American Fast Food – What A Stupid Way To Die

A few of my favorite things.

Most of you have probably not heard of Randy Stonehill, but he’s one of my favorite singer/songwriters. In 1983, he released a song called “American Fast Food”. Here are the lyrics:

American fast food, what a stupid way to die
American fast food, order me the jumbo fries
Oh, oh, it’s easy
It’s so easy and it’s trouble free
It’s quick and disposable, just like me
If I don’t stop eating this greasy American fast food

Well, we’re undernourished, but we’re overfed
And we’re munching on the burger with the white bread
And we’re sucking up the sugar in a milkshake
Till we slip into depression with a big headache
And our arteries are crying out, “give us a break”

American fast food, what a stupid way to die
American fast food, you kiss your old age goodbye
Oh, oh, it’s easy
It’s so easy and it’s trouble free
It’s quick and disposable, just like me
If I don’t stop eating this greasy American fast food

You won’t have to embalm me when my life is through
There are so many preservatives in what I eat
The job’s being done right now for you

“Can I take you order, please?”
“A cheeseburger, fries, and a big chocolate malted”

It’s prefab junk at an exorbitant price
And it’s bound to make you nauseous if you look at it twice
But they’re selling you by telling you it’s food that’s fun
When it tastes like cardboard It chews like sponge
’cause it’s really only garbage on a sesame bun

American fast food, what a stupid way to die
American fast food, order me the chili-size
Oh, oh, it’s easy
It’s so easy and it’s trouble free
It’s quick and disposable, just like me
If I don’t stop eating this greasy American
I don’t stop eating this greasy American fast food

And here is a link to a video of the song (lyrics included!) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hliIoqO9CY

My girlfriend in college quickly realized my love for fast food and she was quick to dedicate this song to me on our local campus radio station. What an honor!

My previous blog post touched on fast food and well, let’s just stick with this theme for now. I remember as a kid falling in love with McDonalds cheeseburgers. In fact, I remember constantly asking my grandmother (who lived in Canada) if we could go to McDonalds. She’d say “I’m making you grandma’s McDonalds” and I’d be like… ok! Over time, I tried a lot of different restaurants, and then I discovered the holy – or perhaps unholy – grail: White Castle.

Image result for white castle funny

I don’t quite recall my first experience with “sliders” at White Castle, but I do recall my worst experience. A group of us had grabbed a ton of burgers at the South Street location in downtown Indy one day for lunch. At the time, I worked on the top floor of the First Indiana building. We went back to work afterward and about mid-afternoon, the shockwaves started to hit.

For those of you who have not had the privilege of experiencing these “shockwaves”, they are very painful, very unpredictable, and very dangerous if you don’t have a facility nearby. I went to the men’s room – the one and only men’s room on the top floor – and saw that the stall was occupied. Yes, there was only one stall to share between what was perhaps 50-60 guys on the floor. No problem, I thought. I’d just go down the stairwell to the 21st floor and use the men’s room on that floor. So, I walked down the one flight of stairs and went to open the door to the 21st floor.

It was locked.

Ok, don’t panic, right? I went up to the 22nd floor again, thinking… it’s been at least 3-4 minutes. Surely the guy must be done by now. I grabbed the doorknob to the 22nd floor.

It was locked.

I was now locked in the stairwell on the 22nd floor. There was a ladder to the roof and for a split second I considered my options. I thought perhaps I could just find a nice quiet spot up there somewhere and hide in my moment of shame, then subtly get in my car and go home, telling my boss that I had gotten sick. Then I remembered that the buildings around my building were all taller than the building I was in. The American United Life building was 48 stories tall, and it was next door. Could you imagine looking out the window and seeing… ummm… THAT? Nope. That won’t work. I had to face the fact that I had to walk down 22 flights of stairs to go to the bathroom.

Twenty-two. Flights. Of. Stairs.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could make it down one. But there I went, slowly, painfully, step-by-step walking down the stairs. The railings were solid iron but I swear I bent a few along the way. A few times I thought – oh no – forget it – I’ll just let er rip in a corner and then pretend like it never happened. But, alas, via sheer determination or some bizarre divine intervention, I made it down to the first floor. And then it hit me.

