The McDonald's Playland Birthday

Girls… when it comes to you, guys are clueless. We try our best to send out signals but rarely get your attention; and worse, we often offend or insult you in the process. We don’t understand subtext, and often say the wrong thing. And god forbid you actually like us, we are completely clueless at figuring this fact out. When it comes to your signals, we have no idea what the hell is going. We have no idea how to interpret your subtle signs of interest, if we’re even cognizant enough to realize that you’re sending them.

At least, that’s how it was for me.

Near the end of high school, a new girl started to hang around our group. She was the type of girl who would wear black tattered t-shirts with pink skulls and bones across her perky, petite cleavage. She would make off-color jokes and quote the Simpsons. She wore oversized headphones slung around her neck, would paint her nails black, and would dye blonde streaks through her jet black hair.

She was cool, and nothing like the traditional stereotype of what a girl should be—and it made her attractive. She was attractive, and fun, and easy going and she liked me. Needless to say, not only did I have no idea, but I inadvertently rejected her several times.

Once, a group of us snuck in to see an R-rated movie. I got stuck on the end, sitting next to the girl who liked me. I remember remarking that I hated being on the end. When she asked me why, I sarcastically joked that it meant the only person I could make snooty comments to during the movie was her. She laughed and punched my arm.

Later I would find out that this was the moment she first noticed me. At the time however, I didn’t notice her; I just thought she punched really hard.

As the movie progressed I realized that she was resting her head on my shoulder. Were I more experienced, I would’ve seized the opportunity and progressed the situation. But instead I noticed the immature grins of my friends at her attraction, and my gut reaction was to push her off me and pretend to be indifferent.

Another time, I showed up to a party, sans alcohol, as my connection had fallen through. In high school, the scarcity of alcohol sometimes makes people pretty selfish, and although my friends were willing to offer me a drink or two, no one was willing to spare enough for me to actually get drunk and have a fun time. This is where she comes in.

When the girl who liked me realized I was drink-less, she immediately ran to the kitchen to mix me a drink. Although I thought it nice at the time, I didn’t realize that she would continue to give me drinks, dwindling her own reserves in the process.

She told me later that this is when she started to like me.

When I tried to give her money for drinking all her booze, she coyly smiled and told me that there were other ways I could pay. My reply was: “No, I insist. Here!” as I shoved $20 into her hands and then promptly left to talk to my friends.

A week or so later, we were all hanging out in a friend’s basement, arguing over, among other things, who the coolest Ninja Turtle was. At one point, the girl who liked me pulled me aside and read my palm. After some fake fortune telling and joking around, which ended in her drawing the outline of a dick on my hand, she complained that I never called her. When I shrugged that I didn’t have her number, she reached into my jeans and took my cell phone from my pocket, without even asking, and entered her number.

She asked me later if I realized that she liked me at this point. But the truth is that I didn’t. If I had, I probably would’ve called her. Instead, I was a clueless teenage boy, wondering when a girl would actually show the slightest bit of interest in me, and chasing others in the meantime. I wasn’t smart or savvy enough to figure out that there was a girl who already liked me, and so her number sat in my phone and did nothing.

She was a punk, with a questionable reputation, yet she was fun. She was funny, she boisterous, and she was the first girl that liked me—at least, the first one that liked me before I liked her.

Her name was Kelly, and this is the story of her liking me. It is the story of me finally realizing it, and getting coaxed into acting. This is the story of my birthday at McDonalds. And this is the story of Kelly cheating on her boyfriend. Oh yeah, I guess I didn’t mention it yet, but the other thing about Kelly is that the entire time she liked me, she had a boyfriend—and it wasn’t me.


We arrive at the McDonalds that night all carrying water bottles. Let’s be clear from the start, there is no water in these bottles. One of the nice things about McDonalds is that they offer free refills. When you’re a kid, this means unlimited soda, and when you’re a teenager, this means unlimited mix.

In case you’ve never noticed, teenagers hanging out in McDonalds are usually there for one of two reasons—the cheap fatty food or to drink covertly. We were there for both. It was my birthday after all.

The McDonalds is nearly abandoned. It’s late, and it’s a weekday. We stake out two booths directly across from each other in a secluded corner and all dump our jackets and our booze on the seats.

