The Secret of the Golden Arches

After Mass yesterday, I asked Bill what he wanted to do for breakfast. He was in a hurry because he had to complete some legal work so that he could drop it off at his client’s house early in the afternoon.  “How about McDonald’s? he asked. My heart sunk, just a bit. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a McDonald’s hater, at least for breakfast. I admit to enjoying a Sausage McMuffin with Egg on occasion. But at my last physical, my doctor had suggested I try to cut down on sodium. It seems my blood pressure, while still not horrible, is threatening to jump to much higher levels. In fact, sometimes it sticks it’s tongue out at me and takes a practice jump. Given the fact that Italian sausage factored high in my diet the past few days, I thought I should give my body a break.

“Why don’t we go through the drive-through to save some time, and then you can have your Sausage McMuffin and I can fix myself a scrambled egg at home?” I suggested.

So, we — seemingly along with most of southeast Denver — got into the McDonald’s drive-through debaucle, er, line. It’s not pretty, my friends. It’s the two-lanes-that-then-must-turn-into-one-lane-to-pay that causes the problem. It brings out the worst in humankind, I’m afraid. In the time we spent in line, we could have eaten breakfast at the Brown Palace. Live and learn.

But it made me think of something I recently read: According to a survey conducted by Food and Wine magazine, America’s favorite fast food restaurant is Chick-fil-A. The chicken restaurant ranked number one overall in fast food loyalty. While most of the people I know like Chick-fil-A, I call B-to-the-S that it beats McDonald’s as the overall favorite. I had lots of time while waiting in line to consider this matter.

Food and Wine, in fact, points out that there is a flaw in their own system, though they don’t know what it is. You see, while McDonald’s runs near to last in the overall favorite category — and dead last in the burger category — it runs first in sales. First.

Back when I worked hard for my money, I interacted with senior aides to members of Congress. One aide in particular told me to never trust political polling results. “People answer poll questions the way they think they’re supposed to answer them,” he told me. “And then they vote their conscience in the polling booth.”

My friends, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened with this poll. I mean, who would want to tell Food and Wine magazine that McDonald’s is your fast food of choice? It’s much cooler to tell them that in those RARE instances when you eat a fast food burger instead of a kale and quinoa salad, you choose In-N-Out. Seventy-three percent of those polled chose In-N-Out in the burger loyalty category. In real life, who’s going to go to In-N-Out when your kid in the back seat is screaming for a Happy Meal?

As an aside, I have never understood the In-N-Out phenomenon. To me, it’s an ordinary burger with less than ordinary fries. Haters, don’t hate. I would choose Five Guys (which came in second in burger loyalty) any day.

I didn’t go out and get my doctorate degree in Research and Analysis last night, but something’s fishy with this survey. And speaking of fishy, if there had been a “fish” loyalty category, I would have selected Culver’s in a heartbeat. Their fish sandwich ROCKS.

Here is a link to the article from Food and Wine.

This post linked to Grand Social.

Treading Water

Because my swimming skills rival those of Michael Phelps, I will use a swimming analogy: for the past four days, I have been treading water.

Since last winter I have had it on my calendar. Watch Court’s kids for four days while he and Alyx are in San Diego at her friend’s wedding. For months, I would swallow the foreboding feeling that arose as I anticipated the event. As the date neared, I fought heart palpitations and nausea. Two-year-olds are scawwy.

Don’t get me wrong; you KNOW I love my grands. And I spend as much time as I can with them, and gladly so. But at the end of a busy day, they go back – filled full of sugar and content with a life with few boundaries – to their parents, who then have to deal with the after effects. It’s our revenge for the nights we laid awake listening for their car and all of the bad report cards.

But this time there would be no handing over of children, at least not for a number of days. Bill and I would be IT. Those three children would be our charges for FOUR SOLID DAYS.

We lived, and so did they, but I’m not too proud to say that I am very tired.

It’s rather a blur, I will admit. I had thought we would be doing all sorts of activities and taking field trips that would rival those of a Montessori school. I envisioned healthy snacks and cooking adventures. What I got was four days of keeping them alive, reasonably well-fed, a not-completely-horrifying bedtime hour, lots and lots and lots of laughter, and a few tears.

In the midst of all of the unanticipated chaos, I vaguely recall making several trips to Panda Express for orange chicken and McDonald’s for hotcakes (both for the same meal). At some point Cole fell off one of the kitchen chairs, hitting the back of his head on the ceramic tile below. I immediately began reaching into the depths of my brain to recall Court’s health insurance information. By the time I picked him up to comfort him, however, the tears had nearly stopped. He, my friends, is the toughest kid known to man. Probably comes from being the littlest in the family. He didn’t even have a bump.

