I’m gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you’ll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you

– “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon

My father and I do not share an affinity for food. By the time I was in high school, it became pretty apparent that he ate almost all his meals for nutritional value alone. This is partly due to health issues and partly because he is the one member of our family who eats like he’s trying to stay thin. He doesn’t eat cheese or beef or most pork products. He shies away from a lot of tomato products and I can recall fewer than five meals at a Mexican restaurant with him present.

Recently he and my mother visited and took us out to dinner at my favorite BBQ place in the area. Much to my utter surprise he ordered the chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes and country gravy. And, furthermore, he totally ate it. This was a far cry from what he typically orders — always chicken, but most often roasted, with something green on the side, and never covered in gravy. Without meaning to sound patronizing, I felt totally proud of him.

But back when I was a little girl, when he ate pretty much anything, when my mother worked every Tuesday night, we instituted a Daddy/Daughter Date that always took place at Burger King. I don’t recall how it is that we came to that decision; perhaps it was the chicken sandwich they offered on their menu (before any other fast food chains realized it was fashionable to offer something beyond beef) or the proximity to our home. Perhaps we just really loved Burger King. In fact, I don’t even remember what I ordered in my kid’s meal — if it was the burger and fries every visit or something chickeny and nuggety. This was back in the day when all-white meat chicken wasn’t very important and I got fries and a soda because pre-packaged fruit and 1% lowfat milk weren’t even on fast food chains’ radars. I imagine at that point in my life, it wasn’t actually the food that mattered because what I ultimately wanted was time with my dad and a really cool plastic toy that was still a choking hazard (ah to be a child of the 80s and 90s). And yes, these two things went hand in hand. I was a kid – I didn’t have funds.

Really, this blog has less to do with Burger King and any old plastic toy I could have procured at any time and more to do with my dad and one very specific plastic toy. It was around the time “Beauty and the Beast” had come out in theaters, in all its low-def, non-3D perfection; when Disney characters still sang songs and the company wasn’t screwing up actual historical events. In our many visits during that time, I’d managed to collect almost all the toys, except Belle, which for a girl is a pretty big deal. This small thing — my not having Belle — began something of a tradition, when my father, who loved me more than I could understand, walked right up to the counter, cash in hand, to buy Belle just for me. In future visits, he’d do the same thing for something else that was just a piece of plastic with moving arms — if I already had it, he bought me something else.

I went through a fairly lengthy period of time when I avoided Burger King because the weird kid I’d attended grade school and middle school with somehow became the manager in his high school years and it was cooler to eat at McDonald’s anyhow. But since graduating college, it’s become one of my more…appreciated fast food chains (I won’t say favorite because, come on, it’s fast food).

I doubt it has anything to do with the food.