The first floor of my building has no restrooms on it.

Crap. Literally. I was in sheer panic now. They didn’t have restrooms on that level because they didn’t want the general public using them. And, as it turns out, people who have what is known as a Level Two Biological Emergency. I knew there were restrooms on the 2nd floor and I was pretty sure they had TWO stalls in that restroom. Not sure how the tenants of that floor got the upgraded porcelain suite treatment, but that was my new destination. So, I calmly got in the elevator with about 10 other people and pressed 2. My face probably looked like I had been holding my breath for a few minutes because I could tell people were looking at me funny. I got off on the 2nd floor, did the fastest penguin-style waddle I’ve ever done towards the men’s restroom and, well, I’ll spare you the details. Well… the rest of them at least.

Let’s just say that White Castle sliders are weapons of ass destruction.

You’d think with all this drama that I’d never touch those things again. Nope. I continued to – and still continue to – eat sliders occasionally. I don’t, however, have them for lunch anymore. I can’t take that chance again.

In fact, the time came one day to introduce my eldest son Isaac to White Castles. He and I were home one night and mom was gone, leaving us with nothing but leftovers to eat. I wasn’t excited about what was in the fridge so I thought hey, Isaac’s a little man (he was 18 months old at the time), so he’d probably like little burgers, right? Seemed like a good idea at the time. So, I took him to White Castle to experience his first slider. Wouldn’t you know it, he loved them. In fact, I originally had bought 4 for me and 2 for him and wound up getting a half dozen more. He must have had four or five sliders. “That’s my boy!” I thought. I was so proud of his big boy appetite! What could go wrong?

A lot went wrong.

Allow me to interject here that this night had been the first night in a year that I was allowed to keep Isaac alone. A year earlier, Amy (my wife, Isaac’s mom) had left Isaac alone with me for the first time. She was gone for a whole 30 seconds and drove by the front window to wave bye-bye. I lifted Isaac’s hand up and it was full of blood. He had cut his finger on a coke can I had on the floor. Mom had been gone for less than a minute and I was already a daddy day care failure. That was in early 1996. It took her a year to get over that. Forgive me, I digress. Let’s go back to what has become known as the White Castle Blowout ’97.

Image may contain: 1 person
Here’s Isaac, looking so cute and innocent before the White Castle Blowout of 1997 changed his life forever.

Isaac and I got home from White Castle and we were both tired, so I put him to bed and then I too went to sleep. I got up early the next morning and went to work. It wasn’t until I got home that night that the sliders hit the fan. I walked in the door and the first thing I noticed was the overwhelming smell of death. It was as if death had visited, laid some silent but deadlies all over the house, then left. It was horrible. Then I saw Amy holding Isaac up, kind of like Simba was held up in The Lion King. Isaac was white. Pure white. He was groaning. Then I became aware of my surroundings and saw diapers everywhere. I thought – oh no – the slider dinner must have backfired – literally. Then, I heard Amy say:

What did you feed my son?

That’s it, guys. Game over. If your wife ever refers to your joint child as “hers”, you have crossed a line and I hope for Pete’s sake your doghouse has heating or air conditioning in it, because you’re going to be living there for quite a while. I tried my best to backtrack my steps and logic – I’m sure there was some, right? – for my decision from the previous evening. I said “Well, we weren’t excited about the leftovers you left us, so I thought – he’s a little man – he would probably like little burgers, right? So we went to White Castle”. “YOU DID NOT”, Amy said. “We did”, I said.

For the record, the dog house isn’t too bad. In the years that have followed, I have added a few windows, some nice curtains, and even indoor plumbing. I’m slowly getting used to it!

My youngest son David arrived a year later and he already had a lot of digestive issues, so I never introduced him to the wonderful world of sliders. However, in 1999, we had an exchange student from Germany stay with us for 10 months. His name was Konstantin. He was 16 years old – almost 17 – and apparently had never had fast food before. I guess Germany doesn’t have fast food; or, at least they didn’t back then. Don’t worry, I eased him into it. First McDonalds, then Burger King, then Taco Bell – oh boy did he love Taco Bell! Then came the moment. He had to experience White Castle for the first time. So, we went in the car – just he and I – and went to White Castle. He asked what he should have and I said he should get what I get:

4 double cheese, 1 order of fries, 1 order of onion rings and a large chocolate shake.

