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Monday, December 06, 2004

Putting my money where my McNuggets are

Maybe not everybody has had those relationships where some of starkest memories are those of screaming, throwing glass dolphins, searching the house for missing psychedelic drugs, coming back later to retrieve borrowed VCRs, and driving nude. They are relationships best left unmentioned, especially since many of us have moved on to good partners who don't like screaming and have never thrown anything in anger.

However, even after we've moved on from years-long partnerships in pain, we sometimes find we've taken things away from the relationship that we didn't expect and from which we can't extricate ourselves. For instance, from the above-described relationship I took away an occasional desire to drown lima beans in butter and black pepper. I don't understand it. I'd never had lima beans before I started dating the girl and I've probably only had them a dozen times since. Perhaps it says a lot about the relationship that this is one of the most powerful memories I retain.

Well, there is one more. And it's what brings me here today.

During the 21 months we spent together, we ate a lot of fast food (another sign a relationship may be on its way into the great grease vat in the sky). McDonalds was a common meal for us. This particular girl got me started dipping my french fries in chicken McNugget sauce. Sometimes hot mustard. Sometimes sweet and sour sauce. Rarely, but occasionally, BBQ sauce.

And so for years after we parted ways, every time I order fries, I asked for a couple of McNugget sauces.

Anyone who knows me knows that almost five years ago a local McDonalds franchise took it upon itself to charge me for McNugget sauce. And anyone who knows me knows what happened as a result. We called it the McBoycott and its the longest-running boycott among my group of friends. During the past five years, I've estimated we've cost McDonalds thousands in dollars in lost revenue as a result of the twenty cents it charged me for McNugget sauce.

I had no plans to ever lift the McBoycott. I've not missed McDonald's food (with the exception of the McRib, which for some reason always made me quite happy). My health has been better as a result. And it narrows down my choices for the horrible food I have to to eat sometimes because my job doesn't allow for many sit-down lunches. It's also helped me find many great dining establishments that I otherwise might not have looked for. One of those places is a great Japanese grill and sushi place called Joy of Tokyo. I get takeout from there once or twice a month.

A few weeks ago, Mrs. Otis came home with The Joy. I greeted her like a dog that's been left alone all day. But instead of rubbing my belly when I rolled over, Mrs. Otis looked at me gravely.

"We have a problem," she said.

"Is it that I peed on the carpet when you came in? Because that only happens every once in a while."

In fact, the problem was worse than I'd expected. The Joy had charged Mrs. Otis for additional sauces.

I sat picking at my food, lost in thought, trying to ignore the obvious.

"You know what this means," the wife said.

I knew. What's good for the goose is good for The Joy.

So, I was faced with a choice. I either had to make that my last supper of Joy or call off the McBoycott.

I've weighed the decision for the past few weeks. After a lot of thought, I decided McDonalds has paid its penance. My friends and I will likely live several months longer as a result of our not eating the food.

I'm still quite conflicted about my decision. And I don't have any really good reasons for it. However, in my heart, I know I'm making the right call.

So...as of December 24th of this year (the five year anniversary of the McBoycott), the boycott is off.

I still encourage everyone to consider the reasons behind our actions and avoid eating too much of the horrible food that will eventually kill you if you make a habit of eating it.

My thanks to everyone who joined me in this endeavor. You made a difference. Your heart and arteries thank you. And I thank you.

Now, if you need me, I'll be dipping my sushi in McNugget sauce.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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