I went to the McDonald’s drive-thru today for lunch. I guess I was in the mood for a cheese burger that had arrived in Alaska a few days ago via USPS Ground Shipping. But I’m an occasional fan of mail order burgers and I’m not ashamed to admit that. As you will discover shortly, I am quite brazen when it comes to lunch time activities.
In the drive-thru, I ordered, and then pulled to the first window where I smiled to the nice young girl and handed her my credit card. While she ran my card, I busied myself with the regular drive-thru activity of cleaning out my cup holder before I got to the final window. I was in a hurry and not paying much attention when the girl returned with my receipt. So, I still had the last item from the cup holder in my hand when I hastily turned and extended my arm out the window to meet hers.
As I did this all time stopped. I saw, for the period of about two seconds as her eyes fell on the object in my hand in slow motion. Her entire face lit up with confused amazement. Her eyes widened. Her mouth fell open with a faint gasp. She looked at me and then back at my hand several times as her body stiffened, her eyebrows furrowed, her cheeks flushed. She passed through several levels of perplexity, hesitant joy, and fear.
And I had no clue what was going on. I took my card from her hand, thanked her and pulled away, reminded for a moment how insane and enigmatic teenage girls are.
It wasn’t until I made it to the next window that I looked down at my hand and saw what I had been holding. In my hand, under the receipt, was the bulky object that had been filling my cup holder. A shape that has been specifically designed and marketed to make young woman palpitate. Decades of breeding and mental trickery has created this simple object and turned it into a weapon of instant devastation for the hearts of young woman. It was a small white jewelry box, with a hinged lid, specially designed for engagement rings.
What absolute confusion. I can imagine now what thoughts must have passed through this girl’s mind in those two seconds of interaction. As she envisioned this odd man twice her age pulling up in a small car packed full of car seats, and he would slowly turn from his console to surprise her as she returns his credit card by producing “The Ring”. Our eyes would meet and I would yell over the sound of the fryer pinging behind her, “Hi! I know we only just meet a few seconds ago. I’m the guy that ordered the strawberry pie. Yeah. Hey, would you make me the happiest and most laughed at man in the world by agreeing to be my wife? I mean, my second wife? I mean, nothing weird, just I’m already married and have several children and it is kindof possible that some of them could be almost your age.” While the man was still talking she would wordlessly open the small box and gaze tearfully at its contents. In this case it was quite literally the parts to a small toy bicycle that Clara had given me in a jewelry box she had found in our room and asked me to fix for her. The girl would pick the bicycle up and attempt to put it on her finger or something. The strange man would continue, “These bicycle parts are a symbol of my everlasting love for you. Except you should probably let me have them back before I get home, because my daughter is going to be pretty upset if she realizes they are missing.”
The girl would forget to even give me her answer (which of course would be, “Yes!”) as she ran through the restaurant showing all of her friends how beautiful the bicycle, with its working handle bars and one inch wheels, looked on her tiny hands. I would come back after eating my strawberry pie and go inside looking for her, but I would probably never find her because I can hardly remember what she even looked like. She just had tiny hands and that’s not a lot to go on in a McDonald’s.
So, anyway, that is the story about the time I almost proposed to a teenager in the drive-thru at McDonald’s.