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Thursday, September 13, 2007

High Noon in Oklahoma

I'm driving down a desolate stretch of highway just outside of Tulsa for work. It's raining. The car is a rental...a hulking Dodge Charger in an odd shade of minty green. (The man at the Avis desk seemed disappointed by my blank look when he told me the type of vehicle I was getting as an upgrade. )

There isn't much around. Some refineries. Occasional scraggly trees and mildly rolling hills. And those mysterious rural aluminum structures that resemble oversized tool sheds.

I'm starving and with 20 minutes to get to the location for a shoot, and no prospect of eating in the next 8-10 hours, the outlook for lunch is dicey.

Normally I pick up a bag of nuts at the airport, or just carry my own in a little ziploc and of course, I forgot to pack them on this trip. But what looms on the horizon virtually every couple miles? That tall McDonald's sign. The one they put next to highways so you can see it from really far away. I sort of know I'm doomed. There is no choice. I ask a guy at the gas station if there is a grocery store anywhere nearby since the deli counter can be a good alternative in small towns. Nope, but he tells me, but there IS a SuperWal-Mart a couple towns over. Yeaayy.
So, I make the decision. I'm going to go for it. It's been some time...probably four, maybe five years since I've eaten McDonald's. Why not treat it as an experiment? Or, epicurean research? I've heard that McDonald's has changed. They have salads now.

Since I'm short on time, it makes perfect sense to just go the whole nine yards, and do the drive-thru. As I sit in the car, studying the very busy board/menu, the kid on the other end of the microphone is getting edgy. I am clearly taking too long. The more I ponder the options, the less I know what to order so, starting to panic, I see a familiar phrase. The Quarter-Pounder. Right. Sign me up. The speaker crackles something unintelligible, but I figure not much has changed and I am supposed to pull around. I pick up my meal and pull into a parking space. You KNOW it. I am eating in my car. That's part of the deal, right?

The fast food experience is hard to resist. It's cheap. You don't have to leave your automobile. The food is hot. In this case, I am happy to note, it is impeccably packaged in biodegradeable, recycled cartons and paper. Oh, and, it is soooo bad-good.

The first thing I notice is how salty it all is. Maybe that's what contributes to the sudden rush of greedy hunger that prompts me to eat much faster than I normally do. (Or, maybe it's that odd, furtive feeling I get eating in the car.)
Anyway, I am gulping down big bites of the burger like I have not eaten in days.

And the fries. They are magnificent. Perfectly hot and crisp and, yes, salty. (You may already know that rarely do I meet frites I don't like.)

There is also a gigantic Coke, of which I am only able to drink about a third. How do people manage to put away such quantities of liquid? Admittedly, the carbonated sweetness pairs nicely with the fries.

My solitary lunch is consumed in about four minutes. I quietly belch in the privacy of my vehicle.

Time to go to work.

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