Speaking of Cole, by Sunday afternoon, he was calling me Mommy. I guess he figured he could have done worse. Jen came Sunday for the day and spent the night. When I became Mommy she was promoted to Nana. Pecking order in the mind of a 2-year-old.

Bill, who like me, appreciates the predictable order of his days, showed great patience and restraint. He spent quite a bit of time in his office with the door closed. And he hardly grimaced at all when I told him Saturday night that the toilet was backing up. Kaiya and Mylee were a big help as they ran around holding their noses and squealing in horror. Too much toilet paper and it was fairly easily fixed. Says the woman who didn’t have to touch the plunger.  I had a talk with the girls about just how much toilet paper is actually necessary in this first world country.

At various points of the past few days, the cousins stopped by as well. And this was much to Kaiya’s and Mylee’s delight. Cole finds the attention offputting. I’m just a normal boy, he seems to be saying to Dagny and Addie, both who want to smother him with love. Addie, sensing the kids needed something interesting to keep them busy (perhaps seeing the fear in my eyes), at one point set up a little outdoor classroom in which she demonstrated making a volcano using some of my kitchen supplies. I recall corn starch, vinegar and water leaving my pantry. The kids loved it…..


They also loved making slime. A simple activity involving nothing more than Elmer’s glue, Borax, food coloring, and water…..


Then there was the fashion show, featuring an enthusiastic Kaiya, Dagny, and Maggie Faith, and a less-than-enthusiastic Mylee, donning various scarves and other paraphernalia they gathered from my dress-up box. At some point, one of them happened upon my make-up bag and let me just tell you there was lipstick involved. And lots and lots of fragrance. Much fragrance. Fragrance that at some point becomes not fragrant.

But Monday night, I tucked Kaiya and Mylee and Cole into their own beds in their own bedrooms in their own house, kissed them goodnight and reminded them that when they woke up the next morning, Mommy and Daddy would be there.

I would do it again, my friends. Just let me catch up on my sleep and get the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song out of my head. Oh, and finish cleaning up the slime that I still find in unexpected corners.

Silence is Golden

imagesMondays are often the day of the week that I expound to you about the wonderful words I heard yesterday in the Mass readings, and pretend that I have any right to try and explain them to you. I would love to do that today except I can’t because for the most part, I wasn’t listening.

Oh, I read along with the Old Testament reading from Zechariah, and nodded thoughtfully at St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians in which he told us all people who believe in Christ are the same, be they Jew or Gentile, male or female, man or woman, all of which was a great relief to me. I even took note of St. Luke’s Gospel in which Jesus asked his friends, who do they say I am, and then told them to keep their mouths shut when they said they think he is the chosen Christ, because no one would understand anyway.

But the reason I wasn’t listening was because somewhere around the time of the Gospel reading, I noticed that the three young teenaged boys who were the servers for the Mass all looked exactly alike. Brothers, little doubt, triplets, almost certainly. Triplet teenaged boys. Can you imagine?

And then, because I’m me, I began trying to figure out which of the people in the congregation were their parents. Father Larry is trying to save my soul by preaching a brilliant homily, and I’m secretly gooning around trying to figure out just who are the parents of these three remarkable young men.

Sometime towards the end of the Mass I said to myself, by Jove, I think I’ve got it! (I know I am watching too many PBS Masterpiece Mysteries when I start saying things like by Jove, even if it’s to myself.) It was the couple sitting next to me, who, by the way,had three children sitting with them. How did I come to that conclusion? First, parents of the children serving Mass always sit in the front of the church so that they can have a full view of their child/server. We were sitting in the second pew from the front. Second, the three children sitting between the man and woman looked exactly like the three boys on the altar except younger.

Eureka! I could be a great detective, like Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Gadget.

But of course I couldn’t be absolutely sure, and that made me concentrate on the Mass even less. Because I began thinking that I wanted to ask the woman who was sitting right beside me if she was the mother of the three boys and if they were, in fact, triplets. Questions all of which were none of my business. Which is exactly what I was fearful she would say to me.

I am the Queen of Striking Up Conversations With Total Strangers. And quite frankly, much of the time, it doesn’t go well. There is, of course, the time when we were on the cruise ship on the way to Europe and I said to the woman standing behind me in the buffet line, “Have you ever seen so much food in your life?” She answered, “I can’t see the food at all because I’m blind.” I’m not making this up.

