As dining hall food becomes monotonous and I search for new Bloomington restaurants to try, my mind lingers on one thing. For some, going home for breaks is marked by homemade meals or time spent with family. While these things are undoubtedly important to me, the thing most reminiscent of home for me is the pairing of McDonald’s fries with an Oreo McFlurry.
This meal isn’t particularly filling, nor could it be described as healthy. In fact, McDonald’s is far from my favorite fast food place just based on its menu offerings. But my fries and McFlurry tradition is without a doubt my guilt-free pleasure. It started when I was first able to drive, and the excitement of my freedom was novel and cherished. It may have taken a couple tries to perfect the order, but I quickly realized the reliability and complementary nature of the combination.
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The salty, hot crispiness of the fries dipped in a thick and creamy McFlurry is a taste reserved for going through the drive thru with my best friend and talking for hours in the parking lot. We take turns covering the bill, but the familiar comfort of the tradition is priceless for me.
As an out-of-state student with no car, I have yet to try McDonald’s — much less this sacred duo — in the state of Indiana. Maybe I will keep it that way for the next few years that I am here. To me, fries and a McFlurry should be consumed after 9 p.m., in the car with a best friend or a few, sitting in the parking lot of my old high school.
It clearly isn’t a glamorous scene — but there is something sacred about the interior of my car filled with the greasy smell of hot fries and laughter over gossip and stories. The McDonald’s ritual is one for debriefing, getting something sweet after dinner or preparing to say goodbye until the next break. The only thing that could ruin it is a broken ice cream machine.
Even as my and my hometown friends’ lives change as we transition into adulthood, I suspect this tradition will be one of the things to keep us tied to each other. Maybe our conversations will shift from high school crushes to grown-up job opportunities — but I hope they always happen over fries and McFlurries.