Why am I eating these fries?
I don’t even like this kind. They spill out of a greasy white paper bag like so many overgrown crispy-fried grubs. I could buy a whole pound of these exact same crinkle-cut fries from the freezer case at the grocery store for about the same price we paid for this one bag. Fat, greasy, bloated, they’re either overcooked and crunchy as too-thick potato chips, or else soggy and pale.
I bite into one. Salt and crunchiness, then the smooth, creamy starch at the center fill my mouth.
These aren’t real fries, I tell myself as I pick up another one. Real fries still have the skin on. These fries were probably made from dried potato powder mixed with glue and pressed into little crinkle-fry shaped molds.
One of the fries is bitter, a little too overcooked. I take two next time and drench them in ketchup to wash down the bad taste.
If I’m going to be stuffing untold fat and carbohydrate calories into my body, why don’t I choose a food I actually like? These fries are not worth it.
I’m eating them faster now, as if trying to get it over with. My hand, almost without my permission, keeps picking them up, dipping them in ketchup and popping them in my mouth.
These fries are not my responsibility. I didn’t even order them, my husband did. I’m not even hungry. I already ate my burger. That was more than enough.
I am going to stop now.
I try wiping my fingers on my napkin, cleaning off the salt and grease. I clasp my hands on the slightly sticky table top, which feels as if so many cokes have spilled over it there’s no more wiping it clean. Trying to distract myself, I look at the chipped paint on the picnic table boards, studying the progression of color. Brown, then blue, and finally now red. If I just sit here and wait, my husband will eat the rest of the fries. I know he will. They’re his anyway. He just asked if I wanted some.
I pick up the ketchup bottle and without even thinking, squirt some in the top of the Styrofoam box my burger came in. Trying to be artistic, I run a line around the place where the sides meet the bottom.
There are still a few fries spilling out of the paper bag onto a Styrofoam plate on a sticky picnic table in the strip mall where I’m having lunch with my husband. I can’t let the ketchup I just squirted from the bottle go to waste.
I pick up another French fry, dip it in the ketchup, and eat it.