Don Gorske, 54, hit his latest milestone when he ate his 23,000th Big Mac last month. He vows to continue even when the Military Road McDonald's — where his lips first met two-all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun — closes for renovations.
But the physically fit husband, father, traveler and author has more layers than the sandwich he adores.
It's an obsession that began May 17, 1972, when he got his first car. Inside a safe box, he has all his receipts. Inside his head, however, are distinct memories of how his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder mixes with numbers, dates and facts in a way his wife, Mary, just chuckles at.
"People might as well know how things like (OCD) get started," Gorske said. "I shouldn't say my parents fought a lot, but they did. My dad was constantly on my mom to penny pinch. If she would leave the faucet on, he'd yell at her. If she left the stove burner on, he'd yell at her.
"When I was really small, one of the first things I remember is she would say, 'Donny, can you make sure, before dad gets home, that the refrigerator is shut and the burners and everything are off?' I literally touched everything in the kitchen. I would go to the bathrooms to touch everything to make sure everything was off and the doors were shut."
"He was just protecting his mom," Mary said.
Occasionally situations escalated between his parents, but he would just use the extra pillow his mother gave him to muffle the noise.
The bond between mother and son was so strong he skipped a Big Mac the day she died upon her request.
Gorske became fascinated with numbers before he entered school. His mother helped him track odometer readings from family cars and he used subtraction to determine average miles traveled in a week. Now, he is employed by Waupun Correctional Institution and deals with dates and numbers daily.
"By the time I was in the fourth grade … my teacher gave me a college test for math," he said. "I aced it. She said, 'Donny, we never covered this stuff.' I said, 'No, it is just logical.'"
For Gorske, seeing McDonald's track its number of customers served only motivated him to track his share eaten.
His desire to keep records has even trickled into the 205-page book titled "22,477 Big Macs."
The book — which Gorske typed using one finger and double-spaced between every word — was published May 2. He started the book Jan. 4, 2006; the day after Mary's father passed away.
"I started the book the next day because he was the last grandparent of my kids," Gorske said. "Now I am the grandparent. Her dad had a lot of memories he wished he had written down. I was not going to do that. (His death) was a motivator for me."
Mary said she helped delete every extra space in the book and assisted in shortening it for non-family members.
Asked if her husband's OCD bothered her when they first met, Mary Gorske said she didn't care, she was in love.
Asked if he thinks people think he is little crazy for eating 23,000 Big Macs, Don Gorske said he doesn't care, he is still in love.
"I promised myself I would eat a Big Mac every day no matter how bad things got," he said. "The best thing of the whole day was the Big Mac. It is not just a matter of I love them. It was just great that no matter how bad my day went — whether I ate it at work or at home — the Big Mac was there for me."
Found this Post interesting? Discover more Curious Reads.