Funny Business

Fast-food Frankness

I remember seeing them in all the bed-and-breakfast places we stopped in last summer in Maine on our honeymoon. And several retreat houses and homes of friends have them as well. I'm talking about those books that people sign, where they write how nice everything was and what a great time they had.

All the places I'd been in were really as nice as the nice people who signed the books said. But did you ever wonder if people are always honest in those little books? Would they say so if they had a lousy time, or mention that they only came here because the place they wanted to go to was full?

The McDonalds fast-food semi-restaurant on the Ohio Turnpike, just over the border from Pennsylvania, has your answer. Yes, they have a guest book. And believe me, when you've been traveling for several hours straight over the redundantly flat terrain of Ohio, having something so exciting to read is better than a Happy Meal.

Let's face it. People are honest when they're talking to an anonymous corporate chain and they know they will never pass this way again. The first person to write in the book was honest: "This place came at the right time--bladder was giving out."

The strategic location of this particular McDonalds lent itself to a small literary war, with such entries as, "The Browns are puppies--go Steelers!" Most of the other comments on the same topic, had they been uttered on a gridiron, would have led to personal fouls and ejection from the game.

Some of the entries were really creative, like "Sam for President." Then there were the truly shocking signatures. I mean, there it was, right in the book: "Elvis Presley." The address was "Graceland," and Elvis' comment was, "I am alive! Ordered seven Big Macs and 10 large fries."

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