As we wait in line Kelly gives me a playful shove and tells me that she hasn’t wished me happy birthday yet.

“Technically,” I say, “that isn’t really wishing me happy birthday.”

“Oh I know,” she smirks. “I just wanted us to both be clear on the fact that I haven’t done so yet.”

I let out a small laugh. She smiles and asks if she can buy me dinner.

“Sure,” I say. It’s a nice gesture, compounded exponentially by the abject poverty of high school. Kelly is a nice girl.


A few minutes later I’m in the washroom, pissing in a urinal while everyone finishes ordering the food, when Sam comes in. He doesn’t walk to the urinals or the stalls. Instead, he walks directly to the sink and begins to wash his hands.

“So uh, just came in to wash your hands there?” I ask.

“Kelly likes you,” he says, ignoring my question.


“Kelly,” he repeats. “She likes you.”

“How do you know?” I say as I finish up with the urinal and zip myself up.

“Look,” Sam says calmly. “How many girls have I been with?”

“Uh…” I stutter. I couldn’t even count them.

“That’s right,” he nods. “And how many have you been with?”

“Uh…” I stutter. What’s a believable fake number…?

“Exactly,” he says. “Trust me when I say that she likes you.”

“Kelly has a boyfriend,” I remind him.

“Well, she sends you signals all the time,” Sam says.

“Like what?” I ask.

“She offered to buy you dinner.”

“Is this why you’re in here washing your hands?” I ask. “Just for an excuse to tell me that Kelly likes me.”

Sam smirks. “A soldier and a marine are taking a piss. The soldier finishes first and starts to wash his hands. The marine finishes a few moments later and heads straight for the door. As he does, the soldier scoffs at him: ‘You know, in the army they teach us to wash our hands after we piss.’ The marine pauses, turns towards to the soldier, and says, ‘Oh yeah? Well in the marines they teach us not to piss all over our hands.’”

I am waiting for the part where this makes sense, but Sam just continues to wash his hands in silence.

“Uh,” I say. “What does that have to do with anything? So you’re saying you pissed all over yourself earlier? Is that what you’re telling me?”

“No you heathen,” Sam shakes his head as he dries his hands with paper towel. “I just like that joke. I’m about to eat. Don’t you wash your hands before you eat?”

I roll my eyes.

As Sam exits the washroom he holds up his hand, pointing out one finger, and says, “One.”

“One what?” I ask.

“I’m counting the number of signals Kelly gives you tonight. So far we’re at one.”

“It doesn’t count!” I call out to him, “It was just a friendly gesture on my birthday!” But Sam is already gone. “And she has a boyfriend!”


When I was a little kid, I was super shy, especially around girls. I never knew what to say or do around them, especially if I liked them. I used to fantasize about being able to read people’s minds. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know exactly which girls like you? Getting a girlfriend would be so easy if only you knew.

It’s funny, because as it turns out, knowing that someone likes you doesn’t actually help you at all in getting them. Sure you’d know that they like you, but it wouldn’t help you in the slightest of knowing what to say or do around them to keep from being awkward.

Maybe I should’ve been fantasizing about having game instead of telepathy.

We’re all sitting back in our booths now with our spiked drinks and our deep fried foods. Andrew is busy explaining to us why the kid who got the heart ring in Captain Planet got screwed, and how his is the only power that couldn’t lethally harm a villain.

Earth, fire, wind, water… they could all kill. But heart…? Hug me!

Scotty brings up the idea that the kid and his ring would however be an unstoppable force with the ladies.

“I bet he got laid all the time,” Scotty adds.

I take another big gulp of my “coke” and my head spins a bit. It’s been about half an hour, and we’ve all been drinking pretty heavily.

“You OK?” Kelly asks me.

I nod, “It’s strong.”

Without hesitating, Kelly grabs my drink and tries it for herself. “Wow!” she exclaims.

“Too strong?” I ask.

She shakes her head, and although still grimacing, she takes another big gulp.

“Whoa, easy there,” I joke.

“Hey,” she smirks. “Technically I paid for it.”

“Not the booze,” I retort.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch Sam staring at the two of us with a cocky grin. He reaches out his hand and holds up one finger. He then, ever so slowly, raises another finger and mouths “Two” at me.

