Growing up, my best friend Jon and I were always doing ridiculous things. I would spend almost the entire summer in South Florida and every day Jon and I would be off on a new adventure. We spent way too much time watching the Kids in the Hall on Comedy Central which among other things shaped our off-beat and often ridiculous sense of humor, even to this day.
Jon playing video games in the '90s
Jon's mom was always profoundly nice to us. Jon and I would spend all day playing video games in his room and our very survival depended upon his mom bringing us hot pizza pockets, root beer, and fruit-by-the-foot. Jon's mom was a prestigious woman - the product of an older generation, she wore elegant dresses and was well-coiffed with a bouffant hair-style often covered by a large straw hat. In 1960s and 1970s she had worked at the White House in the Nixon administration as an Executive Secretary to Herb Stein, Ben Stein's dad, who was the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Or something like that.
Jon's Mom today. She still has a great sense of humor!
One Saturday night in Grade 8 Jon's mom had picked us up and was driving us home from whatever adventure we had been on that day. That year Jon's mom drove a white Mitsubishi Expo, a silly little car that we had christened "The Flaming Chariot". It was a small car but we were able to fit a lot of people inside. Riding in the Flaming Chariot that night were Jon, his mom, me, Jon's sister Megan, and our friends Henry and Dan.
L to R: Dan, Henry, & Jon after parasailing at the beach, June 1996
It was around 9pm when we were riding home and none of us had eaten dinner. It wasn't common for us to get fast food for dinner during the summer, usually there'd be a cook-out by the pool, or at the very least we'd get something a little more interesting like Publix Subs or Checkers. That night was an exception. As late as it was, we all decided on the obligatory stop at McDonald's before heading home.
We pulled into the Drive-Thru, Jon's mom lowered her window and ordered McDonald's for all six of us. Detail-oriented as always, she was careful to make sure the orders weren't screwed up and that we all got what we had wanted. "Thank you, please pull around to the first window." the server said through the loud speaker. This was one of those two-window Drive-Thrus, the first was where you paid for your order, then you'd pull ahead to the second window where they'd give you your food.
Jon, his Mom, the straw hat, and the "Flaming Chariot"
Jon's mom pulled up to the first window and was paying for our order. As our long day became the start of a fun night, our ridiculous sense of humor began to take over. Fueled by Kids in the Hall - and what I suspect was a skit from the short-lived Dana Carvey Show that aired a few months before with Dana Carvey and Steve Carell speeding away from a drive-thru - Jon was overcome by a brilliant idea.
"Hey Mom. Don't stop at the next window. Just keep driving."
"Wait. What?" replied Jon's mom, looking confused - but totally open to whatever ridiculous idea we were about to propose. We all started laughing. You wouldn't expect a woman like Jon's mom to be up for this level of ridiculousness, but she totally was. "Yeah Mrs. D! Just circle the Drive-Thru a few times!" I said. "Then we'll get our food!"
After having paid for six meals, and without even second-guessing us, Jon's mom hit the gas and flew right past that second window, and the McDonald's employee's arm sticking out of it with our food. We circled past the play land, around the front of the building, and pulled back into the Drive-Thru. Jon's mom whipped around the first curve and sped past the menu and loud speaker. We heard a muffled "Welcome to McDonald's can I..." blare through the speaker as we passed by. She took the next corner and gunned-it past both Drive-Thru windows at probably 30 miles per hour. The look on the employees faces looking back at us as we flew by was priceless.
Jon (left) and Me (center) a few years later after getting caught in the sand
We were cracking up! Two more times Jon's mom circled that McDonald's without slowing down. This prim-and-propper lady with a silly little car full of kids aimlessly circling a McDonald's was the sort of ridiculous dadaist spectacle that was so funny we laughed until it hurt! In the third lap Jon's mom finally stopped to get our food and acted as though nothing had happened. "Do we have straws?" she asked the girl at the window. A few McDonald's employees had gathered around, and there were some kids peering at us through the glass of the play land. I think the girl at the window gave Jon's mom a free chocolate shake, just because.
Though I don't suggest doing this, it was a fun Fast Food memory that I shared with some of my best friends and will always look back on with great fondness. Being there to see this and actually participating in it was something I'll always remember.
Dana Carvey & Steve Carell in the skit that likely inspired our laps around the McDonald's