Burgers & Fries

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I got in early, maybe 6 or 7 a.m., the taste of stale tequila still on my breath, a sequined top reflecting the morning light.

Another one-night stand. Another boy I would not see again—a boy I can’t remember today. I took off all of my clothes to shower, waiting to get in until the water ran hot.

Using cheap Duane Reade-brand conditioner through my tangled hair, I thought, as I sometimes do, of The Ex Fiancé. It’s so funny—now I haven’t spoken to him in so long, he’s almost become a character to me. I can’t remember the last time I said his real name out loud, the last time I referred to him without talking about the column.

I got out of the shower and sloppily towel-dried my unnatural blonde hair, letting it fall naturally in unruly waves. Sitting naked on the end of my bed, two cats purring in the corner, I thought about what it must feel like to be written about so publicly. To write about myself is empowering—but what must it feel like to have no control over the words? To be at the whim of someone else’s memory?

I didn’t just think about The Ex Fiancé, I thought about all of the men in my life. I thought about all the boyfriends, all the dates, all the lovers. Do they remember me? Do they think about me? If they wrote a column, would I make an appearance? Or be a regular character?

Would I be flattered? Or offended? Or, maybe, just sad?
I leaned back onto my mattress, feeling exhausted and restless at the same time. After a while, I fell asleep.

I woke up around 2 p.m., head throbbing. I managed to get myself out of bed, put on a pair of H&M sweatpants and go down the block to McDonald’s.

I don’t go to McDonald’s much now, but I did then, and even more so when I was in college. There was a boy I was romantically involved with, David, and we would always go to McDonald’s. (He liked playing Monopoly; I liked eating his fries when he wasn’t looking.) Waiting for my large fries and two double cheeseburgers (with a side of honey mustard), I felt nostalgic. What would life have been like if I stayed in Iowa? If I stayed with David?

I look him up time to time. He runs hotels in Wisconsin. He looks happy.

I took my food back to my apartment, back to my cats nestling and nudging their way around me to get a taste. I opened my laptop and put on a Thanksgiving episode of Bob’s Burgers. I took a selfie with fries in my mouth and up

loaded it to Instagram with the hashtag #thanksgivingrealness.

I wondered if, online, I looked as happy as David did.

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twitter.com/@ianinwonderland

PHOTO BY STEVE BRENNAN
PHOTO BY STEVE BRENNAN

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