We went to the Hell that is Drive In Fast Food the other day. I finally caved in after Much Harrassment from Youngest.
Just a Few Stipulations, I said. No burgers. No fizzy drinks. Eat carrots in car on way. Eat apple on the way back. Go for walk afterwards.
Middle son was playing Basket Ball so went with Daughter and Youngest.
Pushed our way through the big door and into that familiar frying smell.
It was Heaving.
No tables free. People crammed everywhere with lots and lots and lots of children.
Quite Noisy Ones Really.
A gloomy line waiting for their turn to order.
Heart sinking we approached the counter. Someone who was twelve appeared to be in charge.
'Yep?' he asked. Wearing a paper hat. What is this, Christmas?
I gave him our order.
Children's food arrived in Box.
Do you ever give your child breakfast in a Box? Lunch? Supper? Do you go sidling up to your husband or wife and say,
'Hey darling, do you fancy a box of lunch?'
This is because Normal People eat off Plates.
However, here in MacLand, we have Boxes.
Twelve Year Old hurled in chips, nuggets, toy and some wipe thing that smelled of Toxic Citrus Mix.
Took our Boxes and go and wander round MacHell until we spy filthy table in corner with people leaving. We sit down when they go. I fuss round, getting rid of detritus and wiping down table with Ever So Handy Wipes that I keep in my bag. Anal. But useful. (Anal as in Anal Retentive... not as in Anal Use)(Oh, god, why is it that by explaining it becomes all Rather Unpleasant?)
I peer into Boxes. Nestled in the bottom are grey bags of chips, another bag with Nuggets and a bottle of Orange Juice. And the Toy.
(Nuggets? Who thought that name up? Don't they know its Childspeak for Poo?)
We all start taking things out of boxes and opening impossibly difficult bottles of juice. We have a jolly little chat about when Daughter was sick last time we came. (On floor next to place where you order.)
Youngest weeps because his toy is not the same as Daughter's. Daughter hands hers over without a word and Youngest stops crying. Tears are still on his lashes as he gazes at new toy.
I look about.
Everyone is Just Eating. Intent on their burgers or chips. Taking Enormous Bites and then chewing with huge bulging cheeks. Chew, chew, chew. Bite. Chew, chew, chew. And Staring. At Wall. Or Floor. Or inside their Burger.
No one is talking. Or chatting. Or laughing.
Quite frankly, they are all having a Shit Time. So am I.
I am interrupted in my reverie by family on next door table.
Mother has Laid the Table. Seriously. With cloth. They have neat Tupperware boxes full of carrot, apple, grapes and oranges. Father is trying to persuade Son, aged 2,to have some Organic Yoghurt. Mother and Father are stuffing their faces with burgers, chips, fizzy drinks and MacFatBastardIceCream.
Have to stare as am Staggered by the Scene.
Youngest looked over at them too. Mouth full of chips.
Can I have one of their grapes? he asked.
Why? I asked.
Don't really want this, he said. It's a bit boring and a bit yucky.
This is from the boy who has pleaded and pleaded with his Mother to go to 'Donalds.
No, you can't. Eat your nuggets, I say, in MacMother Mode.
Can I have his? asks Daughter. And can we come back here tomorrow?
And this from the daughter who didn't want to come because it made her sick. Literally.
No, we can't, I say. Eat your chips.
Eat at home.