Tag Archives: burger king

Benny Bobblehead and Constance Cussalot



I love fast food.

It’s not an easy confession to make. It’s like saying you love commercials (which I occasionally do too, and not just during the Super Bowl).

But you rarely hear someone professing their love of, say, Big Macs, though their personal economies may suggest otherwise. If anything, that giant M has become a scarlet letter of sorts, aglow in neon and pastels. A friend’s daughter makes sure the car is free of McD wrappers before mom picks up friends, lest they discover evidence she ate crap. The loss of that demographic must haunt the ghost of Ray Kroc. 

But take the M off sign, the Jack out of the box, the crown from the King, and the experience becomes something different. If you stopped at a local coffee shop every morning for your drink and biscuit, we’d find it quaint. The people cooking your food may wear a different uniform, but they are doing the same thing, providing the same service. Just in plastic.

Screw that. I get to know my fast food servers, who know my dog by name (and inquire when she’s not in the car with me). This morning, the manager of my local Jack in the Box literally chased me down before I pulled out of the drive-thru to give me a “VIP” key chain, good for 10% off any order, at any outlet, no expiration date or usage limitations. It’s a dubious honor, to be sure. I’m surprised they even have such a thing. But let’s see a Starbucks — or any coffee shop — offer customers something similar.

Plus, with fast food, you get experiences like Benny Bobblehead and Constance Cussalot, my favorite homeless denizens of my local McD‘s.

Benny is a homeless man who waits at the end of the McD drive-thru. He bobs his head constantly to peek around the corner to greet drivers after they’ve  they’ve picked up their orders (and change). It’s a brilliant location, one that rivals freeway exits. Regardless of whether you give him change, his response is the same: “God bless.”

Connie doesn’t request money, though she is less diplomatic. She waits at the exit of McD‘s, cussing up a storm. She’s more of a “goddamnit” girl than a godbless one. Keep your window rolled down, and, if she notices, she’ll toss a “motherfucker,” “bitch” or “asshole” your way. I wonder how many parents have had to explain Constance  Cussalot to their kids.

Last weekend, both were in fine form. Benny was looking dapper, decked out in a sport coat (minus the shirt). He’s more hirsute than I thought.  I gave him my change (though, confession: I keep the quarters), and, with windows yawning open, braced for Connie’s wrath. She was spewing Category 5 expletives.

“Damn motherfuckers!” she yelled at no one in particular. “Sonofabitches!!”

As we neared the exit, Esme heard the rant. Her ears perked as she stood on her hind legs, just tall enough to look out the passenger window at the commotion. She saw Connie and, for the first time, Connie saw her.

“GODDAMN!!…” Connie began — until she saw Esme. “Awwwww! Wittle doggie!! Whooz a good baby??!! Whoooz a good doggie??!! WHOOOOZ A GOOD DOGGIEEE???!!!”

Her kind vitriol trailed off as we merged into traffic. I assume she returned to her tirade at the next soccer mom she saw.

America may hold its baristas dear. I prefer to hold the pickles, hold the lettuce.



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One Comedian, to Rule Them All


Jon Stewart exits The Daily Show tonight aloft so many laurels you’d think he was being escorted to the farewell ship of The Lord of the Rings.

But there are three groups whose reaction I await as much as I dread Stewart’s departure.

* The first is Comedy Central. How do you replace a show that was nothing less than a game-changer? Stewart’s 16-year span will be viewed as the 70’s salad days of Saturday Night Live were for scores of ascending stars, including Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Akroyd. The Daily Show had something akin in the news brothers, Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert, who have similarly entered new celebrity orbits. Even the show’s B-list reporters, which included Ed Helms, John Oliver and Rob Corddry, made most primetime network comedies look like funeral wakes.


* What about the Democratic National Committee? Stewart was the party’s most recognizable (and influential) advocate outside of Barack Obama. A CBS poll found that 21% of Americans aged 21-29 — the new Democratic Party lifeblood — got the bulk of its news from The Daily Show. Producers may have found a young, hip, millennial-friendly replacement in Trevor Noah. But the  show — at least as it skews now, which is D.C.-centric — thrived on a veteran jokester with real political acumen (and razor wire imitation skills).

Who will become the Left’s new beacon? Bill Maher’s ego makes even Progressives wince. Colbert will likely take a more centric tone as he replaces David Letterman on the national late-night front. The Democrats have always benefitted from having a sense of humor (why are the Right’s media spokesdouches — O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. — such angry, pasty blubberers?) Hillary’s presidency is a lock, but DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz would be wise to either champion a new megaphone for younger voters, or convince Stewart to take a more open, direct role with the party.


* Finally, I wonder about Arby’s. Stewart has always had a special spot in his heart for skewering the alleged meat vendor.

No one really knows why. Even Stwewart isn’t sure, confessing  that the restaurant chain has always taken its ribbing in good humor. “And they really are wonderful folks,” the comedian once said on air.

Perhaps it’s the name. It sounds like a cartoon sound effect. Maybe it’s  a lot easier name to lampoon than Burger King or McDonald’s. The all-time champ, though, is a 24-hour convenience store chain I discovered in Arkansas called Kum & Go. I swear.


Personally, I think Stewart got the idea from The Simpsons (he admits he’s a fan of the funniest sitcom of all-time). He has quoted Homer, welcomed Simpsons guests aplenty, even dropped the occasional ‘D’oh!’

I think he was inspired by a specific episode years ago, where Marge explains why you can’t trust commercials: “Homer, people do all kinds of crazy things in commercials. Like eat at Arby’s.”

Admittedly, I love the near roast beef and cheddar, which likely contains neither. Regardless, they won my heart with August’s official’s HB Commercial of the Month, on self-deprecation alone.

Fare thee well, Jon. Good luck in The Shire.



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