Friday, August 24, 2012

The Soda Fountain of Youth

For Annie
Few people achieve immortality.  It’s just not an easy thing to do.  You can spend years formulating the right elixir or time machine and even then, things don’t always work out.  My Uncle Ted ended up with half his face from the 1930s.  And, my second cousin, let’s not even talk about him.  We tell the neighbors he’s a golden statue we bought off Craigslist.  Alchemy was not Remy’s friend.  That’s why I steered clear of all things mystical, science fiction and remotely magic.  For about twenty years, it worked out fine.
Things took a horrible turn in the wrong direction a little after my 19th birthday.  I was eating at McDonald’s with some friends.  It sounds innocent enough, right?  We talked over our jobs, the women in our life, where things were headed.  But our sodas were getting low.  I offered to refill them, being the nice guy I was.
The girl behind the counter said the fountain was acting up.  I told her I was pretty good at fixing things and said I could help out.  She told me to go for it.
Naturally, I had no idea what I was doing.  She was cute and I wanted to impress her.  Girls love a guy who fixes things.  “The rotary compressor in the ice dispenser must be on the fritz,” I stated knowledgably.  It sounded smart enough.
I took off the cap to have a look.  It was even more confusing than I initially thought.  Who designed these things?  I didn’t waste time thinking.  I threw a few syrup bags around and tied a hose or two together.
“Done!” I said smirking at the check-out girl.  She smiled back.
I filled up the drinks and went back to my chair feeling good about myself.  My friends reached for them thirstily, having devoured their fries while I was gone.
“So…” my friend Jake said.  “I saw you talking with that girl.”
“Oh, yeah,” I replied.  “I think I might get her number.  Or at least an add on Facebook.”
“I’d bank on the second,” my other friend Vince said.  We shared a laugh but it didn’t last long.  Jake’s hand started bubbling.
“What the hell did you put in my drink?” he shouted.
“I didn’t put anything in.  I just fixed the fountain and…”
I feared for the worst.  We had all been sipping our drinks.  Why did I have to mess with the soda fountain?  My ancestry had finally come back to haunt me.
The bubbling subsided but it was the least of our worries.  Jake’s whole hand was soon half its original size.  His teeth were shrinking too.  Soon, he didn’t even fit inside his clothes.  In fact, he was a small lump crawling around in them.
“Everyone quit drinking their sodas,” I told the others.  “I’ve created the fountain of youth.”
Normally, there would be some skepticism but they did as they were told.  I went to pick up baby Jake and headed back to the soda fountain.
“Did anyone else drink from this?” I asked the girl behind the counter.
“Yeah, an older woman and her husband, why?”
“No reason,” I said.  They would be fine.  In the meantime, I had to take care of the fountain as crazy as it would make me look.  Next to a bench outside there was a model of Ronald McDonald.  I set the baby on the bench and heaved up the model, knowing what I had to do.  I walked back inside and on the count of three I lugged it into the machine.  Soda sprayed everywhere, but I was sure its immortal properties were broken.
Phones started dialing for the police as I casually walked back to my table with what were now my nine year old friends.  I looked down at my own hands.  They were starting to bubble.  The police would see a table of nine year olds but not anyone who could have broken the soda fountain.  I guess take that as a small consolation.  At least my face didn’t end up in two different decades.


  1. McDonald's--eating there and longing to eat there--is such a strong memory from my youth. It's the perfect setting for a chrono-pop machine.

    1. Haha "chrono-pop machine." I've long admired your word use, Jack :-)

  2. I have to join tha party'll be up tonight

  3. :) Oh my! My favorite part...

    things don’t always work out. My Uncle Ted ended up with half his face from the 1930s.

    Sooooo nicely done Quirky Ben Ditty! (QBC for short. Didn't you just always want to be an acronym?)

    1. I love it. Though people might think it means Quebec ;-)

    2. My friend Quebec, I have the perfect companion for this...but have to figure out how to put it together

  4. this really was fun to read! i love how your mind works ben.

    1. Thanks, just a girl! I'm liking yours too! :-)

  5. You're a hoot, Ben. Annie and I are secretly fighting over you. Tee-hee... ;-) I worked at 12 different McDonald's in my youth because we moved all the time. Every damned machine they had was a MFer. It used to take me an hour to clean and put together the shake machine. Of course, this was back in the 70's and 80's. They're probably more streamlined now....I hope. LOL! Great story!! xo

    1. Oh, I don't know, Marion, they probably go pretty cheap replacing those machines ;-)

  6. 'Popped' over via link at Wander Without Being Lost. Unfortunately, I'm still the same age as when I started reading. I even sat here staring at the cursor a few extra minutes - you know - just in case. No transference, huh? Welp...guess I'll make it to another birthday next week.


You've found your way inside my head and now there's no way out!