We are just leaving downtown after hanging out at the Seattle Center and on the way to the car Solar Dancer decides she wants to stop at McDonald's® to get a coffee.
Sleep Deprivation Ninja: "You want to get coffee from McGonad's?! They are the epitome of my disgust. They are my vomit manifested as a franchise."
Solar Dancer: "But I have a coupon and I want to try it. Besides, their coffee won a taste test contest."
SDN: "hmm, peer reviewed?"
Solar Dancer: "Done by a different company. Blind test."
I gasp and grumble. This still doesn't seem like a convincing argument to me. Sure they won a taste test. It's fucking roasted beans. Coffee is about as simple as it gets. Now, if they won a contest for the best vegan chocolate truffles, I would be impressed. And it's not like they even grow their own beans. Everyone gets them from Columbia or Sumatra or some other place where poor families pick things. But I'm not going to fight it. People love their coffee.
I grew up on fast food. Happy Meals™ and milkshakes were foundations of the essential food groups. These days, I can't even stomach the thought of any of it. I haven't been inside a Micky D's in so many years, I actually don't remember the last time. Given my inner aversion to this type of business, I approach with wary (and weary) hesitation.
When we enter, a waft of gut-plugging, cholesterol-saturated air fills our lungs. An air filtration unit blows a light, Freon-conditioned breeze our way, lest we faint from overexposure to the natural heart-racing fumes of the restaurant. Even a ninja stutters his movements in shock of such an experience. I falter for a moment but regain composure quickly with a moment of inner meditation. The greatest power a human has is the ability to adapt--and we adapt very well, sometimes too well.
While Solar Dancer waits in line, I check Code Name Alice's unmentionables as she has been indicating that it's time to do so. Indeed, she's wet and needs a change. Well, this is a major food chain so they will have a fold-out changing table in the men's room, yes? Don't count on it. Not here. Bastards.
OK, I'm going to change her on one of the tables then. Don't worry about baby buns touching the surface your hamburger buns (if you are the type to eat off the table), I've got a portable changing pad. I get the baby girl unwrapped, all prepped to catch anything she might decide to dish out. But here is where the makers of plastic pads get it wrong.
Code name Alice, the ninja apprentice, the fast-food fighter supreme, the super-sized tater-tot, emits a mighty howl from her mouth and blows a banshee raspberry out of her ass. I ninja-dodge and it goes flying passed my head into the kitchen. Loud screams erupt as the thing ricochets around the interior of the building, bouncing off anything perpendicular to the floor, leaving a trail as it goes, somehow magically growing like a snowball shot down the side of Avalanche Mountain. What is it picking up? How is it growing in speed and size? It must be pulling in the surrounding refuse and artificial sweeteners, the shit spewing forth from people who are gabbing while eating their burgers and fries, the molecules of artificial proteins and simple sugars floating in the air, thick as grease, unrelenting to the weak air filtration unit.
And now I see it. The small box on the wall that's trying so hard to pump fresh, clean, breathable air into the room is sputtering, smoking, getting ready to pop, the sides of the grill so caked with buttery fat and lab-tested smokey flavor, it just can't handle the additional crap that was just unleashed into its precariously delicate environment. This is the straw that breaks the back, the drop of rain that fills the pool, the shit that hits the fan. And it hits hard.
The fan wheezes and hisses like an old smoker taking a final breath, coughing wet and hoarse. In a rip-roaring inferno of sickly air, smoke and fumes, all the thick particles it had spent so long filtering out and containing are pouring back into the room. The people who sit closest to the vent gasp in disgust. They weep as if hit with a SWAT team teargas raid. They drop their burgers and cover their mouths to hold in their last fresh tasting breath.
On the other side of the room, a portly man with a thick mustache holds his burger up high and screams, "There's shit in this burger!"