Dearest Rachel –
On my way home from the Halloween festival at church, I stopped at several different places to pick up lunch for the boys. Some things never change; even if they’re able to agree on a place they’re both willing to eat from – and unlike the three of us, they can usually manage that much (probably because Daniel tends to be willing to go along with whatever Logan has in mind) – I still wind up having to stop elsewhere, if only to get something to drink for them. Daniel, in particular, tends to fancy smoothies (which are pretty fancy in and of themselves, come to that), and I’ve gotten habituated to stopping at McDonald’s for Logan’s Diet Cokes. So that’s three stops for one meal for two people – although in fairness, it’s not like they are all within a few doors – or at worst, a crossing of the street – from each other. So it’s no big deal – one of the advantages of a well-populated suburb.
But as I pulled up to the McDonald’s drive-through menu board, I noticed something on special. Something that would, back in the day, have me calling you to see if you wanted one while I was there – to which you would likely have answered in the affirmative. Even if you didn’t want one at the moment, you’d put it in the freezer to be enjoyed later, when they were no longer available (like they weren’t for most of the year).
Yes, it’s that time of year; McRib season. Every fall for the last ten or twenty years (I’ve lost track, to be honest, but I’m fairly sure it’s somewhere between the two of those), the Golden Arches comes out with this interesting concoction of processed pork, formed in the shape of a miniature rack of short ribs (complete with the shape of bones, which, thankfully, are not a part of the sandwich), coated with barbecue sauce, topped with a reasonably generous helping of onions and pickles, and set in an elongated bun. And, without fail, you made as certain as possible to get one at least once each season – even if only to freeze for later. I wonder if it didn’t have something to do with that trauma going back to having lost your pacifier as a toddler; that deep-seated concern that, if you didn’t get at least one each time it came around, you’d never get to enjoy another.
Personally, I remember liking the sandwich well enough, if not to the point where I would seek it out (except on your behalf). While I don’t stop by Mickey D’s all that often, they are ubiquitous enough that I’ll eventually be aware that the season is upon us. And for whatever reason, despite not being nearly the fan of them that you were, I’ve had at least one each season since your passing, perhaps for old time’s sake.
This may be the last year, however, if Logan, and his sources, can be believed. When I told the boys about my discovery, he acknowledged he was already aware of it being available. But more to the point, he was aware that this was being advertised as its final appearance. Once they’re sold out this season, they will not be coming back, according to his sources.
Do I believe him? Well, I don’t doubt that he heard something to that effect. On my way back from this evening’s service, where I had been working the booth, I decided to order one yet again. After I’d placed my order, the screen on the drive-through showed my total (as it usually does), along with a sidebar ad for the item (which seems odd, since I’ve already made my purchase; what’s the point of upselling now?), captioned “Enjoy it like it’s your last.” In certain contexts, that sounds either morbid or threatening – but it also suggests that there may be some truth to whatever Logan heard.
On the other hand, the first few ‘McRib seasons’ were billed as ‘farewell tours’ for the seasonably popular item – and in fact, there have been gaps of several years between seasons before, as well. In short, they’ve threatened to pull it in the past, and it never really went away completely. So why should I believe it this time around?
Of course, there may be external factors that make this time a little different. From what I’ve heard, it’s not a particularly profitable item, but its scarcity gives it a certain popularity when it does come out that makes it a cult classic. I should know, since you were one of its cultists. Even having you sample a Subway creation that resembled the McRib a few years ago (and I rather preferred it, since you could accessorize it with so much more, and it was available in a footlong – which is to say, twice the size) didn’t dissuade you from the original. But costs are rising dramatically these days, and it may well be that the classic sells at a virtual loss this time around, so they’re giving it one last send-off before retiring it for good. You’d have been heartbroken, if you were here to see it – and you’d probably be sending me to stock up on them for the future.
But will I miss it? I honestly don’t know; I can’t say I think about it during the months it’s not available. When it shows up on a menu board, it comes to mind, and I find myself remembering your love for them, and it gives me a sort of bittersweet feeling. It’s just one more reminder that you’re not here to bring one home for, and that just makes me sad. If they’re gone, I have one less reminder of the things you loved to gnaw at me out of the blue like this. Yeah, I liked it as itself; I liked this last one I’ve brought home. But if I never have – or see – another? I don’t think it would cross my mind. I might even be grateful for the absence.
In a way, it stands to reason. I’m sure that you weren’t the biggest fan of the sandwich, but it seems fitting that, with you gone, there’s no real need for it to continue existing, at least as far as I’m concerned. Farewell, McRib, and here’s hoping that fast food heaven exists. Maybe if it does, you can have a few of them up in heaven to enjoy.
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