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.