mcdonalds and tolstoy

So my husband is obsessed with Jim Gaffigan. Maybe obsessed is too strong of a word, but he definitely has every word Gaffigan has ever said memorized, so you be the judge.

Anyway, we recently watched his Mr. Universe stand up routine on Netflix, and have been referencing one certain segment for the past few days: the McDonald's bit. If you watch the video, the part I will be referring to begins at about 5 minutes and 20 seconds into the video.


Gaffigan talks about the sheer joy of McDonald's french fries coupled with the sheer embarrassment of admitting that you eat at the fast food joint. Many people act like they're too good for the golden arches, but Gaffigan is "tired of people acting like they're better than McDonald's." Even if you've never set foot in one, perhaps you get your McDonald's fix in a different form. His examples: gossip magazines, Glee, and the milkshake-like frappuccinos from Starbucks masquerading as "coffee."

Everyone -everyone- has their own McDonald's. I'll admit, the only thing I'm ordering from Mickey D's lately is their hazelnut lattes or iced coffee in summer, so I'm going through the drive-thru at best. But I would have to say my McDonald's comes in the form of still watching the Bachelor (why do I do it?), too much creamer in my coffee, and an obsession with Instagram.

Conversely, everyone has their own things about which they are pretentious - and it's super annoying. Designer clothes, the "travel vs. tourist" crowd, and wine aficionados may show that in this small way, I'm better than you. Organic food nuts, music buffs, and parenting "gurus" probably make up the loudest and most vexing group. I just recently tried quinoa, haven't gotten a new song on iTunes since like 2010, and am a fairly relaxed parent, so I can't claim any of those pretensions as my own. Mine is probably literature. In high school i read Anna Karenina just so people could see me walking around with Tolstoy. It did end up being one of my favorite books, which probably makes you want to punch me in the face. Don't blame you. It's like when people rave about how mashed up cauliflower is just as good as mashed potatoes. NO. It may be good, but it's not the same.

In Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project she reaches a point where she just has to admit to herself that she likes kiddie lit (children's literature) or at least young adult novels. As a writer she felt pressure to only read classics or books that would make her smarter. When she finally gave in (be Gretchen, not who other people think Gretchen should be) she found it truly made her happy to read the occasional children's novel. That, I think, is a fine example of McDonald's and Tolstoy duking it out. Tolstoy makes you feel smart and superior, but sometimes McDonald's just makes you feel happy.

We all have a McDonald's and we all have a Tolstoy. What's yours?

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