Thursday, March 12, 2015

Time Travel

I've been extolling the virtues of McDonald's Shamrock Shakes for years and there really isn't anything left to say about them.

But, since it's the 45th anniversary of the minty, green sludge, I wanted to pay tribute one last time.

Taking a cue from Pittsburgh adventurer Rick Sebak, I decided to turn lunch -- a typically mundane activity -- into an epic journey. So, Sarah and I jumped in the car and took a road trip to The Big Mac Museum.

 
Yes, there is a Big Mac Museum in North Huntingdon, PA.
 
 
Actually, it's just a regular McDonald's restaurant with display cases that house nightmare-inducing toys.
 
Oh, they also have a 14-foot tall burger.
 
 
The twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun sculpture is impressive, for sure, but it lacks the bizarre charm of the Officer Big Mac Jail I remember from my youth.
 
 
After gawking at the big Big Mac I ordered a small Big Mac, along with a large Shamrock Shake. The elderly, red-haired cashier who took my money was decked out in green, with sparkly four-leaf clovers dotting her vest. She looked like a minimum-wage leprechaun and that definitely enhanced the flavor of my shake! 
 
Sarah demanded a Happy Meal, even though the toy inside was a boring Barbie doll. God, the toys used to be so much more bad-ass! There was a kid in my elementary school named Mike whose uncle was a McDonald's executive. Mike always came to class armed with new, vintage and even prototype Happy Meal toys. To a third-grader, that shit's like Spanish Fly and I was totally smitten. (Still am.)
 
Anyway, we ate our lunch in the play area, which was teeming with loud children. The kids tried to scale the Big Mac while me and all the other weary mothers ate cold fries and stared at our cellphones. It was a bit depressing.
 
I sucked down my 700-calorie Shamrock Shake in less than five minutes (brain freeze!) and we left. After spending $3.75 in Turnpike tolls, I didn't want to go home right away, so we drove around. That's when I spotted Jason Voorhees.
 
 
Tomorrow is Friday the 13th! How could I not go in this store?
 
Nothing makes me more nostalgic for my childhood than looking at Nintendo paraphernalia. And, man, did Cash-In Culture have that in spades!
 






 
When I was a kid, my video gamer-skills rivaled that of Jimmy "The Wizard" Woods.
 
 
And, even then, I had a huge girl-crush on Jenny Lewis!


I almost bought a NES for $70, but figured I no longer have the lung capacity to blow into a dusty cartridge 10 hours a day. I will probably regret that decision when I'm drunk at 2 a.m. and want to play "Bubble Bobble". 


The Cash-In Culture employee was super-nice. We chatted about old games and my impromptu road trip. She said I wasn't the first tourist she'd met that day. Just before my arrival, a couple from Verona had stopped in on their way to the Flight 93 Memorial.

Damn. I immediately felt like an asshole for making a pilgrimage to see a goddamn sandwich.

And then I had the nerve to buy a Nikolai Volkoff action figure! (I threw in some Bill & Ted trading cards to pad my unpatriotic purchase.)

 
Before heading back to the 'burgh, I took one more spin down Route 30. I saw lots of things that made me smile: An ice cream shop located on Rocky Road. A still-in-business Busy Beaver hardware store! And -- Holy Mother of God! -- a mural that is second only to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in its beauty!
 
 
 
Located in the Pizza Hut parking lot, this retaining wall is a time capsule of '80s cheese. I mean, where else can you see Stallone, Cher, Kenny Rogers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, New Kids on the Block (next to the Beatles!), Cryptic Word-Bubble Bart Simpson, Madonna's cleavage, Batman, The Terminator, Spock (R.I.P.) and the freakin' California Raisins all while eating a stuffed crust pizza?!
 
The only thing missing from this masterpiece is Jesus wearing a Book It pin!
 
My brain practically exploded with happiness! I said a silent prayer to Uncle O'Grimacey, patron saint of Shamrock Shakes, thanking him for blessing me with Irish luck and leading me on the most excellent adventure.
 
(air guitar)

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