Two weeks ago, McDonald's announced that Ronald McDonald was making a comeback in the digital age. He'll be Tweeting and taking selfies. What follows is a firsthand account of what happened when Ron got the call:
"Ronny, my man!" yelped the man on the phone.
Ron couldn't place the voice. It sounded familiar, and caused a tiny balloon of sadness to float up from his gut.
"It's Joe!" said Ron's former agent, a man whose best character trait was teeth. "Know what I'm doing right now? I'll tell you. I'm polishing a pair of size 30 red shoes. They're beautiful. It's time for Ronald McDonald two point oh."
"Joe?" Ron muttered, his hangover in its angry phase. "Stillfuckyou."
He hung up and buried his oddly shaped face in the pillow. The sheets were 14,000 thread count, all of which were badly soiled. He'd long since fired the housemaids. He was upside down on his mortgage -- but everyone was. And the short-sale market on mansions made from hard plastic trees wasn't especially strong. He'd get through it.
Feeling his anxiety, Grimace reached over with his soft, velveteen hand and caressed Ron's extremely long torso.
The phone rang again.
"Vaffanculo," Ron growled.
"Twenty million," said Joe. "Of course it's a 360 deal. They get half of all merchandise, books, remaining healthy sperm. But that's every deal these days. Twenty... million, buddy."
Ron sat up and looked at himself in the closet mirror. His midsection, once well-abbed, was now just a doughy shade tent for his penis. He had a poor relationship with his penis. No one likes to think about clowns having penises, and the "don't ask, don't touch" policy had lead to shame.
He couldn't blame them for what he'd become. At the time, no one knew lead face paint was poisonous. Ron had never been a terribly bright person. After graduating, it wasn't like "clown school or Yale?" Still, the trace metals made sentences hard.
The Red Dye No. 5 in his hair had raised some serious issues, too. Tumors rise, that's what they do. His scalp was now like the inverted surface of a golf ball. Luckily, they'd been radiated into non-lethal, purely ornamental state. If McDonald's had assured one thing, it's that their star -- the global embodiment of their festive almost-food -- would not become a public relations disaster like the Marlboro Man. When he lost the foot to gout, they got him a top-of-the-line Oscar Pistorius.
The triangles below his eyes were permanent -- tattooed on his lower orbital bone after killing a rival in clown school. Just one of those racist rodeo bozos, not a huge deal. Mickey D's public relations department had managed to keep it buried -- mostly because the Internet didn't exist during Ronald's heyday, and TMZ's legion of succubus Fabio interns weren't yet roaming the streets with cameras, ripping celebrity souls out by their stems.
"This is a hashtag," said the young, self-proclaimed social media guru on Ronald's first day back at corporate. "It's like an address for your electronic thoughts. Like this: #NotWearingPanties."
Ron scratched his head. Why him, why now? They all talked about some grand makeover. But there hadn't been any quantum leaps in clown technology. Plus the fat people advocates were ticked. They viewed Ronald as a baggy-pantsed Leni Riefenstahl -- brainwashing kids into Mickey D's highly saturated joy agenda.
What are chia seeds? he wondered.
But the biggest thing Ronald couldn't get over is -- clowns. If crying a deep, psychologically frail cry was what you wanted of children, clowns were very effective. Clowns' approval rating hung somewhere between mimes and ethnic cleansing. Their trembling clown paranoia -- which, quite frankly, Ron thought was a tad melodramatic -- had lead to Ron's first existential breakdown and retirement.
No matter, he sighed. Thinking of 20 million reasons, Ronald McDonald sucked in his gut and selfied.