIKED it! Ah, Ocean City, with it's biblical sand sculptures... bizarre, no? And, yet, Ocean City was ours.

Whatever the road trip, I always wanted to stop at McDonald's which worked out well because they were everywhere. I could spot those arches from two exits away. So, thanks to exceptional whining on my part, we often stopped at a McDonald's (who wants to eat the turkey sandwiches that Mum lovingly prepared and packed when there's a Big Mac congealing under a heat lamp only half-a-mile away?)

So, come with me into the way-back machine...

We pull into a McDonald's and there is a crowd out front. What's this? Have my prayers been answered and they're giving away those thicker-than-cement vanilla shakes? No.

As we get closer, the bright orange fright wig of Ronald McDonald becomes clearly visible. Yeah. Some clown (yeah,yeah) is dressed up as Ronald McDonald and a crowd of children surrounds him. It doesn't look like he's giving anything away. Just doing the "meet and greet" like John McCain stiff arming you and calling you "my friend."*

So, what to do?

Ronald is near the door.

I am filled with dread.

My sister-- three years my senior, she has the considerable height and weight advantage-- starts pushing me to go see Ronald. I am having none of it. She pushes. I push back. She drags. I dig in my heels and pitch a fit.

Sister, all wide-eyed innocence, as if talking calmly to someone screaming bloody murder: L.A., don't you want to see Ronald?

Me: *screaming bloody murder*!!!

Because, really: why? Why would any child want to go up to a strange man, dressed in a disturbing clown outfit and freakish clown make-up? Every message to children is "stay away from strangers." Well, what could be stranger than this?**

And, frankly, I always think it's a great big FAIL when someone tries to take an animated character and impersonate them. It never works. Even with a good costume, it just doesn't translate.

I wish I could say I did something really cool and memorable that day but I just provided the standard tantrum.

Eventually, my parents hauled my laughing sister and the freaked-out little me away from there without a Ronald encounter or a Big Mac.

I never whined for McDonald's again.

*That would have been funny a year ago. Note to self: You may have to stop phoning it in.

**Okay, Grimace was stranger. What the hell was that thing, anyway?


Hammer said...

Oh how I miss Professor Peabody, Sherman, and the wayback machine. Those cartoons are iconic yet timeless, as far as I'm concerned.

When I was in elementary school, a local department store had a guy dress up in a Spiderman costume and pose for pictures with little dudes such as myself. Freaked me right the hell out it did, yessir.

LBluca77 said...

HAHA Grimaca!! My favorite was the Hamburgler.

Liebchen said...

What's Grimace supposed to be, anyway? Also, I'd totally go for the chicken nuggets. I could (and did) devour those things.

fiona said...

Dear LA
If I'd seen "that" Ronald I'd be screaming - right now - Those legs are yuck and is that a wee hint of test-aye-cal peeking out on the right? *shudders*
I've never seen Grimace before, was he a Barney prototype?
Yours Sincerley
Scared Shitless

Kate said...

CLowns and adults dressed as characters need to be outlawed. They are creepy. Completely and utterly creepy. And child molesters.

Herb of DC said...

sorry can't get past the picture of the clown.

glad my therapist appt is this afternoon.

repliderium.com said...

I freaking hate clowns. I freaking hate adults dressed up in creepy costumes.

Titania said...

that clown picture is seriously disturbing. really. That and that I find clowns freakishly scary.

Narm said...

Hey - I didn't give you permission to use that picture of me. That was a private moment with my McDonalds and I don't appreciate this.

Mike said...

I actually know the guy that plays Ronald MaDonald for the St. Louis area. I could set up a special get together if you want.

Mike said...

MaDonald? Who said that?

Kate said...

Man, McDonald's was such a treat when I was a kid! We didn't have one in town until I was in high school so my mom had to drive about 20 minutes to get me McNuggets. It only happened every once in a while, particularly when I discovered Burger King's version. They're still so much better.

lacochran said...

Hammer: I liked those cartoons, too. Silly and wonderful.

LBluca77: 'Cause it's funny when you steal, kids!

Liebchen: An image of someone who lives off McDonald's?

Fiona: I've no idea what Grimace was in those ad campaigns. Great name, too, right?

Kate: I'll vote for that.

Herb of DC, Titania: I should have put a warning banner on it. Sorry.

Repliderium.com: I don't know how it started but I'd like it to stop.

Narm: And you wonder why your body is falling apart.

Mike: I know, it's your "friend". Right. Is this what you do in your off time?

Kate: Burger King has nuggets? I had no idea.