The Ballad of Taylor Swift

The foil didn’t give because she was pinching it between the plastic and her fingers. After a few seconds of grunting effort, she growled at it like she imagined a fierce feminist lioness should at anything that stands in her way- including McDonald’s sauce packets.

With a scowl, she set the Sweet and Sour cup on the table before her, shot a dark look of condemnation at it, mentally sentencing it to its fate: she used the diamond point of one of her rings to sloppy slash through the foil cover and pried it open. Four of her fingers were daubbed with sweet and sour sauce she licked off for her trouble, and she stuffed a nugget heavily into the sauce then fixed it onto the Big Mac.

“Whiskey and ice on Sunset and Vi-iii-ine,” she crooned loudly again. An older lady in line with two small children visibly flinched at the noise and positioned herself defensively between her children and the slender blonde woman in the corner table of the Hollywood McDonald’s.

Taylor repeated her assault on another sauce packet, the diamond in her ring now covered in Barbecue sauce from the second packet. Once more she dunked the nugget in so heavily that the sauce rushed up and spilled over onto the table, and she set the sauced nugget atop the Big Mac, then repeated the process with a Ranch dressing cup and put the third nugget on the burger then replaced the bun over them.

“How long until the VMAs?” Taylor murmured.

She looked to her right with heavy eyelids while blindly trying to manage the Nugget Big Mac from the cardboard box with slow, clumsy fingers. “Brenda!” The staff behind the counter across the restaurant exchanged uneasy looks again, the drunk girl in the corner was shouting again. “Brenda! How long until the VMAs?”

Taylor did her best to get an entire vertical slice of the nugget-big mac monstrosity into her mouth in a single bite while she waited on the invisible Brenda for an answer. The McDonald’s staff had all seen their share of drunks- it was Hollywood after all. Famous drunks? Sure, Zac Quinto had stumbled in once with a posse. One of the managers had served a heavily slurring Jack Nicholson in the drive thru one night after three a.m.

They were all in disbelief though, and were now on their fourth round of checking photos on their phones to confirm, and actually trying to disbelieve what their eyes were seeing. Didn’t she live in the Tribeca in New York? Doesn’t she have her girl power troupe she always travels with? Shouldn’t she be doing press for her latest album?

“Brendaaaaa! VMA countdown dot com, how is that not a thing!” Taylor’s shout drew all their eyes, and once more confirmed the fact that Taylor Swift was at their McDonald’s, eating a Big Mac she’d filled with nuggets, and- she reminded them with a wide swing of her long arm to snatch the paper bag wrapped bottle by the neck- chugging whiskey like a college freshman who’d never heard of a hangover or alcohol poisoning.

“Damn it Brah-nda,” Taylor groused through a mouthful of meat and diced lettuce, “you’re shu-pothed to KNOW!” She plopped the burger back into its cardboard box and grabbed another nugget that she jammed into the ranch cup, spilling more of it onto the table.

Jabbing the nugget deliberately in the air at the invisible Brenda, Taylor continued her mandates, “Brenda! Figure out the number and post it to my tumblr!” Taylor shoved the thickly sauced nugget into her mouth chewed it once, “Caligraphy style, real curvy ‘n’ shit, you know how I do,” she chewed the nugget and swallowed it with visible effort, “you know the Tay Sway Way!”

Taylor reached across the table while one of the staff quietly informed the mother that her kids’ happy meals were ready. The mother ignored the clerk, and the clerk didn’t try again to get her attention. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on the pop star who had taken the top off a large chocolate shake and was swallowing huge gulps of the blended cream.

When Taylor lowered the cup, she was panting for air from the effort of inhaling half the shake in a single go, and wincing from what everyone assumed was a hell of a brain freeze. Taylor grabbed her brown paper wrapped whiskey bottle and poured a generous amount of the liquor into the cup and clumsily tried to replace the lid.

She couldn’t lock the lid properly on and tried swirling it while mashing it down with her palm, then thought better of it and removed the lid once more. She began to stir the whiskey into the shake with a pair of long slitherine fingers while she barked further instructions. “Just the number Brenda, God, if we make it obvious we’re counting down to the VMAs it’ll look like we’re trying too hard and I don’t try too hard. I’m natural Brenda. I’m the flipping girl next door. I’m the dorky girl who gets the guy by being HERSELF. Girl power Brenda, don’t forget that.”

