The Chubby Burger
Doug types too much...
August 14, 2018
A couple of weeks ago, I was working in another building that doesn’t have its own cafeteria. As a consolation, varying food trucks provide lunch items. Each day is a different vendor parked outside from 11 – 1:30.
I didn’t have a lunch from home that day. Rather than walk in the heat over to one of the other buildings with a cafeteria, I considered patronizing whatever food truck rolled up.
Right as I was Jonesing about that, I saw a guy come walking in carrying a telltale styrofoam container. He sat at a desk behind me with his back facing me.
What transpired was interesting. I watched this man hunch down over his food. The sound effects were something out of a zombie movie where they’re eating your guts.
This went on for a couple of minutes. Sustained SOUNDS.
When he was done, it took a couple of napkins to tidy things up.
I turned to him. “Hey, man, did you just come from the food truck outside?”
He nodded yes.
“So what’d you have?” I asked.
“The Texas Cheesesteak sandwich.”
“Was it good?”
“Oh, yeah,” he grinned. “I’ll probably have a heart attack later, but yeah, it was really good.”
Yeah. I’m havin’ that.
I went downstairs. It was end of July sticky hot outside. I broke a sweat on my bald head within 2 minutes.
I ordered the Texas Cheesesteak. Ten bucks.
It took almost 15 minutes. Sweat beads were running down my face at this point.
The styrofoam box weighed more than it should have. Granted, it came with crinkle fries, but it was still pretty hefty.
So here’s what it was. A Philly Cheesesteak on Texas Toast. Except the toast was only toasted on the outside, not the inside which was still soft bread. They had slathered, and I mean SLATHERED mayo on both sides of the soft inside bread. Then they glopped on an obscene amount of cheesesteak stuff. They’d neatly cut the sandwich in half diagonally. When I picked up one of the halves, it literally bled like hot goop through my fingers. The sandwich disintegrated immediately into cheesesteak mush.
I was like WTF. What a freakin’ mess. I was pissed.
About this time, another worker comes in with his styrofoam container and points to me and says, “Oh, you got my favorite.”
The next day when I told a co-worker about my encounter, he imparted some wisdom.
“When it comes to food, there’s messy, and then there’s overwhelmingly messy.”
Exactly. When the pain exceeds the pleasure.
Fortunately I had access to a fork.
I like good food. On our anniversary a couple of years ago in Vegas, Judy and I ate wasabi fat-infused steaks at Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venetian. No. I know what good tastes like, okay?
Not that I’m a food snob. I’m not. Trust me. I can be a wicked person when it comes to fast food. Like male witch wicked.
In my defense, my first real job – the one where they took taxes out – poisoned me. When I went to work for McDonald’s, I was forever branded. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but you have to keep things cool. Make visits to Mickie Dee’s infrequent.
I remember seeing a preacher on The Dr. Phil Show who admitted he went to McDonald’s 14 times a week. The audience audibly gasped. Even Dr. Phil was speechless for a moment.
I’m not as bad as that guy. I could be. With little encouragement. Oh, I definitely could.
When I was a kid, my mother watched Roller Derby on the weekends. Granted, your weekend daytime selections in the 1960s provided essentially by 3 channels were spotty. But my mother was able to find and repeatedly enjoy women’s Roller Derby. She was only interested in the women. They were more feisty. My mother thought the men rollers were boring.
She was right. The men were boring. The women elbowed each other in the face and shoved and knocked each other down. They yanked on hair. Bad. Ass.
In 2010, I saw women’s Roller Derby live for the first time. I took my son Ivan for a boys’ night out. This was when I discovered The Chubby Burger.
The Roller Derby was held in a big warehouse in Fisherville which would qualify as a one-horse town if they had a horse. But I didn’t see one. As a matter of fact, there’s hardly anything to see in Fisherville.
But they do have a restaurant. The Mossy Creek Café. Already you know you shouldn’t go in, right? But it was the only game in town besides a fast food joint.
From the outside, it looked dark and dingy. Heavily smoked glass so you couldn’t see inside. There were two entrances – one for the restaurant and one if you wanted to walk directly into the bar.
We entered to find that the inside greatly resembled the outside in the dark and dingy department. We were seated at a sticky table by a shy teenage girl who looked to be all of 16.
The Mossy is famous for their burgers. Or so the sticky plastic-coated menus said. At the bottom of the menu was the entry: The Chubby Burger – a big juicy burger with cheese and bacon strips. The bun is the secret. They use two complete grilled cheese sandwiches.
I didn’t order it. Even I knew better.
But in the deepest most selfish parts of my twisted mind, I wanted to.
And from that moment on, I became fixated on actually devouring one.
