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Jennifer, my wife, has a secret. When she shared it with me, I was nearly traumatized beyond repair.

“Surely, you must be joking,” I said, unwilling to believe her words. “It can’t be true. Tell me it isn’t true.”

“It’s true,” she replied. “I’ve never eaten a Big Mac in my life.”

“Never?!” I exclaimed with animated concern.

“Never,” she said, speaking with a resoluteness to match.

“But the sign says they’ve served over ninety-nine billion people,” I continued, my eyes still wide with disbelief. “That’s like twelve times the number of people on the planet!” Shaking my head, “I just sort of assumed you fit into that huge number,” I said, despondently. “You know, assuming that you are an earthling, like the rest of us.”

“I’ve never eaten a Big Mac. Ever.”

“I wanna see your birth certificate and passport. Show me your papers, woman!”

“Shut up.”

“No, seriously,” I said. “Show ’em to me. I want to make sure you’re documented. I need to confirm that I didn’t marry a Russian spy or something.”

“You’re a dork,” she said, and walked away, a palm of disregard in the air.

The whole conversation was concerning, and it had me wondering if perhaps my little ones were traveling the same un-American paths as their clandestine mother, who I can’t even confirm is from earth let alone a citizen of these great United States. And so, the very next day, while Jennifer (who I’ll now refer to as Agent X) was taking my two daughters to their horseback riding lessons, I took my son, Harrison, through the McDonald’s drive-thru for lunch.

It was a test.

There at the menu board and microphone, I asked him if he’d like a Big Mac instead of his usual two-cheeseburger and fries meal.

“Sure,” he said, the ease of his answer granting me relative certainty.

“I’ll have two Big Macs,” I spoke into the microphone, “two medium fries, and—”

“—I’ve never had a Big Mac before,” Harrison said quietly to himself.

“What?!” I called out, turning to him in terror. “You, too?!”

“Sir,” a voice came from the speaker. “Could you repeat that last part?”

“And two medium Cokes,” I said, hitting the gas before I could hear my total.

“You’ve never had a Big Mac?” I pressed with a directness that caused the boy to become more attentive.

“No. I usually just get cheeseburgers with only ketchup.”

“You know you’re not an official citizen of America until you eat a Big Mac,” I said, sternly.

“I’m not?”

“No,” I replied, “and if the authorities show up and find out that you’ve never had a Big Mac, you could get deported—or worse—they try to feed you one, and your body rejects it, and then they lock you in a government lab and dissect you.”


“—Yes,” I interrupted. “They’ll send you back to your home country—or whatever planet your mother came from—but not before they try to figure out how you can subsist for so long without having ever eaten a Big Mac.”

“But I was born here.”

“Or so we were led to believe,” I said, putting my hand to the side of my mouth and whispering so that the woman at the window couldn’t hear me. “I don’t think we can prove it. As far as I know, your mother forged your birth certificate.”

“She did?”

“Look at the sign, Harry,” I said, pointing to the McDonald’s marquee. “Ninety-nine billion is a lot of people. You’re in danger, friend. It could be that you’re not really one of us.”

“So, what do I do?”

“Our only hope is to feed you a Big Mac and see what happens. For one, United States immigration code states that if you eat a Big Mac, you are officially an American and you’re due all privileges and protections. If you refuse to eat one, it could only be because you are French… or maybe from another world. And if you do eat one and your body rejects it, I’ll do what I can to hide you for a little while, at least until we can figure out what to do. Either way, we’d better hurry home and get to it, son.”

“Can I start eating before we get home?”

“Do it, man,” I said. “Do it.”

I paid the woman. She handed over the goods. We said a quick table prayer. I drove. He ate. By the time we got home, all was well. Harry had eaten his first Big Mac—and by the way, it was one with bacon on it, which is tantamount to affirming and blazing right past citizenship to being qualified for a seat in congress.

With that, I was happy for my son, although I’ll confess to sleeping with one eye open these days now that I know what I know. Agent X might try to cover her tracks and off me in my sleep.

Or lay alien eggs in my face.

Either way, the moral of the story is to pay attention. Know who—or what—is around you at all times. I don’t mean to alarm you, but resident humanity is established through a proper order of proofs. We breathe air. We drink water. We eat Big Macs. So, if you see someone who his able to hold his or her breath under water for an unusually long period of time, be amazed. But if you meet someone who has never eaten a Big Mac, call the authorities. It could be a sign of alien probing. It could be that you’ve met an alien scout who is surveying our weaknesses before an invasion. And what’s more, is you never even knew they were here.

Which reminds me.

The Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey is anything but emblematic of proper order when it comes to the world of whiskies. I say this because when I popped the cork and poured the first dram, I gave it a nosing, but I really couldn’t smell anything. Every whiskey has its proper proofs. I usually walk through these proofs in order—nose, palate, and finish. This one was somewhat alien to that process. It didn’t have anything to nose. I even gave it to Agent X to sniff because I can pretty much count on a recoiling at every whiskey I set before her. But this time she just looked at me.

“I don’t smell anything,” she said. “Is this a Big Mac?”

“No, dear,” I replied. “This is Irish whiskey. A Big Mac is a sandwich.”

She’s an alien, I just know it.

Anyway, what little I could draw from the whiskey was as bare as I’ve ever experienced. There were the faintest hints of vanilla and copper, but again, just barely, and not much else. A sip confirmed the vanilla, but it brought along with it a passing bit of fruit flesh that was just at the edge of discernible. I’d say it was a dish of ripened plums and well bruised apples.

The finish was medium in length—which is a generous description on my part. Incredibly airy, the only thing about the Proper No. Twelve that lingered past the short marker was the sense of alcohol and the sugary juice collecting at the bottom of the dish (which I’m guessing is copper) of fruits from the palate. It wasn’t necessarily unpleasant, however it just wasn’t emitting the proper proof one might need to verify this is indeed a whiskey at all.

I’m going to do a little searching into the history of the man behind this particular edition—Connor McGregor—the UFC fighter from Dublin. I’ll nose around the internet a little and see if I can discern if he’s one of the ninety-nine billion.

If not, then we’ll know for sure why this whiskey is a little outside the boundaries of proper order.