Taylor removed her fingers, dripping with the brown cream and shoved them both in her mouth to suck them clean then followed with a generous drink of the spiked milkshake. “Brenda, I need to get to work on my VMA song, I need to have something that is truly hashtag fire for he who shall not be named,” with another sauce doused nugget in one hand, Taylor slammed her other hand on the table and the mother jumped, snapped from her fixation finally and noticed the Happy meals.

While the mother furtively waved her kids out the door, completely abandoning her plans to sit and eat in the restaurant with the children, Taylor persevered, “I did that song with Kendrick. Kendrick Lamar?” Taylor emphasized to Brenda, who the staff were finally surmising was a bit of an idiot for an imaginary assistant, if only to make Taylor the smarter of the two.

Taylor swallowed the nugget and then struggled against the crumbling burger to clamp it together in her hands and pick it up again. One of the nuggets tumbled out of the Big Mac and landed on the floor, but no one cared. They were fixated as she now shook the burger in the direction of Brenda, diced lettuce flying about and even getting caught in Taylor’s wavy blonde locks.

One of the clerks, a high school graduate named Luis starting college next year asked himself what this feeling was. Inwardly, he came to know it was awe. Taylor was magnificent, magic, all the things her truest fans had ever espoused. This drunken white woman had created life through sheer force of brazen drunken will. Brenda was as real as any of them. As real as any of the other patrons who had shifted away to keep at least two tables between them and Tay Sway’s drunken rant.

Luis was gripping the cash register so tightly that his fingers were cramping painfully now. He knew why: in this moment, in this space, Brenda was realer than any of them. Such was Taylor’s power.

“I could rap Brenda.” Taylor asserted through another mouthful of burger. “I. Could. Rap.” Taylor punctuated each word with a heavy swing of the burger in Brenda’s direction. How could Brenda possibly argue with Taylor’s genre spanning talents? More lettuce flew helter skelter at Taylor’s offense. Taylor pelted the burger down again. A half eaten tomato slice found its way from the burger and landed with a light slap onto the tiled floor.

“Beyonce will be there Brenda, it’ll be perf, totally perf.” Taylor grimaced again in disgust. “I can’t say totes Brenda. It’s so 2015. You know what Brenda? I’m rapping just because you say I can’t.”

Taylor held her hand out, palm down as if scratching a small record turntable that was positioned at eye level while fixated on the sweet and sour covered nugget in her other hand, “Swet n sour gives me dat girl power,” not a person in the restaurant dared cringe, though they all wanted to. “BBQ makes the boys look atchu, Ranch…” Taylor paused, and froze completely. She flushed red and shoved the nugget into her mouth and reached from the turntable to her spiked shake for another drink she poured right over the nugget she was chewing.

Gasping again from the heavy drink, Taylor scowled. “Ranch, ranch make you dance? Is that the basic bullshit you think I’m capable of Brenda? Give that shit to Katy, God Brenda, you bitch.”

Taylor suddenly slumped and put the ball of her hand against her forehead. The clerks exchanged looks. Were they going to have to help get a passed out Taylor Swift out of the restaurant? If she was passing out finally, it was like watching a shooting star in slow motion they all thought.

“Why do you make me do this to you Brenda? I’m a feminist, and I love all women, but you need to get your shit together and be an ally to me so I can be an ally to you.” With a heavy breath to collect herself, Taylor scooped the burger up again, but it had fallen apart so much from Taylor’s handling that its buns were askew and most of the dressings had fallen out except for the patties and the cheese.

“God Brenda, stop putting me on the level of those basic ass pop stars like Katy and Carly Rae Jetson. They’re just fads. I’m a movement, but I’m totes naturale about it. Natural-ay Tay Sway.” Her eyes bulged while she took a bite of the burger’s remnants and threw it down again. “Oh my God, Brenda!” Taylor stood up suddenly from the bolt of inspiration like a startled blonde ostrich.

“Call Macy’s right now, that’s my next fragrance! Naturale Tay Sway, trademark it, copyright it, patent it,” Taylor wove around the table and started slinking toward the door. The other customers all leaned like trees in a gale from the eye of the now moving storm that was Taylor Swift. She she reached the door, she stopped and looked back over her shoulder at Brenda in horror. “How dare you suggest cross checking with Target! We cut ties after they put my pencil cases on clearance. They get Carly Rae Jetson, that’s what they deserve.”

As she leaned into the door to exit the restaurant, the clerks and patrons all her her shouting at Brenda, “gram it Brenda, Gram it now. Just to my insta stories though: Naturale Tay Sway. Let’s see what that Yeezy fuck makes of this.”

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