March 14, 2007, 3PM: Mildred, the maid leads me onto a sandstone patio, and I have to stop and take in the marvelous view of the San Francisco Bay. Immediately, I know that this is a place for the rich and famous, appropriate for a king or queen perhaps, and certainly fitting for a fast food icon.
“It’s a fucking nightmare, that’s what it is.” he says as if it were a matter of fact, shifting heavily in his lawn chair. “Those bastards, the things they do…” His voice unexpectedly trails off. “Sorry,” he looks vacantly at the shimmer bouncing off his swimming pool “My ex-wife always said I swore too much. It’s just horrible, that’s all. Just horrible.”
You wouldn’t think that someone like Grimace could show this much body language, but you would be wrong. He is obviously hurting, he is obviously angry, and sadly, he is obviously purple.
“You know I was one of the first GMOs ever.” he explains, “Cloning as science fiction was all the rage back then, with books like the ‘Boys of Brazil,’ and ‘In His Image’ hitting the lists. The public never knew what hit them. I never knew what hit them.”
And I suppose therein lies his pain. Like an orphan looking for answers, he is haunted only by what he doesn’t know. Namely, what exactly ‘he’ is. Grimace is a prime example of what is both wonderfully right and terribly wrong about genetic manipulation. Due to the marvels of this technology, he has luxury, wealth, fame, as many women as he desires, and yet he has no identity, no origin. If ever there were such a thing, he is an organic black box.
Officially however, from the mouth of corporate MacDonald’s if you will, Grimace started off as “Evil Grimace” who with four deft arms went around stealing milkshakes from children. Then in 1974, a change of heart and a loss of two arms lead to his current incarnation – a warm, fuzzy, and apparently living representation of the “embodiment of childhood.”
To which he replies, “My friend, that is a heaping load of shit. What the hell does ’embodiment of childhood’ mean anyway?” He stops to light a cigar. “You know, my friends once told me to hook up with that Barney the Dinosaur dude. They said that ‘He’s big, purple, waves a lot like an idiot. Maybe he knows what you are.’ Except that the bastard never returns my calls.”
“What about your work peers?” I press, “They must know something.” He explains that ever since they let him go, he doesn’t really speak to his buddies anymore. Intrigued I ask. “Even the ‘man’ himself?”
“You mean Ronny?” he smirks and pauses, “We don’t really get along you know? And I can’t really talk about him, if you know what I mean. Let’s just say that that S.O.B. is one nasty clown and leave it at that.” And as quickly as it began, the interview is over and I am politely but firmly led away by Mildred.
For the next week, I can’t stop thinking about him. Even I want to know what he is. With his connections, he must know that a simple genetic test would divulge the secret. But I suppose that the irony in all of this is that people testing genetics was what started the whole thing anyway.
(This first edit eventually became this)