Monday, June 4, 2007

12 Double Cheeseburgers

McDonald's double cheeseburgerOne day after school during my junior year of high school I saw my friend Iceman in the parking lot, ready to go home. I was headed to McDonald’s for a midday snack and asked if he wanted to join me.

"What, do you go like every day or something?” Iceman asked.

"Yeah, pretty much.”

“Alright, let’s go.”

Iceman once told me he could eat 12 McDonald’s double cheeseburgers in an hour. I didn’t believe him and offered to make a bet. “I’ll buy your double cheeseburgers and give you $10 if you win, but if you lose you have to pay me back for the burgers.”

“What else do you get if I lose?”

“Nothing. Watching you suffer through 12 double cheeseburgers will be entertaining enough.”

At McDonald’s that late afternoon something extremely rare happened—something even rarer than the anticipated rapid-fire consumption of two dozen hamburger patties: I actually talked about cancer in a non-joking, “real” way. I told Iceman what it was like being in and out of school. I told him about my treatment progress. And most of all we talked about my upcoming surgery, which was only a month away.

Iceman knew where I was coming from, not because he himself had cancer, but because his dad did. His dad’s cancer was much tougher to treat because it had spread, and his treatment plan involved insane amounts of radiation that ravaged the skin and muscles. I never met the guy, but I know for certain he was a badass motherfucker; he rarely missed work even through those ridiculous treatments.

After my surgery I had new visitors all the time. One day my teacher, Mr. Spunkmeyer, paid me a visit. He brought get well cards that he made all his students write for me. My favorite was from Iceman.

Sup lil’ Benjy. It’s Iceman. I miss seeing ya around school all the time. I’m so happy that everything worked out good for ya. I hear you got a tight ass entertainment center. I’m a steal it. Remember when you and me went to McDonald’s after school, and you told me all about what’s happening with you, and I told you about my dad? Well, I never told you, but my dad’s surgery went perfect. I was so happy after that, and I’m just as happy now. I’m glad that you’re OK, and I hope to see you soon. I love ya buddy.

Two years later, and just two days before leaving Northern Virginia for my bone marrow transplant, I again hung out with Iceman. He and another friend came from college for the day just to see me. While out to lunch, Iceman gave me an update on his dad. His cancer had come back in a catastrophic manner. It had grown to massive sizes and was found in several of his organs, even wrapping itself around one. I got the sense that Iceman and his family knew what the end result would be.

And his dad still went to work.

In December that year I called Iceman to see if he wanted to catch a flick. But not this time—he was at the hospital because his dad was going to die any day.

He died on my birthday, December 30, 2003. My immune system was fucked up so I couldn’t even go to his funeral.

I don’t see Iceman much anymore. I only hope that one day we can settle that bet.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog!