Monday, May 14, 2012

A Healing Hamburger

Madrid, Spain

August 1996

I had been in Madrid for only 24 hours and something was wrong. A bodily ailment of some kind. I had eaten hardly zilch since my arrival, I classify buttered buns as such, still I felt no pang of hunger. I surmised that my body was at war but had yet issued an adverse noticeable result of said ailment. Experiencing no hunger after a day of little intake left me inclined to force a meal into my belly to dissuade my fear of collapsing of an unknown illness while traipsing through the streets of a foreign land.

Concerned as to whether or not I could force my belly to consume and still retain the meal I’d be tossing down my gullet, I aimed for something that my insides would readily recognize. Recognition, I thought, would increase the retention possibilities. My self-prescribed antidote, I’m embarrassed to say, but here it is, I went to McDonalds.

I know, ‘The horror! A land of wonderful and delicious foods and Klem eats at McDonalds.’ ‘This is for medicinal purposes,’ I told myself. As a form of penance I made myself order in Spanish.

“Dos hamburgesas con queso y una Coca grande,” I spoke to the Spanish cashier. I was flattered at my language skills when she responded in Spanish and handed me change. ‘I spoke well enough to make her think I’m a Spanish speaker,’ so pleased I was with myself.

I sat at the table staring out the window in the sunny street and, despite the total lack of hunger, consumed the meal in its entirety and in delight. I discarded my wrappers, placed the plastic tray atop the bin, and exited the franchise fast food establishment. I conferred with my map then continued en route taking in numerous wonders of the fabled city. Hunger later returned at the appropriate interval. Concern subsided and I pronounced myself healed.

A month later I met up with a friend of mine, McGettigan the Elder, with whom I’d vacationed with briefly in Barcelona immediately prior to Madrid. Turns out he suffered from the same belly ailment. With this knowledge we pinpointed our mistake to a walkup food kiosk in Barcelona where we dined the morning before our travels took us in different directions. It was a bad schwarma that did us in.