After another round of drinks and more hearty debate about superheroes and childhood cartoons, we find ourselves playing a few rounds of Asshole. Naturally, since it is my birthday, fate somehow deals me the worst cards in the history of mankind, and I find myself the Asshole over and over again.

Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, and the jokes at my expense continue to fly.

After three hands of being last, I pick up a freshly dealt hand and am beside myself.

“Really?! Really?!” I exclaim to myself.

“Awww, what’s the matter there Asshole?” Kelly asks sarcastically.

“These cards are unbelievable,” I say.

Kelly laughs.

“Seriously,” I say. “My highest card is a Ten!”

She laughs some more.

I just sigh. “Who’s the President?”

Kelly leans forward and gives me a quick kiss on the cheek.

“What was that for?” I ask.

She shrugs. “Consolation prize. We do want you to have a happy birthday and all. Even if you suck at cards.”

“Technically,” I say, “that wasn’t wishing me a happy birthday either.”

She smiles.

A few seats over, Sam is smiling too. He holds up his hand again, this time showing three fingers as he mouths “Three”.


Just because you know that a girl likes you, doesn’t mean you know any better what to do or say. And what’s worse, if you find out that a girl does like you, a lot of the times it’s hard to not start treating her different. And when you start acting awkward around her, she may stop liking you.

The truth is that getting a girl has a lot less to do with what she’s thinking and a lot more to do with how you act. That’s why a psychic could never outdo a player. Because game is game and a real player has the moves to make it with anyone, regardless of what they’re thinking at the start.

Sam is a player.

After two more drinks and two more “signals”, according to Sam, I finally break down and admit that Sam might actually be right. Maybe Kelly does like me? The question I’m now faced with is what the hell do I do about it?!

“Make a move,” Sam shrugs.

“What the hell do you mean make a move?” I ask. “You mean like kiss her?”

“Sure,” Sam says.

We’re both in the washroom again.

“Well how do I do that?” I ask. “Like should I just walk over and kiss her right now?”

“What?! No!” Sam exclaims.

“God, what the hell am I doing? She has a boyfriend…”

Sam laughs and puts his hands on my shoulders. “OK relax. First off, forget about that guy. He’s an asshole and a loser. You’re a huge step up compared to him. Second, you just need to get her alone.”


He nods. “Then,” he continues. “Stare at her?”

“Stare at her?”

“There are three ways to kiss who likes you: You stare, you lean, or you sigh.” He turns me around and stares at me. “If you stare at her, all you need to do is wait for her to stare back. Once your eyes meet and lock, she’ll eventually stop talking, and that’s your sign. You go in then, do not wait.”

“OK but…”

“Or, you can just lean in,” he says as he leans in towards me.

I instinctively jump back.

“Why did you lean back?” he asks.

“Because you were about to kiss me!” I exclaim.

He smirks, “Exactly. It’s completely unambiguous.”

“What if she pulls back like that?”

“Third,” he says, ignoring my question, “You can always simply let out a loud sigh.” He lets out a sigh. “You sigh, she looks over at you, you look at her, and bingo, you kiss her.”

“This is really scary…” I say. My heart is already racing. I take a deep breath and try to calm myself down. “OK,” I say. “I think I can do this.”

Sam laughs. “I hope so, because you have to. I can’t fuck her for you buddy. I mean, unless you want me to.”

I roll my eyes. “So how exactly do I get her alone?” I ask.

Sam thinks for a minute.

“Well?!” I ask impatiently.

Sam smiles and gives me a hearty slap on the shoulder: “Let’s go to Playland.”


The McDonald’s Playland stands as two full stories of giant plastic tubes and slides inside the McDonald’s. The tubes are all the colors of the rainbow, with clear plastic domes for peaking out, steps and rope ladders scattered throughout to traverse the maze of human habitrails, and a giant pit of plastic balls to cushion the fall from the upper-most slide.

The McDonald’s Playland is recommended for children eleven and younger.

As we all fumble and fall into the McDonald’s Playland, we’re laughing hysterically. Two of my friends are still trying to kick off their shoes, and Scotty heads straight for the ball pit, where he effectively passes out in the balls.

