What’s In A Big Mac?

If you’re about my age, I bet you know the answer to this question.

I can’t remember if it was the 80’s or 90’s when McDonald’s ran a series of commercials with the song listing the items in a Big Mac.

Sing along with me:

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun.

Did you hear the music?

Are you wondering why I care about Big Macs?

I used to love them but haven’t eaten one in a while. My daughter and I were talking about fast food this week and as soon as she asked about the Big Mac, the song came to mind and I instantly remembered every item they put into that sandwich.

What a testament to the food giant’s ability to educate me. And the pile of money they spent doing it.

How many other nonsensical factoids do we have crammed in our heads from television commercials, radio ads, and cartoons?

I’m wondering how to feel about this. Should I be annoyed that a bunch of companies filled my head with information about their products? Or is that the price of living in our consumer culture?

Sound off. Tell me how you feel.



My Father Made Me Do It

My father and I are very different. He’s loud and confrontational and I tend to get lost in any group larger than four people. Make him mad and you’ll know. I’m the opposite. It is really hard to offend me and you would have to try really hard to make me yell.

Recently I did two things that really surprised me.

First, I was in a restaurant/bar with my daughter. She was singing karaoke and a really drunk guy kept hitting on her. He was about 40 and she was 17. When he started touching her I tapped him on the shoulder and shared a few words with him.  Two minutes later he left the restaurant and didn’t come back. I didn’t threaten him per se, but I think he saw in my eyes that he was on dangerous ground.

Today I was in my allergist’s office. They have a policy about staying there 30 minutes after an injection because you could have an allergic reaction and die if they don’t attend to you right away. It’s a bit of CYA, but I have always complied with the policy.

Right after my injection I got an important phone call that was critical to one of my girls. I can’t say what the call was about, but imagine a highly confidential call that has to be taken in that second or else.

I got up and headed for the outside door.

The nurse told me I couldn’t go outside. I told her I needed to take the call.

She told me to stay inside.

I asked, “Do you have a gun?”

She said she didn’t and I walked outside. I didn’t see her again, but the doc came out with a concerned look on his face in about 45 seconds.

Driving home I chuckled to myself about the gun comment even though I felt bad about upsetting the nurse. The words just blurted out of me and I wondered where they came from.

It didn’t take long to realize I was acting like my father in both situations. While I almost never model his aggressive behavior, when my kids are threatened, my reaction is completely instinctive. I rarely confront anyone, but my father taught me how. I should thank him for that someday.

Fiction is similar. While most of us never have a chance to be heroic, books and movies give us a recipe for good decision making in a crisis. (And you thought they were just for fun.)

If an earthquake hit or if terrorists attacked your neighborhood,  who would be your guide?

Who’s Rowing Your Boat?

Last week I took my oldest daughter, her friend, and my girlfriend’s young daughter out on the river to do some crabbing.

If you have never caught blue crabs before, you should try. It’s a lot of fun and you don’t need a license in most places. All you need is some fishing line or string, some uncooked chicken (legs or wings) and a net. It’s a good idea to bring a bucket and a ruler if you plan on keeping crabs. They need to be 5″ from point to point to be legal here in Massachusetts.

We caught a few crabs, not very many, and as the day went on, the wind picked up. We weren’t far from the mouth of the river, so with the wind blowing and the tide coming in, our little boat was getting blown around pretty good.

I have been around the water all my life and maybe sometimes I don’t realize my age. I didn’t bother hauling a motor and rowed us out instead because I like the exercise.

The wind blew us about two hundred yards up river, our anchor dragging in the mud. About that time my daughter decided she wanted to go, so we hauled anchor and I started rowing.

A funny thing happened.

I rowed harder and harder, but we didn’t move. The wind and the tide were so strong that my rowing could only keep us in place. It was then I noticed the girls laughing, singing, and telling jokes. They had no idea that I couldn’t move the boat. I was getting nervous, thinking I might have to get to shore and pull the boat downriver.

I realized then that for many things they rely on me without giving it a second thought. They aren’t concerned at all about me getting them back safely because they trust that I will. Sometimes I guess we fail to realize how hard others are working to help us. I thought of all the friends I have out there recommending my books to friends, helping me  make a go of writing for a living.

That positive energy was what I needed to dig a little deeper and beat the wind. We got to shore fine of course and the kids never guessed how nervous I was about getting there.

So who is rowing for you?