A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Sometimes, the future seems bleak, like when you imagine a world governed by hatred and violence and Snapchat interactions. Other times, it’s like a super awesome science fiction movie, as in this “e-skin” technology whose primary function I gather is to make all of us look and function like Terminators. And other times, it’s just plain scary.

Exhibit A: In the future, McDonald’s will offer a bottomless carton of fries. In the town of St. Joseph, Missouri, a franchise-owner has announced plans to open an actual “McDonald’s of the future” in the next few months. The location will feature all sorts of modern amenities to appeal to the fastest of fast food lovers, like comfy, “earth-tone” seating, giant kiosks where one may customize one’s own Mac Attack, food delivered to your table, and yes: all-you-can-eat fries. You know those fries. Those fries that even people who don’t love McDonald’s can’t deny craving. Those fries that somehow simultaneously smell absolutely nauseating and taste like manna from heaven (or is it hell?). This is clearly one of the signs of mankind’s impending doom, as there is no way that we Americans can confront this new challenge with even a shred of dignity or responsibility. A never-ending pasta bowl we can handle, sure. Ten cent tacos? Bring it on. But this. Unlimited fries + comfortable chairs? This is a new level of aggression, and I just don’t think we’re prepared for it. This may or may not precipitate our mass extinction. I mean, I’m obviously hoping for the best.

Exhibit B: Turns out hand dryers just make everything worse. You know how all the socially responsible places have replaced dirty, environmentally-unsound paper towel dispensers with super high-powered hand dryers? They’re cleaner, right? Your hands are dried in seconds and you didn’t have to touch a darn thing once you figured out how to unlock and open the door with your elbows. They’re way better than those annoying, old fashioned ones that just sort of dribble out warm air and leave your hands damp and clammy. And everyone knows that the higher tech something looks, the better it is for you and the world. Except for the part where a new study makes it seem as though those machines actually just power-blast germs and viruses all over the place. Like, up to ten feet away. Of course, as with all studies, this one is inconclusive. In the meantime, next time you’re in a public restroom you’ll just have to pick your poison and know that no matter what you do, you’re probably going to wind up catching the avian flu.

Exhibit C: Monster mushrooms may be coming to a produce aisle near you. The USDA has just approved a genetically modified button mushroom, enhanced to prevent browning when exposed to air. Because as we all know, there is no greater scourge on this Earth than that of prematurely browned edible fungus. How many times have you sliced up some raw mushrooms for a salad, then checked some email, did a workout video, returned a few phone calls, and bathed the cat only to return to find them oxidized to an inedible russet shade? I’m glad there are folks out there who won’t rest until this problem is resolved. Naturally, there are the potential cons to consider, as all great strides in progress must be balanced by sacrifice. For instance, will the new, whiter mushrooms taste different? Will they cook similarly? What if they stay looking good long past when they should safely be eaten? Will they make new mushrooms sprout from my ears and nostrils? Will they make my pee smell? How many thumbs will my offspring have if I eat this product daily throughout my pregnancy? Clearly more scrutiny is needed, and I am in no hurry to see these Frankenshrooms appear in my local grocery store. Thankfully, the product still needs to clear the significant hurdles of the FDA and the EPA, so it’s not exactly a fait accompli, but we’d be fools to ignore this story. I think we’ve all been alive long enough to know what a fearsome foe the mushroom lobby can be. Or have we so soon forgotten the great Portabella Plot of the mid-90s? “Takes just like steak” indeed. They got you once, don’t think for a second they won’t get you again.

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!