Ronald. Fucking. McDonald.
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
I don’t like sharing this story, and I don’t think I’ve done it justice. But, here it is.
When I was three, I remember sitting in an otherwise vacant driveway—peeling off the brown, rotting skin of a walnut. By the time I was done, my hand was covered in maggots—which I found fascinating, just because I didn’t know what they were.
“Hey, there buddy!”
The shrill voice shot out of nowhere, while this gaunt, dark-haired, thick-eyed glasses guy paced his scrawny gait down a chipped sidewalk, and made his way toward me from the apartment complex behind where my mother, her mother, and her mother’s mother and I all lived. “Whatchu got there?”
“None of your business!” I squealed.
“Oh, it’s okay. I’m not a mean guy. My name’s Ronald—you know, like Ronald McDonald.” He smiled.
He had this…body language…about him. Like he’d done this before.
Mind you I didn’t think any of that at the time. My hands were covered in maggots, and I was only three. You wouldn’t think my memory would scratch that far back, but—
“Hey, why don’t you come wash off your hands! You’re mom’s not gonna like it that you got all filthy!”
And he talked to me all the way up the windy stairs, into his apartment.
And this guy…he was good with kids. He had stuffed animals, and candy, and turned the television on to Sesame Street.
And then, he began his speech.
“You know, I like kids! I wish I had some of my own! Where is your mother, now?”
“At work.” I said, “she works all the time.”
“That’s too bad,” he frowned. “I’ll tell you what: While she’s gone, we’re gonna have so much fun!”
And then, he talked about things I didn’t quite get. And he smiled that same smile. And then, he said:
“What color are your underwear?”
I didn’t answer him.
Then, he proceeded to pull down his pants, “See, these are the kind I wear. I like them because they’re so comfortable! Do you like Fruit-of-the-Loom?”
Which is the part where I wish I could tell you that I was smart enough to run for my life. But that’s not what happened.
I think you know what happened—which, in my three-year-old mind, was normal. After all, this person was an adult—and adults knew everything.
“You shouldn’t talk to strangers!” My grandmother warned me.
And then, she met him.
And everybody in the neighborhood loved Ronald-Fucking-McDonald, because he was friendly, and loved children.
“You probably liked it, didn’t you? You child-molested faggot!”
And those words would ring out their own dirge in my skull for the rest of my life. Some of the neighborhood kids found out, years later.
I just stood there while they hurled insults at me.
Eventually, I’d learn the hard way: “This is where you went wrong. Never trust strangers.”
And I haven’t trusted them since.