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CHEESE IS TWO

All my life, my father has been extraordinarily hard on teenage fast food employees. He has always been relentless in his interrogations, complaints and insistence that small McOversights be corrected and apologized for. For a long time I was embarrassed at his behaviour. While he would harp at the spotty faced burger flippers, I would contract my head turtle style into my coat and try to wish the ugly scene out of existence. However, over the years I have become aware that my father is not a surly, nit-picking curmudgeon as I had erroneously suspected, but a brave and daring freedom fighter against a draconian conspiracy so dangerous and far reaching that its claws stretch silently across the world, battled only by a small resistance movement. Of their secret number, I am proud to say, my Father is one!

My intrepid Father will not speak openly of his work. I surmise he fears reprisals against his family if the enemy learns we know too much. More over, my Father has never admitted the movement's existence, dismissing my inquiries with feigned confusion, and a dismissive, "Huh?" However, several key incidents through my life lead me to conclude that a secret war is being waged on this planet between a large tyrannic fast food corporation and a small rebel force.

One of my earliest memories is of a dinner outing with my Father. My sister was not yet born and my mother was otherwise engaged. (It is worth mentioning that my mother is never present when my father crusade against this vile machination. I believe that my father is trying to slowly initiate me into the susurrus task force.) We went to the Red Barn, a fast food franchise that is now defunct. I ordered a hamburger and a small fry. The fast-food clerk was female, with tousled red hair sprouting from under her paper, envelope shaped hat. Back at our table, I discovered that my seeming hamburger was, in fact, a cheeseburger. I am allergic to cheese, and seething with white rage, I complained to my father about the clerk's mistake. My father replied, "Just scrape it off." After feverish protest against this injustice, I complied. My father watched me scour off the processed yellow, and choke back the mauled burger. He had a funny look in his eye, a look of sadness mingled with the budding strength of a man who will no longer bear the onerous yoke of oppression.

By the time my sister was born into this world, McDonalds had become the restaurant of choice. Though now a vegetarian, my sister used to eat meat under certain very specific conditions: That she be served a cheese burger, without any condiments or garnish, and she receive McDonald Land Cookies immediately after disposing of said burger. The chore of ordering a plain cheeseburger inevitably fell upon my father's hale shoulders. It was never an easy task.

He would ask for a plain cheeseburger. The clerk would always reply, "You mean a hamburger?" "No," my father would say. "A plain cheeseburger." The clerk would always answer, "You mean just a bun and cheese?" "No," my Warrior Dad would insist. "A plain cheeseburger. No ketchup. No mustard. No Onions. No pickle." The clerk would usually stare in silence until my father added, "With a bun. And a patty. And cheese." The clerk would then explain that it would take a few moments. An hour later, when my family was near dead of starvation, our ice cold order would arrive complete with one steaming, freshly grilled plain cheese burger, which my sister would then throw under the table when no one was looking, in order to move with greater alacrity on to her McDonald Land Cookies.

Three years ago, I accompanied my father to Pizza Pizza to land dinner for the family. (As usual, my mother had other plans for the evening.) We did wield a coupon which pledged us two free toppings. My father ordered a double cheese pizza, with green peppers. The slender, pimply faced blonde clerk informed us that we would have to pay for two toppings. My father waved the coupon, reminding the clerk that we were entitled two toppings gratis. The clerk, not to be thrown, shot back, "I'm sorry, Sir. Cheese is two." "That's fine," said my father. "We get two free toppings. That's the cheese. And we'll pay for one. That's the green pepper." "I'm sorry, sir." said the clerk. "Cheese is two. You'll have to pay for two toppings. Cheese is two." My brave father and the clerk went at it head to head for some time. The verbal abuse got very ugly, until the long line of screaming patrons chased my father and I out of the restaurant, unaware that a rebellion was being waged on their behalf. At the time, I couldn't blame the rabble for their ire. I am wiser now. The ignorant fools knew not what they did!

A month ago, my father and I entered a newly erected Burger King. I ordered a double burger. The dark haired, pimply young clerk rang in a double cheese burger hold the cheese. I pointed this out to my father, who called the young man's attention to this oddity. The nervous clerk explained that it was not a mistake. This particular Burger King did not serve Double Hamburgers, only double cheeseburgers, and if I wanted a double hamburger I would have to order a double cheeseburger hold the cheese, meaning I would have to pay for the cheese - that being an integral ingredient in a double cheeseburger, which I was, in fact ordering, albeit without the cheese.

My father would not let this go. He asked to speak to the manager. The pimply young clerk explained that he was the manager, although a mysterious older man lurked in the shadows of the deep frier, eyeing the proceedings with a sinister aspect. My father said that if we were not getting cheese we shouldn't have to pay for it. He used the light up menu above the clerks head as evidence, proving the other items, offered both with or without cheese, were less expensive without. It quickly became clear that cheese had no fixed value on the menu. A single burger was $1.79. A single cheese burger was fourteen cents more. Yet there was a 29 cent difference between a Whopper and a Whopper with cheese. Similar incongruities dotted the menu, throwing serious obstacles in my bold fathers argument that cheese had a tangible cost that should be removed when a double cheese burger, hold the cheese, is purchased. The carbuncle faced manager grew flustered, and claimed that the computers could not be programmed to ring in a double hamburger without cheese and that was that. My father, having scored a moral victory, took down a complaint number from the wall, promised to take his grievance all the way to the Burger King himself is necessary. We sat down and began our meal.

Over my father's shoulder I watch the spotty manager sheepishly approach the shadowy man by the deep fryer. They exchanged a few terse words. The shadowy man was obviously reprimanding the pocked young man. The manager, his upbraiding complete, approached our table, apologized for the situation and handed my father thirty two cents. My father, gracious in victory, thanked his defeated foe, and our dinner was consumed without further incident, save one small thing. I now realized for the first time in my life, what had been under my nose for so long: My Father fought a conspiracy of cheese, not for himself, but for me, and you, and those that will follow us, and I for one do hereby solemnly vow to take up arms along side my august father!

The truth is out there.

Trust no one.

Cheese is two.