Mary Bok: A filet of fish sandwich that wasn't

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 1:00pm

    I am OK... except for the fact that this “Stay at Home” thing is wearing me down to a frazzle... and the decisions I make to deal with the Gaping Alone make me wonder.

    Yesterday for instance, I drove all the way down to Rockland to get a“Filet of Fish” sandwich” for my lunch . That would be at Mac Donald’s, of course.

    I can’t tell you what possessed me, except that I really wanted to see people,  and figure out how the hell they were coping with this thing.

    It was about noon or so, and the parking lot was full all kinds of cars and motorcycles, and clusters of people standing around, sipping Cokes and eating all manner of stuff, while little kids ran in and out of their midst. 

    Every now and then they would look up at the sky and squint at the bright spring sunshine; I, very carefully, drove around these folks, and headed for the ‘Drive Through Lane,’ where you can order, pay for and pick up your lunch, without getting out of the car and risk getting too close to some dubious looking stranger who quite possibly, might have a virus in his/her pocket.

    I didn’t even have to TALK to a living soul! —just to the little metal box that took my order and then told me where to go to get it—and ’haveaniceday.’

    Just as I was about to pull away from that little talking thing, I heard it call me back, saying: “Hey, would you like to get a free extra order of fries with your Happy Meal, Mam? There’s supposed to be a little apple pie that comes with that ‘Meal', but we are out of apple pies today, so McDonalds is offering to substitute the extra fries, if you’d like to have ‘em….?”

    I told her, “Sure….anything….” and drove away towards the ‘Pay Here’ window….and then the ‘Pick Up’ window.

    By that time, I was s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g, and I just about dove into my Happy Meal box, decorated with scary looking Trolls and stuff, and began to eat my French fries and sip the hot coffee, which was surprisingly good, I must say! Then, before you could say, “Jack Robinson,” I was driving West on Route 17, on my way home. 

    After a while, I reached into my Happy Meal box to retrieve my “Filet of Fish’ sandwich , and was horrified to discover that it wasn’t a fish sandwich at all, but a perfectly miserable hamburger! “Honest to God! It was awful! 

    It was wafer thin and dry, and felt kind of stale in my mouth….even after I tried to moisten it with a gulp of coffee! I tried to figure out what kind of meat they must have used to carry out such a charade; but, by then, I was already on my way home, so I didn’t go back to discuss it with the little metal box. 

    We tell stories. 
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    Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students.

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    — Kathrin Seitz, editor

    "Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." — Henry Miller

    Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at

    —And I ended up eating most of my substituted hamburger, just because I was sooo hungry!

    —And it was such a beautiful day!

    —And, there were so many people out and about, driving across the landscape, just like I was doing,

    —And, of course, I imagined that they were all eating MacDonald’s hamburgers, too.

    —And, if they could do it, whatsthematterwithme that I think I can’t?

    So anyway, by the time I got home, the hamburger was gone…. and so were the fries! Fortified as I was, I stepped out of my car, and back into the safety of my Isolation, vaguely reassured tha the rest of the world was doing quite well without my company, and that I might just as well get on with my life!

    I didn’t go back to McDonald’s today for lunch, and, I dare say I won’t, for a while....