“How much has he had?” I ask Sam, as Scotty struggles against gravity whilst wading through the colorful plastic orbs.

“I thought he was our D.D. tonight,” Sam shrugs.

Someone comes flying down the slide and slams into Scotty in the ball pit.

“I’m OK!” Scotty is shouting out drunkenly, now buried in balls.

I turn to Sam: “I think we’re busing home tonight.”

We end up spending nearly twenty-five minutes playing in the McDonalds Playland—which is exactly twenty-five minutes longer than we’re supposed to want to play there. But let’s face it, when you’re drunk, everything that was fun when you were a kid is fun again.

Sam’s plan was to get me and Kelly alone, and he does just that. After nearly twenty-five minutes of drunken shenanigans, Sam slowly starts to herd people out of the McDonalds Playland structures. That is, everyone except for me and Kelly.

People start to filter out, and back to the booths. Some people leave for more alcohol. Others leave because they’re tired, dizzy, or drunk—which is all the same thing really. Others leave to use the washroom.

Sam is one of the last to leave, and I notice that when he does, he gives me an all-clear nod.

Kelly and I don’t leave. After twenty-five minutes of playing like children, we’re both sweaty and tired and drunk, and we collapse together in the upper part of the McHabitrail.

As we sit and catch our breaths, Kelly drops her head to my shoulder.

In my head I can hear Sam counting this off as another signal.

“We suck,” I say.

She nods. “When did we get so old?”

“And out of shape…”

She laughs, “Maybe it’s just because we’re drunk.”

“I feel dizzy and I might puke on you… it’s a definite possibility,” I joke.

She laughs and sits up and punches my arm.

I rub my head.

“What’s with your head?” she says.

“I hit it a bunch of times on these stupid low ceilings.”

She laughs and starts to rub my noggin for me.

I know what I’m supposed to do now. I know what needs to be done. We’re alone, we’re drunk, and we like each other. I know I’m supposed to kiss her. I’m supposed to make a move. Yet instead of doing that I just starting thinking this exact monologue in my head. I start to go over it again and again and the more I do the more my heart starts to race and the more I feel like I’m going to chicken out.



The longer we sit there without kissing, the more awkward everything becomes. Eventually she stops rubbing my head and we both just sit there silently for a minute. I suck up the cowardice inside, and realize that I have to try.

My eyes are locked onto her. I stare.

I stare, and stare, and stare.

I have been staring at her ever since she started rubbing my head. Unfortunately, the longer I stare the more awkward this feels.

Why didn’t I just kiss her when she was rubbing my head?! When she started rubbing my head, I looked over at her. She stared back instantly. This was my signal to kiss her. This was my chance!

Unfortunately, instead of kissing her, I froze. I didn’t back the stare up with anything! I just stared!

Eventually, she got a little weirded out, stopped staring back, and stopped rubbing my head, leaving me there to stare at her like a weirdo.

Ah youth… stupid, cowardly youth.

I feel as though I missed the window to kiss her with the stare move. Time to up the ante.

At the present, I am both staring at her and leaned in rather close to her. Don’t ask me why I’m combining Sam’s moves, but I’m no longer thinking straight—something to do with being nervous beyond belief and rather drunk at the same time.

For her part, I can tell I’m weirding Kelly out. She would later tell me that I was leering at her like a brain-dead rapist. Not only is she no longer looking back at me, but she’s actively leaning away.

Things are going from bad to worse… fast!

I decide to invoke Sam’s third and final method for kissing a girl. I let out a loud sigh, in hopes of getting her to turn back towards me. Only, the first sigh doesn’t really work. So I let out another… and another, and well, what I’m doing might best be described not so much as sighing, but as breathing like a pervert on an anonymous sex call.

Finally, Kelly turns to me.

But she doesn’t kiss me. Instead, she has a heavily confused and slightly worried look on her face.

“What the fuck are you doing?” she asks. “Are you going to fucking murder me or something?”

My heart is racing so fast that I literally can’t think of what to say. What comes out, sounds like a retarded cave man trying to pick up: “I… try… kiss…”

Kelly’s look of awkwardness fades and she bursts out laughing. She laughs so hard that she literally falls over.

“That’s your move?!” she says. “That’s your move?! I thought you were having a stroke! You looked like a retarded sex offender!”

