One of the questions I get asked as a comedian is, “Is there anything you can’t joke about?”
And although it potentially contradicts the rebellious bad-boy persona I’ve cultivated, I’d like to argue that, yes, there are in fact things you can’t joke about. Sometimes something is so bad that there isn’t a funny side. Just pure, humourless misery.
You see, I’ve never liked mayo. I find the taste overpowering, and because it sticks to the inside of your mouth and stays there for ages, you taste it all day. And there’s always the residue on your lips, making it look like you’ve been drinking semen. It’s fucking disgusting.
One of the worst sites of my childhood was a mayo-covered spoon in the sink. It would knock me sick. I’m from a big family of five brothers and two sisters and my mum would get these big jars of mayo. I can deal with a squeezy bottle, but with the big jars, the mayo would have to be dispensed using a tablespoon. Every time one of my siblings made a sandwich, there’d be this horrible mayo spoon that had been tossed into the sink.
When I was 12, my dog got ran over and you could see blood and guts and parts of its brain leaking out onto the road. I still find the memory of that easier to stomach than a mayo-covered spoon at the bottom of the sink.
So what happened two days ago at the McDonald’s near Birmingham New Street can’t be overstated.
You know me. I’m a hardworking boy. I pay my taxes. I recycle sporadically. I deserve a break, don’t I?
Especially considering I pronounced every word correctly, slowly, and deliberately. I even got them to repeat my order back to me.
“So that's mayo chicken sandwich without the mayo, yeah?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Thank you, Spencer.”
I’d read his nametag. Spencer seemed a nice lad, somewhere in that 18-24 age-range.
The age where he would still be eligible for loads of government schemes. He could probably get financial assistance to become a plumber if he wanted to. So with all that to look forward to, I can’t see that he would do something like this.
Unless me calling him Spencer was part of the reason.
Maybe he doesn’t like working at McDonald’s; maybe in his spare time he makes lofi-beats and would much rather be known for that. At work he wants to be anonymous; it’s just a means to an end for him. So when someone reads his nametag – that he’s forced to wear – it makes him fucking furious.
Or someone in the kitchen had it out for me. They were having a bad day. Their childhood-sweetheart left them, so they decided to ruin someone’s sandwich.
All I know that is that when I bit into it, and that horrible mayo taste infiltrated my mouth again, it took me right back. Right back to being a kid again, right back to being handed the wrong plate from my mum, biting into my brother’s mayo-covered sandwich, right back to the crying and screaming, the rush to get a pint of water to wash it all out.
I was an adult now. An adult in the middle of Birmingham city centre, biting into what he thought was a Mayo Chicken without mayo and being met with the rancid taste of a regular Mayo Chicken. An adult, holding back tears and wishing he’d ordered an Evian to drown this nightmare out.
So in future, when someone asks me if there’s anything that’s off-limits, anything too horrific to laugh at, I will tell them about the events of the 10th May 2021 and what happened to me.
I will then add, almost as a throwaway, that the date in question was also my birthday. My 25th birthday.
They won’t ask again.
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