And there was the time more recently when I was observing Kaiya and Mylee playing on the playground of McDonalds. I noticed that despite the fact that none of the kids had ever seen each other before, they were all playing together as if they were long-time friends. The grandfather – or at least who I assume was the grandfather – of one of the children was sitting next to me. I said to him in a friendly way, “Wouldn’t our life be better if our children ran the world?”

“Not hardly,” he answered back, quite grouchily, and resumed eating his Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Alrighty then.

So despite the fact that I was absolutely DYING to ask the woman if she was the mother of the three boys, I had to remind myself of several things. First of all, I was only PRESUMING they were brothers, much less triplets; I had no verification of that fact. Second of all, since I had not been paying attention to the family next to me until I became so interested in learning these boys’ parentage, I had no proof that she was even with the man and the three children sitting next to her. I could just imagine me asking the question only to have her break into tears and say that she is unable to have children and it’s destroyed her life.

I refrained from asking the question, but haven’t been able to get the boys out of my mind.

By the way, in my defense, I did hear the part of the gospel in which Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” It made me wonder why we humans are always asking why bad things happen to good people. The answer is simple: we must take up the crosses we face every single day of our life. It’s what Jesus asks us to do.

This post linked to the GRAND Social


The other day I was making a gourmet lunch of hot dogs and Cheetos. Sure, some French person somewhere in Paris was eating a Croque Monsieur or Madame sandwich while sitting on a park bench outside of the Louvre, but I don’t envy him or her because I LOVE HOT DOGS.

There. I’ve said it. In fact, one of my favorite lunch treats is the buck fifty special at Costco that features a foot-long hot dog or polish sausage and a Diet Pepsi. A buck fifty. Considerably less expensive than your Croque Monsieur, monsieur!

Anyway, I had spent good money on the weenies. I don’t go for the generic brand. No Siree Bob. I put out good money to get all-beef Oscar Mayer weiners because that’s the kind that Bill used to eat at his favorite hot dog joint on the South Side of Chicago. (I know, but that is not a typo. His favorite hot dog place didn’t serve Vienna Beef hot diggities. It was Oscar Mayer all the way.)

All this is to say that our lunch fare got us to talking about advertising jingles through the years. And Oscar Mayer had two of the very best. C’mon Baby Boomers. You can sing them with me….

I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner
That is what I’d truly like to be-e-e
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner
Everyone would be in love with me.

That catchy tune aired in the mid-60s. It is not to be confused with the equally catchy

My bologna has a first name, It’s O-S-C-A-R
My bologna has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R
Oh, I love to eat it every day
And if you ask me why, I’ll say
‘Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.

I am not ashamed to tell you that to this day I never ever misspell bologna. Of course I’ve probably only had to spell it out five times in my life and three of those five are in this blog post. Still….who couldn’t love this symbol of fine hot dog eating everywhere….

I took this photo of the Weinermobile outside of our neighborhood Walmart.

I took this photo of the Weinermobile outside of our neighborhood Walmart.

Another famous jingle that also featured hot dogs was offered by Armour Meats, also in the mid-60s.  Remember?

Hot dogs. Armour hot dogs.
What kind of kids eat Armour hot dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks.
Tough kids, sissy kids even kids with chicken pox
love hot dogs, Armour hot dogs.
The dogs kids love to bite.

We must not have been too concerned with political correctness in the 60s. Maybe we were too worried about where all the flowers had gone. Because I can’t imagine a commercial today that would talk about fat kids during which they would feature a plump girl biting into a hot dog. And sissy kids? Wouldn’t happen.

But of course, catchy advertising jingles weren’t limited to hot dogs. Who can forget two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed bun? Or hold the pickles hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us?

And after all of those hamburgers and hot dogs, you needed plop,plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. And the next morning, once your stomach was settled, remember that the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. But perhaps the one easiest to remember was this: Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, and so forth. Meow Mix cat food.

All this made me think about a movie I recently watched on Netflix called The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, starring Julianne Moore. It was an interesting movie based on a true story of a woman who helped support her family of 10 kids by winning a variety of prizes – some monetary, some less helpful – for writing advertising jingles in the 1950s. Apparently companies used to hold contests to find the best jingles. I recommend the movie.

It makes me a bit sad that nowadays there are no jingles, only pop music as the background to commercials aimed at the 18-40 demographic. But just remember, when you say Bud, you’ve said it all.

This post linked to the GRAND Social