My heart sinks. I’ve just fucked it all up. I feel like I just ruined our friendship. I feel like this is the worst, most embarrassing birthday of my life.

Fully ashamed and embarrassed, I realize that I am an idiot. And more than that, it really doesn’t matter if you know who likes you and who doesn’t, if you don’t have game you can’t do shit about it.

She’s laughing so hard she’s almost crying and I feel like a total loser. I turn to leave, just wanting to get out of this whole stupid restaurant and forget this day ever happened when Kelly grabs my arm.

“Hold on, hold on,” she says, laughter fading.

“I’m an idiot,” I say. “I’m sorry. I…“

She interrupts me: “Girls don’t initiate things,” she tells me.

“I know,” I say. “And I was…”

She interrupts me again: “But today is your birthday. This is how you kiss someone you idiot.” And with that, she pulls me close, locks our lips together, and shoves her tongue in my mouth. It is by far the best birthday present I get that year.

As we slowly break apart I smirk, “Technically, that wasn’t wishing me a happy birthday.”

“No,” she agrees. “But it’s a start.”

Whatever embarrassment and humiliation I once felt fades as I soon find myself making out passionately with the girl who likes me—correction, the girl I like.


“I like you!” I exclaim. “You’re really fun and cool and I think I could be a good boyf-“

She shuts me up with another kiss.

I’ve never kissed a girl like this before, and so the whole experience is overwhelming. She slides her tongue in my mouth and I immediately get a boner.

She breaks our embrace and tells me to squeeze her boobs. I didn’t think it was possible for the phrase “this gives me a boner” to make sense if you’ve already got a boner, but it totally makes me harder than I thought possible.

I start to rub and massage her boobs. As if that wasn’t enough, she halts our kissing momentarily to whisper to me that if her shirt is in the way, I can take it off.


Before I know it, her shirt is gone… tossed aside in the Playland tube like some kid’s used Kleenex. Kelly is shirtless and Kelly doesn’t wear a bra.

So there we are, two sex-crazed high schoolers, completely alone and isolated in a habitrail of plastic tubes, both going to town on each other with pure, unwavering lust. We’re making out passionately, clumsily pawing at each other’s bodies, right there, in the McDonald’s Playland.

I hate to say it, but at that moment, I don’t think anyone else has ever had this much fun in this particular Playland as me!

Outside the Playland, my friends are entering round two of the Big Macs. I honestly don’t know how we weren’t all obese in high school. From our weekend diets and calorie intake from McDonalds alone, we should have been technically dead from cholesterol. Nonetheless, as they enjoyed round two of the Big Macs, I was in the middle of my own divine experience.

She pushes me up against the wall and holds my arms back.

“I’ve liked you this whole year!” she exclaims, before quickly returning her lips to mine. We kiss harshly and her tongue explores my mouth.

I break her grasp and wrestle her to the ground. She lets out a shocked but pleasured whimper.

“Since when?!” I ask surprised.

“Since we sat together at the movies… I wanted you to kiss me that night.”

“What?!” I exclaim, shocked.

She laughs and we continue our sloppy make outs.

“God!” she exclaims. “Suck on my tits!”

My whole head is spinning, but I’m eager to oblige her. An hour ago I was petrified of my own actions, being pushed forward reluctantly by Sam, and finding myself frozen by my own irrational fears. Now, here I am, making out with a girl on my birthday in a McDonald’s Playland tube. Excuse me, nibbling at the tit of a girl on my birthday in a McDonald’s Playland tube.

It’s true what they say: nothing ventured, nothing gained. The thought of being afraid to initiate the first kiss with this girl now seems so stupid!

“God yes!” she screams.

My heart is racing, but not because I’m afraid.

She wraps her legs around me and suddenly spins me over. I hit the ground with a thud and she’s now on top.

“What do you like most about me?” she asks me. I’m about to answer when I feel a click on my pants. I look down to see that she’s just undone the button above my zipper.

“Shit!” I gasp.

She grins widely.

“I like your hair,” I tell her, “and your smile.”

She kisses my neck.

“I like your sense of humor, and that I can talk to you like I do my friends.”

“What about my ass?” she asks between kisses.

