Things got all mucked up this year with my annual Shamrock Shake and Fish Fillet dinner, my frosty sodium tag-team tribute to a time when I celebrated Good Friday with the hollowed, sunken cheeks of a person who was going to be deprived of Pepperoni Pizza for every Friday that fell within the next 40 days.
It started when I saw three girls sucking on green drinks earlier this week. It took me a second, then:
"Wait," I said. "Are those Shamrock Shakes?!"
"Already," I said. "My God! Shamrock Shakes!"
"My mom only drinks Shamrock Shakes once a year, always with a Fish Filet," one of the girls said.
It's hard. That fine line between wanting to be part of an elite community of people with a super specific yearly indulgence and wanting to be defined as THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD who has an annual Shamrock Shake and Fish Fillet dinner.
I immediately texted my cousin Drewcifer. Long ago I introduced him to this pleasure of the palate. Now, like someone who has saved another from the mediocrity of Strawberry, I feel forever obligated to connect with him over Shamrock Shake updates.
("I'm getting mine tonight," he texted back on Wednesday).
I decided Thursday, Feb. 9, would be the big day. That gave me two and a half days to fantasize about the vaguely gold fish-y orange square slathered in a tangy tartar sauce the consistency of Udder Cream and the neon slab of something like cheddar cheese if cheddar cheese bounced. French Fries and the cool minty drink of thick.
I selected the best damn McDonalds in town, the one on Central Entrance that looks from the outside like a 1960s interpretation of what the year 2010 would look like, and from the inside like Olive Garden with a ball pit.
The last time I set foot in McDonalds: Chuck and I were looking for a public restroom in Echo Park. The human litter box shaped as a toilet that we had found minutes earlier was still fresh in our heads and ripe in our noses when we waded through a creek of unidentifiable water-ish something snaking its way from the bathroom at McDonalds to the middle of the restaurant. Still. We had seen worse, so, SOLD. Though he exited gagging, it was not as bad as the time he barfed after using a Porta-Potty at the Spirit Valley Street Dance.
On Thursday night I ordered the No. 5 with a Medium Shamrock Shake. I briefly forgot that McDonalds has been adding Whipped Cream to this drink since Lent 2011. I hate this. I hate it so hard. But more on principle, fucking with my drink, than on taste, delicious. And that is exactly what I think -- I hate this, I hate this -- with every shiver pulse that cold crushes my brain.
I found a tall top table, set down my tray, opened "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," and began chowing my way through the personal party.
Then! A McDonalds employee walked up to my table and gave me an extra ice cream cone. For free. Twist. Chocolate and Vanilla. I set aside my meal and re-prioritized, meltiest foods first. All in all, the whole experience was more than satisfactory.
Except for this: In reviewing the Shamrock Shakes of yesteryear I realized that usually I wait until March to have my annual Shamrock Shake. I caved in early February. That's it. Over. It will be almost impossible to not see another person slurping green in the next month and a half.
I'm not sure I'm strong enough to wait another year.