Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
I foolishly believed that I could perform the simple act of purchasing and consuming lunch without risking life and limb. I would soon recognize my miscalculation after witnessing an elaborate three-headed attack unleashed by employees of a local eatery.
It was early afternoon, I was driving down Poway Road and decided it was time for lunch. I pulled into the parking lot of a popular fast-food joint. To avoid any affairs of a litigious nature I will say only that the restaurant’s name translated into English means, “of the taco.” As I entered the establishment I noticed a homeless man occupying a corner booth. The fact that a somewhat scruffy man occupied a booth in the corner didn’t bother me; I realize everybody has his/her own life circumstances and I can respect that. The fact that he was participating in a traditionally nocturnal activity while face down in the remnants of what looked like a deluxe nacho plate, did give me slight pause. I pressed on, though, stepping to the counter in my pursuit of nutrition. T’was here I met the first head.
She wore a uniform, appeared to be, herself, an enthusiastic fast-food fan, and took absolutely no notice of me. As I stood ignored for several moments she continued a ciphering ritual that involved the repeated counting of bills and a rudimentary system of check marks. She finally wondered what I wanted. I placed a simple order of two tacos, one small fry and a small drink and she stared at me as if I were speaking Russian. She finally blinked back into animation and offered me a #3 combo that came with a larger drink and cost only forty-eight cents more, or a #2 combo that came with a chicken burrito but no drink, or a #6 that was nothing but drinks, four of them, any flavor… After some head-shaking and “no thank-you”ing I was able to convince her that I would, in fact, like only the items I’d ordered. She accepted my money and gave me a look of disgust as change. I took my cup and prepared my iced tea, blissfully unaware that Number Two Head would soon enter my life.
After about six or seven minutes I saw that my tacos were prepared and wrapped and my fries were in the chute waiting to be bagged. Number Two Head, however, was hanging half-way out the drive-through window visiting with a car load of acquaintances. I relaxed a little as she eventually pulled herself back inside and moved towards my fries. Suddenly she spun and started shoveling food out the window. I stood and wondered what percentage of my bill was going towards any freebies now flying out the opening. After she had exhausted the supply of food-- and herself --she paused and noticed me for the first time. She wrestled my fries (sole survivors) into a bag and handed me the tray. It had not gone perfectly I thought, as I found a seat, but at least I had my stuff and could now enjoy my meal. This calm lasted only a minute. The voice of the third head seemed to come from out of nowhere, but surely she had been lurking back there the whole time. It was a voice that sounded like a speeding train screeching to a halt after colliding with an ice-cream truck. The other two heads giggled and chirped encouragement as Number Three related stories jumping from one inappropriate subject to another. I might have been able to ignore the tales of nefarious adventures involving friends, the police, and other employees of this establishment, but by the time she got around to mysterious illnesses and debilitating diseases, I was whooped! I quietly gathered my refuse, dumped it in the can, and staggered towards the exit. As darkness began to creep in on my consciousness, I knew I was close to the edge. With a hesitant final glance back, I realized it was too late for the homeless man. I turned, shaking my fists in the air and cried, “I pledge my allegiance, from this point forward, to truth, justice and the pursuit of the Golden Arches!”
Daniel J McAuliffe