“Yeah,” I say sarcastically. “That’s OK I guess.”

She laughs. “Anything else?”

I shrug, “I like this.”

With my zipper undone my pants are loose, and she reaches under them to grab my ass.

She starts crawling away from me, yet seductively inviting me to pursue her.

“I like that you’re brave,” I tell her.

She smiles.

“And I like that you like this!” I say as I grab her again and push her up against the wall. I grope at her breasts as I kiss her repeatedly. Her moans and screams are muffled as our lips are locked. She is grabbing at me roughly.

I push her again and she reaches her hand back, to steady herself on the ground but suddenly, Kelly slips.

Instinctively I grab her, but almost fall myself. One hand holding her, and the other a plastic bulkhead, I realize that we’ve ventured into the top of the slide. Sitting at the very edge of the slide, we both realize that we almost fell down.

Kelly is shirtless, and me with my pants half off and a raging erection, it would’ve been quite the fall. In our precarious situation, as we realize how close we came to a rather embarrassing tumble, our eyes catch each other’s, and we both break out laughing.

We laugh and laugh and laugh.

How awkward it would’ve been to have fallen and tumbled down that slide and right into the ball pit; right in front of all our friends and well, everyone.

It would’ve been funny if it happened; and it was when it did.


A voice suddenly pierces the air: “KELLY!”

I am startled, and my head jerks back. It hits the top of the slide and I instinctively throw it forward, head butting Kelly in the mouth. My hands release their grip, and attempt to coddle my face. Kelly, poised on the edge of the slide, no longer being held by me and with her own bruised face, begins her descent. In her panic she reaches out for anything to stop her fall. She grabs my hair just long enough to jerk me forward. I lose my balance, and down I go with her.

As we spin and spiral down the dastardly yellow tube, I frantically struggle and grasp, trying to stop my fall. I only end up working my pants down to my knees.

I land in the ball pit with a sudden boom. Balls hurdle around me and I’m quickly buried in a rainbow of hollow plastic orbs.

My entire world is spinning from a combination of sexual excitement, alcohol, fear induced by watching the first girl I’ve really made out with fly down a children’s slide topless, and fear induced by my own desperate fall down that same hole.

I jump to my feet, trying my best not to let my pants fall off as I do. I yank on my pants, trying to pull them up, but immediately I lose my balance and fall back into the ball pit. I struggle with my pants in the balls momentarily, but quickly realize that several balls have found their way into my pants. I stand again, more carefully this time, focusing still on only the pants. I begin to pull red and blue and yellow balls from my pants and toss them aside when I get an urge to look up.

Kelly hasn’t said a thing since she fell in the ball pit—no one has. The entire restaurant has been completely silent.

My world suddenly expands from consisting of only the contents of my pants to include the surroundings too. As blurry images slowly come into focus on my retina my heart suddenly drops, and well, so do my pants, as I release them in shock.

Standing around the playpen are half a dozen employees. They’re holding up mops and trays and one girl is wearing a drive-thru headset. They’re standing there staring at me and Kelly—who is on her knees, staring back, hands over her naked breasts, motionless, like a topless deer caught in voyeuristic headlights.

You see, in my inebriated state, I forgot one very important fact about McDonald’s Playlands… they echo. They’re not sound proof, in any sense of the word. And Kelly and I weren’t exactly discrete.

In my mind I start to wonder when the employees started to gather. Was it when Kelly shouted out for me to suck on her tits, or did they catch on from the moaning and groaning well before then?

Beside the employees are all of my friends; they too, with shocked looks and subtle grins on their face, frozen in the moment. All of course, except for Sam. His eyes are wide and a giant grin is smeared across his face. He is slowly chewing his Big Mac, as he holds the last few bites of his sandwich in his hand. He is nodding supportively, and after a solemn nod he lifts his nearly finished sandwich up and salutes me in a congratulatory manner.

No words need to be spoken. He has never been more proud of me in his life.

Kelly slowly crawls behind me, hiding her naked torso from everyone’s view—including that of her boyfriend, who is standing there, furiously staring us both down. It was he that screamed her name, it was he that made us fall, and it was he that would kick my ass a week later, when none of my friends were around to protect me. But until that happened, happy birthday indeed in the McDonald’s Playland.

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