A Friday evening. Ivan and I were taking Judy to the Roller Derby for her first live exposure. Halfway there, I got called by work. They needed me to come in. Great. We doubled back and Judy and Ivan dropped me at work.
They drove off to Fisherville without me.
There was a reason I needed to go to Roller Derby that night. Because we were going to stop at The Mossy and I had my heart set on you-know-what. I’d been salivating about it – visualizing turning it around in my hands to determine the best access point.
But because of work, I was robbed of the opportunity.
This made me fixate even more. I pounded my chest and declared that I would make my own Chubby Burger. I would not be denied. Judy wanted no part of it and told me I was an idiot for even contemplating it.
But she didn’t say no. Partly because she knows it probably wouldn’t do any good and partly because sometimes I am, in fact, an idiot and by and large, idiots are hard to talk to. That’s just a fact.
As John Wayne liked to say, “Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”
A few weeks after I’d missed my second chance at a Chubby Burger, the devil took a hold of Doug’s idle hands. Judy was gone overnight. I was alone. Examining the devices I’d been left with.
If I told you I was cackling as I slaved over the stove, that would be only a hair shy of exaggeration. I’m betting there was at least a little dark side Dick Cheney grin on my face the whole time.
After the assembly, and after carefully assessing and accessing the most suitable opening bite to my monster sandwich, my mouth exploded in fat heaven. This initial rush was deceiving. By the time I’d finished, I had to lie down on the couch to let it settle. A beached whale in front of the TV. Thank God the kids didn’t see it.
Well, as Jack Nicholson said to his fellow inmates in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: “At least I tried!”
I was reminded of an incident years ago when we lived in South Carolina where I’d read the recipe for Elvis Presley’s favorite comfort food sandwich and I made one – mashed banana, peanut butter, crisp bacon – then you fry the sandwich in the bacon grease.
We only made one and cut it in half. That was all you needed, trust me.
And then you felt like you’d swallowed a lead balloon for the rest of the night.
The first time I had a Wendy’s Baconator, I didn’t know they came in different stacks. The window person didn’t tell me. They just assumed I wanted the single-patty Baconator. With lots of bacon. And lots of cheese. And lots of mayo and ketchup. Lots of everything.
It was messy. But not messy enough. As Sissy Spacek’s mom said in Carrie, “I liked it.”
The next time I went through the drive-thru and ordered a Baconator, I got push-back. Unexpected and surprising push-back.
“How many patties do you want on your Baconator? Do you want a single, a double, or a triple?”
What? This was insane. I’d already had the messy single-patty. How much crazier could this get?
I angled my head toward the squawk box.
“I’ll take a double.”
I think I smiled a little evil smile to myself when I said it. I’m gonna level with you here. I thought about the triple, okay? Okay? Alright. But I didn’t execute. I played it safe and went with the double. You know, ’cause I’m a class act.
In the first month and a half of 2013, I was out of work. Between contracts. I was actually on unemployment for a month.
I wasn’t destitute. But I was bored. And one day, I found myself at the Wendy’s drive-thru.
No, I’m gonna do it. I’m ordering that 1,150 calorie triple-Baconator.
As my co-worker said, it was overwhelming to the point of being unpleasant. Messy? Oh, no. This was out of control.
But I ate it.
And I didn’t feel good later. I had McGurgle and McBrick on steroids.
So take it from a professional. Stop at the double. Seriously.
The holy grail of craziness is KFC’s Double-Down where the bun is made of two breasts of fried chicken with cheese, bacon and sauce in between. It was the subject of much derision and consequently, was taken off and put back on the menu repeatedly.
I am proud to say I never ate one. I was tempted. I’m being transparent here. In the spring of 2010 when I started to pass promotional ads for the Double-Down, I deeply considered it. I even got mad at myself at one point.
“Go on, man. Just do it! Be a man.”
But I was reading bad press. There was love mixed with an uproar. The haters said it was the worst thing ever foisted on consumers. I wasn’t convinced. It sounded pretty good.
But then I pushed back on myself. “Hey, man. C’mon, get a grip. There’s not even a freaking bun. They’re using FRIED CHICKEN as a bun. What the hell’s wrong with you?”
And then the other part of myself said, “Exactly. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.”
But I held out.
I was strong.
No Double-Down for me.
In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, I was a heavier guy. In fact, at one point, I was 42 pounds heavier than I am today. And trust me, I could still stand to lose 10 or 15 pounds. If I lost 20, I’d be an elderly Olympian.
But I’m a loose cannon.
I’m warning you. Don’t leave me alone.
I’m sitting in my parked car at the Ruckersville KFC. I’m watching the guy up on the ladder change the sign. He just finished putting up the first letter.
Better not be spellin’ Double-Down.
The horror. The horror.