An Ode To Fast Food
My yee-paw led the great Cheng diaspora from zung gwok to
yee fow. She and yee-gong bought their American Dream
in the form of a 7/11 where my grandma worked. There, she learned
her first English words: hot dog, nacho cheese.
Mom worked in a garment factory. She would bring
home scraps of fabric, sewing
rhinestone studded Bebe shirts long into the
night. In the morning, she’d make hot water
for breakfast and walk me to my bus. One time, a man
stopped us. Sweaty and red,
he leered at her. She looked away, but he leaned in closer.
When he realized she spoke no English,
he smirked and yelled, “Leng lui! Leng lui!” I clutched her
closer and he laughed at us.
Dad worked in restaurants. His prized possession was a
Buick with baby blue velvet seats
and an unreliable engine. The best thing about that
car was that he’d drive us to McDonald’s where
we’d help ourselves to fat stacks of napkins, and they’d tease
me for the way I ate French fries.
I savored the sweetness of the ketchup
savored how good it felt to mix Sprite and Coke
together. Dad joked it was our special family recipe. My favorite
was the Big Mac. I’d devour it layer by layer — and in that
moment nothing mattered except
three buns, the three of us, and thousand island dressing.
Afterwards, I threw up in the Buick. Dad cleaned and mom
yelled and then,
they both cleaned
but those baby blues were never the same. He missed his shift, and
the restaurant told him not to come back.
By Alison Zheng
Alison Zheng graduated from UC Davis w/ an English degree a million years ago. She’s a Scorpio Sun/Pisces Moon. She thinks writing is tight.