We are waiting for our food to arrive. I notice there is an unmistakable ‘beachy’ taste to the St Kilda McDonalds Burger Restaurant. It smells of algae and jellyfish. Maybe I’m just hungry. There is sand in every possible crevice and a salty, thin layer of magic on every piece of furniture – If you’re wearing shorts, use it to index your body fat, please. No, I’m telling you, it’s the people here… Maybe let’s employ a colourful metaphor, rather than coming up short with ‘beachy’. Let’s say, it tastes like a sandy, pink and blue chewing gum composite, you peeled off from under one of the magic-glazed tables, hoping its previous consumer is currently giving head in the bathroom rather than 10 minutes ago – what’s best described as ‘funky’! Sic erat scriptum. Let’s move on.
I’m looking around the place like an entomologist with an eye infection. A larger group of high schoolers is sitting at the table across from us. They just finished their crumbed chicken feet and gnawed-off bones are being replaced by mobile cloud processors. To me, they might just as well be gathered behind a thick, protective layer of plexiglas as they resort to their supersocial group-mating rituals after feeding.
Our burgers have arrived. I unwrap a weighty 3050kcal and take an absent-minded bite from what I had curated on an interactive screen without ever taking an eye off the troop.
Five minutes into my creepy stakeout, I realise the short-haired girl with the pretty, organic face, who only just exclaimed ‘I hate seeing men pee’ is actually… well, a man. His delicate face stands out from purple highlights and a knit jacket that suggests the sheep they took the substance from was long dead when they sheered it. I’m shielding my food with an empty basket of fries.
I got classic sesame instead of the brioche I clearly selected in the bun section. A little annoyed, I’m being taught a lesson in humility by the subjects of my field research – A gesture of care and mutual reassurance among omega individuals. This is Jane Goodall material: The sourdough-faced wranger kisses a real girl on the head. He gives her a gentle squeeze around the shoulders after she reflected to the group, it would be harder to recycle their leftovers, if they weren’t to separate out half empty cups of water first – You can get water at McDonalds?! – Kissing her on top of her head (?!) and telling her, that he hopes, they will be best friends forever. I’m not making this up! Loud and clear.
The vulgarly platonic kisser is the nerd of the troop. His glasses could stop a bullet. He also carries a meticulously laced-up backpack and at about 16 years of age, is wearing a groom’s suit from the 80s. One would typically go out on a limb and assume this affectionate gesture is the little orange goblin’s long tail plan to plant seed outside his species. But the female in question is not what recent studies of my, comparatively rustic, generation have found to be ‘fuckable’. No, someone packed the entire women’s water polo team into one turtle neck sweater and put a wig on it. They will be best friends for life. I believe it. Still happily liking each other’s Facebook posts when I’m getting fed purée by a faceless robot on a hover board.
You’d think they migrated to St Kilda from a one-horse town, they’re so polite to each other in their edible clothes. They seem happier and more confident with their bully’able inadequacies than I ever managed to be at the age of leather pants (I was saving up money to buy a motorbike) and average straight sex. But I had only just overcome masturbation and 12 sided dice – there was a lot to live up to. These kids however enjoyed liberties in their infant years, I waited 15 minutes at 64kb per second for a snapshot of; or had to muster all the courage of a 15-year-old to venture into a world of middle aged freaks behind the acrylic-beaded door curtains of a video rental. If only someone told me, they cannot believe that ‘Justin and Sebastian weren’t allowed to leave class to discuss their relationship’ or that Freak/geek96 wished on Twitter ‘that my #firstDaughter is a girl’! – I would tap a touchscreen and express my immediate sympathy in front of a world audience. Promise. Would I still be sitting in a McDonald’s in my thirties with a girlfriend who has around 3 thousand friends on Facebook, contemplating if I already had my 15 minutes of fame and whether they sucked or not? Probably. But who cares?
Enjoy marketing to that target audience Citi Bank. The world has turned. I just don’t know which way right now.