I hate mayonnaise and it is all McDonald’s fault. To this day, I would rather get punched in the face and have all of my teeth knocked out than to eat it. Why, you may ask? Well, stranger, it all started with immigration and a burger.
Back home I had never ever had a McDonald’s burger. I lived in a very small village with my great-grandmother and “luxuries” like McDonald’s (feel free to laugh) were not readily available. If you wanted something “fancy” to eat (for poor people like us who lived in a house with a metal roof, McDonald’s, an American food, was a luxury), you had to go to the capital AND you needed money—lots of it. We lived 3-ish hours away from CDMX (Mexico City) and we were super broke, so obviously going to McDonald’s for lunch or a midnight snack wasn’t an option.
My great-grandmother was very strict about using the TV in her home, but whenever she was with her congregation preaching (she was a devout Jehovah’s Witness) or sleeping, I would drag one of the two chairs in her one-room home to the wardrobe (where the TV was located) and use a broomstick or fallen tree branch to turn the TV on.
I was pretty good at not getting caught, but on the rare occasions when my great-grandmother got home early or woke up from one of her naps—whew! Only God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angels and Archangels would be powerful enough to stop the scolding that would eventually come my way.
[Interlude: they never interfered on my behalf, but I don’t hold it against them. If they had then I wouldn’t have this weird little story to tell!]
Anyways—on the days when I was able to watch TV and NOT get caught I would sometimes see a commercial advertising the world-famous Happy Meal. Whenever it appeared, my eyes would light up like little jewels and I would inch closer to the wardrobe, tilting my head up to better absorb the wonders inside the little red box that danced and swirled around the TV: a delicious-looking hamburger the size of my hand, fries that were cut to perfection AND a real toy that I could permanently keep and play with!
And then, once upon a time in “unrealistic expectations-land”, disaster struck.
I won't go into the details about my journey to the U.S. (that will be a story for another time), but I will say this: the journey was long and scary. Exciting and confusing. Mildly fascinating (first time on an airplane) and very bizarre (hearing a different language for the first time). There were a lot of firsts and some bittersweet lasts too. Life's funny that way, but like someone trying to take a shit, we gotta keep pushing; no matter how uncomfortable, humiliating or difficult it gets.
When I got to the U.S., one of my dad's friends bought my grandmother and I our first McDonald's burger. It was literally the FIRST meal I had in the U.S.—how fucking American is that?!—and I remember being so excited about eating McDonald's I basically tripped over my own feet as I ran towards what I perceived to be one of the great American pillars of culinary greatness.
When I saw the McDonald's bag, however, I realized it contained only ONE lumpy and semi-squashed burger, some crappy-looking fries and a drink that smelled like piss. I was disappointed because it wasn't a Happy Meal, but I figured it would taste the same. McDonald's was “amazing” and one of my childhood manifestations had finally come true! Slowly, I took the burger out of the wrapper (which felt super heavy, by the way), opened it, grabbed the burger gently (it is very important to me that whoever reads this understands that under no circumstance did I squish or crush the burger in my hands) and chaos ensued.
Mayonnaise plopped everywhere (just imagine a wet fart if you need an auditory “visual”), ruining my shirt, jeans, hair and dignity. I'd eaten burgers in the past, but none had been as disgusting and poorly assembled as this one. I was completely covered in mayonnaise and because it was INCREDIBLY hot in Texas the putrid scent coming from the mayonnaise was unbearable. I began crying hysterically, horrified by the state of my clothes, body and especially hands, which had received most of the gooey impact.
I don’t know why, but something inside of me kind of shut down. I stood there paralyzed, unable to move until my grandmother grabbed the burger from my hand with her fingertips and opened it. EVEN MORE mayonnaise fell on to the wrapper with a disgusting PLOP! and, after repressing a gag, she closed the burger buns with a disgusted look on her face.
She grabbed some napkins from the McDonald’s bag and began scrapping the mayonnaise off the burger, trying her best to convince me to eat it. I think a more responsible grandmother would have tried to clean me up first, but something shut down inside of her too. I’m not making excuses on her behalf, but when something so stupidly unbelievable and dramatic happens (a burger exploding in your five-year-old granddaughter’s face and clothes right before your eyes) your first priority isn’t what it ought to be. She was more concerned with making sure I actually ate than with me being sane enough to eat. Weird, huh?
She used the remaining napkins to take about 30% of the mayonnaise off, but by the time she was finished and it was “ready to eat” the burger was cold, mushy and withered. Neither of us were hungry anymore and I smelled like shit, so my grandmother took some clothes out of a small backpack I was carrying and after a long and exhausting shower we went to bed.
Because of this terrible incident I cannot eat mayonnaise or anything that remotely resembles mayonnaise: ranch dressing, sour cream, heavy cream, whipped cream, certain cheeses, white (melted) gooey-stuff, thick (melted) gooey-esque stuff, etc. I avoid touching (and even seeing) mayonnaise at all costs and if a bottle of that disgusting substance is opened anywhere near me I immediately gag and become nauseous.
Over the years I've tried to get rid of my mayonnaise phobia through various means, but nothing has worked and quite frankly I am more than happy to take this specific phobia to the grave. That shit tastes absolutely disgusting, it looks like the devil's semen and tastes just plain fucking awful. Again, just to bring this specific point home, I would rather get punched in the face and have all of my teeth knocked out than to eat it.
Almost two decades have passed and the fear remains. Sometimes, when nightmares from my childhood stop by at night, this one hits me particularly hard. I can feel the mayonnaise dripping through my fingers and onto my lap, ruining a condiment I once loved so dearly all over again. I wake up screaming (internally cause’ I have roommates) with sweat pouring down my face, unwilling and unable to let go of the horror that occurred that late afternoon.
Will I ever get over this fear of mayonnaise? Probably not. Will I make a conscious attempt to work on it? Hell no. Will this story hopefully make my future nieces and nephews laugh? I really fucking hope so.