My glamorous job takes me to some interesting places. I get to see all different kinds of people and cultures, and try lots of different foods. Does this magical job take me to Dubai for camel riding? What about Paris for croissants?
Perhaps the sunny California coast to pay tribute to Tupac? (We will not forget you, Pac!) Not so much. But Southeastern Missouri? Totally.
Yesterday I was in a very southern part of Missouri known as the boot heel. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s really called the “boot hill” or the “boot heel” because the way the people in that area pronounce it sounds like “boot heel.”
But then again, they call soda “pop” and many of their vehicles sport murals of fly fishing on the back window, so I’m not sure what to believe. Up is down over there.
Either way, I found myself in rural southern Missouri yesterday right around lunch time. I was working diligently with one of the local residents when he pointed out that it was time for lunch (as if my rumbling stomach and random comments about burritos weren’t enough to let him know I was ready to eat). He was obviously very good at picking up social queues (although he has yet to understand that mustaches are not lady magnets).
I’m very familiar with this particular gentleman. He’s an older professorial type who looks like Mark Twain…if Mark Twain wore Mickey Mouse ties and drove a pick up truck. (I suspect Mark Twain would have been a Disney fan. Just a hunch.) So I will call this person Mark Twain for purposes of this blog. I’m just not feeling overly creative to think of a better name. Deal with it.
Mark Twain (not his real name) said it was time for lunch and asked me “How’s about we go grab a bag o burgers for lunch?”
Wait, what? A bag o burgers? I was immediately intrigued, not just because this highly educated gentleman seemed to have a tenuous grasp of the English language, but also because he wasn’t suggesting one burger. He was suggesting we get an entire bag. Um, game on.
But before I could commit to this endevour (and partially because I wasn’t sure if he would make me ride to the eatery in the back of the truck), I told him I needed more information before deciding if I was interested in the “bag o burgers.”
He seemed shocked that the promise of a bag filled with sub par meat wouldn’t be enough to entice me to lunch. Quite honestly, I was shocked myself. Maybe I was maturing and focusing on things other than food….nah.
“Um, Mark Twain, did you say a ‘bag o burgers?'” I asked, thinking perhaps he was mistaken.
“Of course! You’ve never had ’em before?” he responded.
I told him that although I’ve had my fair share of burgers, many of which have come in a bag of some sort, I’d never used “a bag” to quantify the amount of meat I wanted. Did one go to this place and order things by the bag? Could I get a bag of burgers and a satchel of sausage? What about a purse of pizza or a clutch of cake?
Was this a new form of measurement I needed to be aware of? I don’t fully understand the metric system, so I had some serious concerns that yet another form of measurement was lingering.
“How many burgers are in a bag?” I asked, trying to get to the bottom of the measurement issue, all the while trying to figure out if I should order a Liter or a gallon of vodka with my bag o burgers. (Damn you metric system!)
“Well, there are several in a bag,” Mark Twain responded, as if that was the obvious answer. But I needed more.
“How big are the burgers?” I asked. “What if I want more than one?”
He went on to tell me the burgers are about the size of a pickle. A pickle? Naturally, I asked him if he was referring to a dill spear or the bread and butter pickles. He said they are the size of an ordinary pickle. I then asked the next logical question. Are there pickles on them?
“Of course not,” he answered, as if I had just asked him a completely ridiculous question. “If there were pickles on them, then everyone would know how small the burgers were.” he said, as if this was the most logical argument in the world.
I told him I thought the cat was out of the bag on that one, and then immediately wondered if the cat came out of the same bag with the burgers. I could tell I was getting too involved in the conversation, yet I couldn’t help myself.
“Mark Twain, if we got a bag o burgers, would we each get our own bag, or would we share?” I asked, trying to get to the bottom of the issue (and get closer to eating).
“Well now, that depends on how hungry you are. I figured we could share but if you want more than one, you can have another.” he responded. He was so chivalrous.
“But how big are the bags?” I asked, trying to envision what a bag o burgers would look like. “Are they regular brown bags for lunches or are they plastic grocery bags?” I asked, trying to get an idea of how many pickle-sized burgers were in a bag.
“Now you’re just asking ridiculous questions,” he said. “Let’s go.”
But I couldn’t go. There were too many unanswered questions. Not only did I not know how big the bags were, I had no idea if the meat was even beef. And we hadn’t even touched upon the issue of side items. How were they delivered? Did I order a “tub o tots?” There were too many unanswered questions. I had to decline.
I told Mark Twain that I couldn’t join him, and that I was sad to be missing such a delicious lunch. He turned around, looked me straight in the eye and said “Oh don’t worry. The burgers are terrible.”