Have you ever had the feeling you were on some kind of a hidden camera show? One of those times where everything around you seems so ridiculous that you think somebody is just messing with you for laughs? This Sunday was one of those days for me.
My day started out normal. Well, not normal. A normal Sunday would begin with me going to church. Since apparently they had it wrong in 1776 that liberty is endowed by our creator and we no longer have the freedom to attend church without a mask, I watched the service on my computer. It was after church that things started to get weird.
Sunday was Father’s Day and my dad picked his favorite pizza place for lunch, so I said I would drive up and meet them there. I parked my car and saw theirs so I knew they were already inside the restaurant. When I walked in an employee rushed over and stopped me.
“They’re already seated,” I said as I walked towards the tables.
“You need to put on a mask,” he replied.
“I don’t have one,” I said.
He persisted, “You have to have one on until you get to the table. Here, we have some for you to use,” as he grabbed a box on the counter.
Two thoughts crossed my mind in the next couple of seconds. First, I thought about how completely gullible and illogical so many people are to go along with this. Apparently, if I walk 20 feet to a table without wearing a mask, everybody in the restaurant will be dead. Yet, if I get to the table, remove the mask, and eat for an hour, then everything will be fine. Insanity. The other thought was that my family is going to make fun of me but I have to do the right thing. We can’t let the bad guys win. “Never mind,” I said, and I turned around and walked out.
I think my dad was annoyed, amused, and proud at the same time. When he came out to walk down to the bakery to get dessert I was sitting on a bench outside. I walked with him.
“We missed you at lunch,” he said.
“Yeah, me too,” I answered. “You know why I’m like this? Why I stand up for what I believe like that?”
“McDonald’s?” Dad asked.
“Yep,” I said, and he busted out laughing.
You see, when I was a kid my mom would occasionally take us to McDonald’s because they were the first fast food place to put in a playground. In August of 1987 Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, made a $1 million contribution to the Democratic National Committee. At the time it was the largest single contribution to the party ever. Dad heard about Kroc’s donation and banned us from going to McDonald’s until George Bush defeated Michael Dukakis a year later. We gave my dad a hard time about that for years. Now look at me, Dad!
Side note: As a general rule, I don’t like to boycott businesses for disagreeing with me politically except under certain circumstances. I think it’s a bad precedent to set to make everything about politics. For example, I still eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I like it. Plus I get a kick out of the fact that two Vermont leftists got rich because of free market capitalism.
After lunch we went to my parent’s house and watched Hondo, the John Wayne western. Then dinner was even more entertaining than lunch. My parents, my sister’s family, and I went to a Mexican restaurant. My parents and I arrived first and I ordered a margarita. When my drink came out I was disappointed to find one of those awful paper straws in it. You know the ones. They make whatever you’re drinking taste like cardboard and then they get soggy and mushy. So far not funny, just annoying. Then I noticed my mom’s iced tea had a real, plastic straw in it. I asked the waitress, “Can I please get a real straw like hers?” I couldn’t tell if she had a look of confusion on her face because, well, she was wearing a mask, but she walked off for my straw. A minute later she returned to our table with two straws. Two more PAPER straws! I was not wearing a mask so I’m sure everyone could see the perplexed look on my face. Was she messing with me? Did she not understand me? Was Ashton Kutcher hiding around the corner?
“No. I meant a real straw. Like that one,” I said as I pointed at my mom’s tea.
She looked at me blankly, followed by some unintelligible mumbling from beneath her mask about not having any. I asked if that was the last one in my mom’s drink. She mumbled again, nodded, and walked away. My family laughed hysterically because I was so confused. I glanced around again for Ashton Kutcher. Nowhere. Oh well. I guess Mom had gotten the last real straw.
A minute later the waitress brought my nephew his water because he had gotten there a little later. My Dad said, “Hey Steve, look at his straw.” Sure enough, in my nephew’s glass was a real, plastic straw. Laughter ensued. Ashton Kutcher never popped out.