In Defense of the McDonald’s Corporation as Represented by the Iconic Figure Ronald McDonald

                     Good times, great taste, that’s why this is our place.

                                          —McDonald’s jingle, 1992

You were there, Ronald, Thursday nights, the good times

of your golden arches glowing

through winter’s interminable night, my mother, twenty pounds

overweight, indulging in the pleasure

of ten Chicken McNuggets. I could have sat forever

in one of your booths by the plate glass windows

while my father worked a double shift, our kitchen’s scuffed floor

so different from the wet gleam

of your recently mopped tiles. I clung to the safety of the families

surrounding us where my father could never

drink himself into a rambling rant

about my mother refusing to cook the family dinner.

In truth, it was impossible to take an interest

in the absurdity of your yellow jump suit, your red-white sleeves

like a swirling barber’s pole; I could not have possibly cared

about your commercials featuring Mayor McCheese

and the Hamburglar, the cowardly scoundrel

who never worked a sixty-hour week

or paced the hallways of our dirty house—

the tower of unwashed dishes in the sink,

the den rug stained with cat piss—

while the family was desperate for sleep.

I simply craved the deep-fried goodness

of your French fries. I yearned each Thursday to escape

to the oozing warmth of your baked apple pie

where I whisked away the dinner debris

on a small brown tray. Let my mother, her rigid perm

adding ten years, forever sip

one of your supersized soft drinks. Let cholesterol

clog her arteries, the extra calories a small concession

to escape my father’s empty beer cans

in the living room. Your soothing milk shake

allowed her to avoid the constant cloud of his blame—

the hallway carpet she never vacuumed, the kitchen oven

she seldom turned on—that followed her

even while he was at work. Let my mother who lived

in that house like a prisoner

watch me delight in another plastic Happy Meal toy.

Let her reach across the table to again

take my hand, the final threads of youth

in her smile, so many hours

from my father’s car pulling into the driveway,

from the weight of him opening the porch screen door,

as the sound of families surround us

promising everything will be okay.

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