Chapter 15: The McDonald’s-Loving Thief
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At this point of my chemotherapy rounds, I had whittled away down to a meager one hundred and ninety-seven pounds. While fewer than two hundred “el-bees” sounded like a healthy weight to most, I was dying. Without one of my trademark silk shirts, anyone could have seen my ribs. Needless to say, I was emaciated and at the end of my proverbial rope.
And worse yet, the Body Mass Index – which is a scale to measure one’s weight versus their height – skews towards skinny, athletic folk rather than give an accurate portrayal of such a measurement. At my height, (Six feet, zero inches), I’m supposed to be between one hundred & sixty and one hundred & eighty pounds. The chemotherapy was slowly sapping my life force from out of me, leaving little more than skin and bones, and I still wasn’t skinny enough? Are you fucking kidding me?! What a crock of shit.
I had always been bigger than I needed to be (read: Gargantuan). I was pushing two hundred and sixty pounds at my biggest. It showed the worst around seventh grade (see picture below), and most of that was due to my lack of height at that year– aw hell, who am I kidding? I would melt five to seven American cheese slices with some milk in our microwave as a kid, then stir it up; only to eat the entire bowl with some tortilla chips. And that was just a snack after my fried chicken fingers and French fry supper.
But finally, I had thinned out partly through natural growth, and also made a conscientious effort in the beginning of my senior year of high school to lose weight.
Well, at least it was the commencement of the healthy mindset. I used to frequent the basement to dance and shadow box along with heavy metal songs blaring from out my small stereo. I’d play Godsmack, Disturbed, Stone Sour, and more, hoping the little bit of physicality would shed the pounds. And it seemed to have worked… or maybe it was the start of the Leukemia that did the job– hell, I’ll never know now.
But now during these six days back home, I was free to live life like it was “cheat day” every day. I would go to McDonald’s like it was going out of style. Up north, in our small Town of Fort Kent, we only had the two fast food chains: McDonald’s and Subway; and Subway was all too new for me. I wasn’t much of a “sandwich person.”
So I gorged on McDonald’s with my new “earnings.” I must have eaten there seven to ten times in six days. Seriously, that’s a lot.
But the trip to cholesterol-laden arteries wasn’t my only trek. To combat the boredom of my stay at the hospital, I was determined to get some sort of entertainment. So my brother and I ventured the big trip to the local K-Mart… Twenty miles away in Madawaska. When we had arrived in town– we stopped by McDonald’s for lunch. Hey, it’s the first thing when you get into town, and I was hungry.
The next stop was K-Mart. I had to wear a mask (surprise) but I didn’t care because I was going to my favorite department: Electronics. I felt like I had just hit the jackpot and it was burning a hole in my pocket.
Travis and I perused the video game section. There were dozens of Playstation 2, XBox, and Gamecube games, and just as many handheld games. Man, I had really wanted a Gamecube. That new Super Smash Bros. toyed with me from behind the locked glass case. I debated buying the whole system, then and there. I mean six hundred would surely cover the system and all the games I could ever want, right?
No, I can’t buy that, it’s too much. I need to pay some bills.
I turned on my heel to face the dismal movie selection. Sadly, they never had enough shelf space for a quality spread. I picked up some movies I wouldn’t mind watching a few times and threw them in the shopping cart. I looked down at the size of the cart. “A bit overkill,” I mentioned to my Trav.
This aisle in K-Mart had many memories for my brother and me. As soon as we entered the front doors we would make a b-line right to this very section to see the new releases. The trip to Madawaska was a long one to witness any semblance of traditional release windows of media; but hey, it was better than shipping it via snail mail.
One time, after the Nintendo 64 era had passed (around 2001), they had begun to switch all of the newer system’s games into the lockbox, and demolished the plastic racks that housed N64 games in a way that you could look at both the front and the back, but not be able to steal it.
Well, one day, I had walked by the aisle, as I’m wont to do, and saw a brand new, unopened Goldeneye 007 game cartridge sitting in front of the remains of those plastic racks. I paced back and forth like I was deciding on a few items, being mindful of the security cameras under the glass tiling above. I not so subtly carried the game as if I were to purchase it, and walked it over to the shoe aisle. Here, I took the cartridge and game manual out chucked the rest (including the security tag) back behind some shoeboxes.
I thought I would have been banned from going there. They’d find out, and arrest me in front of my parents. I’d be in jail before graduating high school! Every time I had stepped foot in that store since I’d get an overwhelming fear of being caught. This time I’m busted. But alas, it never happened.
This is where I tell you that stealing is bad and that you should never steal anything, especially now. But at the time, I didn’t feel too guilty about it. I mean, I did steal a pack of gum from the Ames department store when I was about five, but my Mom caught me then and made me bring it back to the store and apologize. I guess that lesson wasn’t learned as firmly as she had hoped!
But this Goldeneye was something we would play for hours on end every weekend until the sun came up. And here it was, just lying there, ready for me to take it… I had to. So I did. I’m not normally a thief, but this was absolutely perfect.
I felt bad about it after, but I had months of enjoyment from the game since I swiped it. That was until my brother and I got into a tussle and the N64 flipped over landing directly on the Goldeneye cartridge… snapping the circuit board; rendering the game useless.
But now I stood there, in the same aisle in which I had become a criminal. I glanced up at the glass tiling remembering my fear, and shook it off, deciding to try some music for a change as that aspect had been sorely missed during my cancer treatments. So I sauntered around the aisle into the music section and saw it: a bright red Sony Walkman CD player. What beauty! It was $59.99 and I had to have it.
I carefully dropped it into my cart and checked out some CDs that had been digging an earworm into my brain. My haul was complete. I had that magnificent CD player (complete with switchback headphones, a few CDs to go with it, and a few DVDs to watch on the floor’s PS2. Life was good.
I checked out at the front of the store. As I waited for my turn, I looked around at the people staring at me. That fear arose within once more then I remembered: Oh right, cancer… bald… mask, how could I forget? At any rate, I shyly glanced at the camera carefully placed in the corner of the ceiling overlooking the registers. I didn’t care if they busted me now; I have a way to stave off jail time. I’m getting chemotherapy. But the only time I have to worry about now was spending some of the quality variety with my family before I go to war again.
Hmm, kind of hungry; I wonder if McDonald’s is open?
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.