I step up to the counter at the McDonald's in downtown Berkeley. It has alway struck me as incongruous, this temple to Merkin consumption in the heart of what was such the counter cultural capital.
And why do I even go in there? Well, I have about 10 minutes to get something to eat before catching a double feature of Once Upon A Time in the West and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at the venerable UC Theatre. And I have been congratulating myself on not having eaten at such a place for several months, so it's time to break that habit.
There are two lines, I stand in one of them. The guy in front of me seems to think that there is one line for the two servicepeople at the counter. He invites this other guy from the other line in in front of him. Bad idea, this other guy has a long order, and then changes it. By the time I finally get to the counter, I can imagine the curtain rising on the screen. I order a pair of hamburgers and some fries. Because I am not some poor schmuck who must change his mind as soon as people start acting on his stated desires, I receive them within the target period of 90 seconds per order. I sit down and chow down.
Suddenly this crone gets up from across the isle from me, and walks to the door. "Harry!" she shouts, "what are you doing standing on the street over there, can't you see I'm waiting for you?" I am distracted. I look up, and then around, decide that she is mostly harmless and get back to imagining the first preview that I'm missing. This old man comes in and shouts back at the crone, "I'm going to get a cold one, you eating already? Why didn't you wait? Look, I'll get a cold one and come back and sit with you, ok?"
Almost finished, I tip the cardboard fry container for the crispy dregs, and then notice on the tray before me two pieces of hamburger, bun and all. Each are roughly one-quarter of the whole. I have no idea how that shape was created, why there are two such pieces. I begin to surmise that I ate straight through one of the hamburgers, like a train slicing through the handcuffs between an escapee and the corpse of his guard. I am very confused. I am very late for the movies.
I disconcertedly trash the remains on my tray and run down the street to the movie palace. They must have put on an extra reel of previews, because they are still selling tickets and letting people in. I happen to get a beautiful seat and spend the next 6 hours in the celluloid.