L-R: Konstantin (pre-blowout), David, Lloyd, Isaac (post-blowout) on Kon’s 17th b-day in 1999.

So that’s what he and I got. He loved them. Well, he loved eating them. That is, until the next day. I got home from work and the upstairs bathroom was locked. I knew Kon (as we called him) was in there. I knocked and asked how it was going.

“NEVER AGAIN!” was his reply.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. I learned so many German cuss words that day. I wondered if he’d ever trust me again and he did, much to his dismay. I introduced him to Long John Silvers a few weeks later. More cuss words. More never again-ing. I’m surprised he has anything to do with me at all.

In any case, I’m leaving to go to Berlin tomorrow (May 21st) to visit Kon. I can only imagine what he has in store for me. My bet is I’ll be spending at least 1 of the next 10 days on the crapper, and he’ll be learning some new American cuss words.

So – now it’s your turn. What American Fast Food nightmare stories do you have. Let’s hear them!

About Lloyd Work

Writer. Actor. Comedian. Nerd.
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2 Responses to American Fast Food – What A Stupid Way To Die

  1. Terry says:

    Lloyd… hahah… the 22nd floor massacre… was that at MMS when I first met you? I was there in ’96 or ’97 I think… That’s great lol. I have a story about that building and it’s elevators. It’s not Fast Food related though, but one you’d appreciate.

    My freshly ex-gf at the time didn’t take our break up so well. She worked across the street at AUL. It was in early January, so not long after Christmas. She had bought me a gold necklace, and I bought her a Led Zeppelin cd box set. (hey, you laugh, but she loved Led Zep and it wasn’t cheap lol)… anyway, after our breakup, she decided she wanted the necklace back. I’m one that believes gifts are gifts and you don’t demand things back… But, I had no attachment to it at all, so I was ok with giving it back…

    BUT… I did have an investment in CDs at stake. A Led Zeppelin Box Set in the mid-late 90’s wasn’t cheap at all. So, I was like “ok, let’s just do an exchange – necklace for Led Zeppelin” … She would have none of that. She went into an email rage that day at work (remember, she’s right across the street at AUL), declaring “I’m coming over to get MY NECKLACE” …

    Now, keep in mind, I was very new at MMS. I’d been there like a week or two, and I certainly didn’t want some enraged necklace bandit girl marching into the company office. So I decided to cut her off in the lobby… I rode the elevator the 21 or 22 floors down, hoping to meet her in the lobby to cool her down.

    I got down there, and waited… and waited… and waited… finally I was like “phew, she must have been bluffing”… so I rode elevator back upstairs… I got up there and the receptionist said “You just had a visitor, I checked and you weren’t here so she left” … hahahah…. we had crossed in the elevators… twice. 😀

    Anyway, the next day we agreed to do a “civil” exchange in the AUL lobby. I had the necklace in my pocket … I walked over to AUL, and saw her approaching me – but with a little bag, certainly not big enough to hold a Led Zeppelin box set. She looked at me and said “Where’s the necklace?” I said… “Where’s Led Zeppelin?” She grumbled an obscenity, handed me the small bag, and marched off. I’m like “WTF”?? I open the bag, and proceed to find some pictures of her and I ripped apart and shredded at the bottom of the bag. 😮 😮 😮 I’m like.. WTF is this a 30 year old Jr. High chick I was dating? At this point I’m thinking I’m going to be a subject on “Forensic Files” pretty soon.

    Thankfully, that was the last time I ever saw or heard from her. Phew. By the way, I still have said gold necklace, and I’m betting Led Zeppelin was mutilated with a hammer and thrown into the White River that very day. hahahahah…..

    Terry

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eating White Castle in NYC three hours before getting on a plane to come home. Bad decision.

    Liked by 1 person

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