Leif Pettersen's Travelogue

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Posted on 9/24/03


Forgive me father for I have sinned. Today I went out into the streets with the full intention of going into a McDonald’s of my own free will to pacify a debilitating hamburger craving that had been dogging me for three days. Other than the aforementioned dreaded Micky D’s, hamburgers did not seem to be in the daily diets of the Spanish or Portuguese. I was unable to find the European equivalent of a burger joint, thus you see my dilemma and only course of action.

In a bizarre twist, for the first time all summer, I could not find a goddamn McDonald’s. God chose to torture me by sending me out on my unspeakable quest in Lisbon, a city that doesn’t yet have a McDonald’s on every third block. The irony was exasperating. I walked for 30 minutes, cursing my weak strength of will while desperately squinting off into the distance in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Golden Arches. Finally, as I was about to drop to my knees and sob uncontrollably in my own wretchedness, a familiar sign across the street caught my eye. “Hard Rock Café.” My nemesis and savior. I carefully looked around. There didn’t appear to be an American anywhere in sight. I casually approached the door, not wanting to draw attention to myself and after taking one last inconspicuous look around, I made my move. As I passed the door, in one swift blur of motion, I quickly spun around through the door and into the safe anonymity of the bar. I kept my head down as I made a b-line for the back corner of the room where I could binge unnoticed, but a pack of 11 teenaged Portuguese girls had claimed that part of the restaurant for their own. I was forced to sit at a raised bar table, right next to the window simultaneously giving me a wide view of the busy street and putting myself on full display to all the passersby. I skootched my chair around the table and sat with my back to the spectators flowing past, who all appeared to be taking long, lingering looks into the restaurant to observe, point and laugh at the brainwashed, dumb-asses eating this horribly unhealthy and over-priced American cuisine, just as I had done so many times in the past. I got my bacon-cheese burger, inhaled it and left without making eye contact with anyone.

I will say 93 “Our fathers” and 187 “Hail Marys,” in addition to running five miles as soon as I finish this paragraph and eating nothing but fruits and vegetables for the next 24 hours. Thy will be done.

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