But ultimately, I have to go with FAST FOOD. Not because I frequent the places, given the fifty-somethings' fascination with cholesterol and blood pressure and sodium and all that. But ah, the memories! Forget the arteries!
Growing up in Baltimore, the first big fast food chain we patronized was Gino's, named for and owned by Gino Marchetti, a pro football player who helped the Baltimore Colts win the NFL championship in pre-Superbowl 1958 and '59.
When Gino's opened uptown, me 'n' the boys would take out pocket change of a summer evening, and walk the mile or so, over the relatively new Baltimore Beltway bridge, where we would pump our fists in the air to get the trucks to give us those thrilling diesel honks, and hang out at Gino's, buying a burger, fries, and in my case, orange soda, for less than a dollar.
Over the years, Gino's, like most local chains, gave in and sold out to a bigger chain; in our case, Roy Rogers. More recently, Roy Rogers has sold out to the Ubiquitous Golden Arches. I was in that very establishment a month ago while visiting "the homeland", and I must say the interior appointments and accoutrements of these fast food joints have improved, with HDTVs spewing news content, some wireless availability, and (in our home town) a cozy gas burning fireplace.
I did a hitch at the Ubiquitous Golden arches, way back when, before all those amenities, spending a summer as a french fry man (as if one has to specialize). What I remember most is coming home pretty much coated with grease. You had to occasionally take a big block of shortening and smoosh it into the fry vat, then drop and raise baskets of sizzling hot fries, dumping salt on them, and laying them out to dry and await the scooper. It was simply impossible to rid oneself of the grease and salt permeating the pores and soaking the skin.
I use fast food joints mainly for coffee when on the road. The drive-up windows are pretty convenient, if you do not have a squabbling family of seven in a van in front of you trying to make their way through some ridiculous order involving virtually every item on the menu and three order changes per kid.
Once in a while, I give in and savor a Whopper or a single. I can also make a pretty respectable meal out of the Wendy's value menu - salad, potato, chili, etc..., although the total packaging it takes to serve it all up is criminal. I also would give a shout out to some of the offerings at Arby's (a decent Reuben, for example), and the occasional KFC or Arthur Treacher's ok if you follow up with some raw carrots and celery to just sort of offset the whole healthy/unhealthy food balance.
So, anyhow, that's my salute to Fast Food, Our American Necessary Evil. Ok, not even necessary. More like a guilty (occasional) pleasure.
A fond farewell to the 2010 Winter Olympics. I put in quite a few hours over the past couple of weeks catching whatever event was on, and I will now be going through the inevitable Olympics withdrawal. But the Summer Games are only a couple years away, and I suppose that if these Olympics went on for a couple more weeks, I would eventually tire of watching
people skidding on the ice and snow in various ways.
But it's ben a fun run, with quite a few memorable highlights.
'til next time!