It is a balmy morning, well above freezing, easily the warmest day of this year. The sun was shining brightly as I made my way through the quiet streets of Strašnice; the only others out at this time on a Sunday morning are the old men and their wiener dogs.
What is any right-thinking non-wiener-dog-owning person doing out on a Sunday morning, no matter how bright and shiny it may be? What Siren song drew me from my home, my fortress of solitude, my haven in the hurly-burly world that is Strašnice? Fast food.
It was late when I got home last night. Really late. I was at Roma with fuego, and we all know how that can go. It was a night of Pirates and hockey. Pirates of the White Sand, I’m happy to report, is making progress. The version fuego brought back from the secret underground laboratories of North America is good enough we can actually show it to people, and many of the tweaks to make it even better are quite simple. Last night we worked up a list of improvements, and except for one really stupid bit that fuego seems to find delightful we’re in good shape. The last hour of the evening was dedicated to me finding new ways to explain how stupid that bit is.
I staggered home as the wee hours of the morning were growing up. I mounted the stairs and when I opened the door I was not hit by the blast of tropical air that Soup Boy prefers. He was still awake. Well, moving, anyway; awake might be a bit of a stretch. “Heater’s not working,” he managed to mumble. “No hot water, either.” I tried pushing the reset button on the heater, just as Soup Boy had already done, but you never know. He might not have pushed the button correctly. In this case, my button-pushing was no more effective than his, so I shuffled into my room and flopped into bed, too tired even to plug in the electric heater in my room.
This morning I awoke, perhaps a little later than usual, but usual is difficult to define. I shuffled around a bit, found a valve on the water heater to allow more water into the radiator system, and groped my way to the kitchen for some tea. Ah, tea, the leaf that built an empire, where would I be without your magical alkaloid? As the kettle hissed and burbled I stood, semi-conscious, contemplating the paper bag on the counter. Slowly the friendly logo and happy marketing slogans sank in. McDonald’s. As I looked at that bag the craving started, the conditioned reflex born of forty years of exposure to relentless marketing. I wanted some of that.
And so now I sit, far from home, tired, muddled, sated, nibbling the last of my fries, watching parents struggle with children who are not yet finished crawling through the giant hamster tubes. Man, I wish they had those when I was a tot.