First let me say, I don’t eat beef or pork. It’s was choice that stemmed from personal philosophy in my early twenties; everybody stops eating meat for fifteen or twenty minutes at some point in their early twenties or mid-teens. It either takes, or you fall off the wagon. In my case it was both. I also had some health issues. Chronically high cholesterol. It’s like having old blood. My blood walks with a cane. The fact is I was a vegetarian for many years and did not eat meat at all. Then I started getting sick and my doctor told me I wasn’t getting some very necessary kinds of protein that one finds in a trout, hen, or tom turkey. So I slowly went back to eating fish and fowl, in that order. Because of that one of the things I came to love was a turkey burger. I was always a burger eater, even as a vegetarian. I would try every variation just to find one that seemed like a real burger. None do. I don’t care how many different kinds of soy you mince, pound, or grind into a pattie shape, it will never taste like a burger. So when turkey came back into my life a I became a connoisseur of the turkey burger and embraced it like an old friend. I would go to places I knew had them and test them like they were some French dish waiting for a Michelin star. Too dry. Needs Cheese. Nicely spiced. It was where I went for that comfort in those moments when the day was long, I was tired, and cooking was not in the cards. In short: It made me feel better when I felt like shit.
This week started out with me getting shit on. Literally. I was walking to the train, turned a corner and a creature with the body of a pigeon and the bald head of Jackson Pollock opened it’s ass and sprayed me with the wonder bread the old man outside a bodega feeds it every morning. For a second I didn’t know what had happened. My first thought was that it was an air conditioner. The way they spray you with condinsation in the summer from high windows. Then I remembered it was 32 degrees and the only people using air conditioners were 3000 miles away to the west. My blue Spyder (Why cant they spell it Spider? Real spiders are tougher than Spyders with a y) jacket was covered with specks of grey black and white and if not for my glasses my eyes wold have been hit too. The thought occurred to me I could go home and change, but I was very close to the train, and decided the damage was not that bad, so I moved on. Then, once on the train I felt bad… Sorry no, I smelt bad. On the train I smelt bad. I did feel bad, but, for the other riders having me standing next to them smelling of bird shit. It’s a terrible smell. It’s there but not really there. Like something was wet for too long and started to mold with a hint of feces, and flowers. I was wrong, the damage was that bad. I got to work and washed off my coat changing it from Pollack to Dali. I got a cup of mint tea, sat down at my desk and within 2 minutes dumped the tea over my lap. The smell that arose from that was a combination of mint and bird shit. The two together made a new smell that I’m sure would go nicely in some of the cheaper Chinatown busses. It was obviously going to be a difficult day. I’m not one of those people who gets worked up over difficulty. Difficulty happens. It’s part of the world and I generally deal with it, understand it, and respect it. We send each other cards at holidays, and wave as we pass each other on the street. Ours is a cordial relationship. I feel like it’s better to get to know difficulty and respect it as a part of the everyday rather than getting upset every time it fucks with you. I mean it’s always there so why fight it? So I didn’t. I just let it happen and for the rest of the day was plagued by a series of minor setbacks thrown at me. Hi difficulty! Thanks for that. Nothing too dramatic, but, by the end of the day I was done and just wanted to go home, see my family, and not cook.
I wanted a turkey burger. Now, I should say that we are poor, so we don’t eat out much, take out or delivery if we do, that it happens maybe once a week. So when we spend money on food outside our home it’s because it’s a special occasion, logistic, or necessity. This was the later. As I left the office I realized it was snowing. One of those late in the season snow storms that, if it had been January or February, would have been welcome, but it was March, and I think I speak for a lot of us when I say, fuck you snow in March and April. On Mondays I pick up my son, Max, from a sitter, and take care of him until my wife, Nicole, gets home. Nicole teaches dance to kids, and in order to make it so Max doesn’t have to go with her to the studio every day, we leave him with a variety of sitters and friends. On this particular day I got off the train and had to walk in the opposite direction of our house ten minutes. The sitter was on the other side of town, so, as was said in Arrested Development, “Head down, power through”. I was not going to let this get to me. I would see difficulty across the street and smile though gritted teeth. As I walked I started to feel pangs of hunger. I should have eaten something before I left work. Should have had a nosh. I picked up Max and headed home. On the way there I decided tonight we would get take out. Tonight we would have those turkey burgers for sure, no doubt about it. Tonight I was tired and difficulty was following me around like a lost puppy. Chances are if I did try to cook I would have just ended up creating a situation you find when accidents happen in meth labs. I arrived home and went through my routine with Max. At this point I usually forget about whatever had happened during the day and my hunger. Watching him run around with no idea that anything bad can happen is amazing. It’s a reminder that I, who am an anxious little man, must remember that it’s exactly the same for me as it is for him, I just don’t know it anymore. I forgot. He plays for a while, then I feed him, and then…bath time. Bath time is full of activity. There are songs, toys, and recently bubbles. Not a bubble bath but I blow bubbles while he sits watching, amazed at the magic I can pull from my fingers. I get him out and dried. Into bed, and as usual on Mondays, make short work of getting him to sleep. I closed the door to his room and my phone lights up with a text. At this point it was 8pm and I was really hungry. The text was from Nicole “On my way!”. So I went online and ordered from a place we had used before. A place with good turkey burgers.
Ordering online is a crap shoot. Even if it works 95 percent of the time there is always the chance that that restaurant isn’t open and Seamless(The online ordering site we use) fucked up. They were closed or out or gone or literally gone. Moments after ordering I got my confirmation that my order had been sent to the kitchen and my dinner would be along shortly. The time frame was 45 minutes to an hour. Totally reasonable. I sat down to rest for a bit and wait for Nicole to come home. A half an hour later she walked in covered in snow and ready for dinner. We caught up. Told each other about our days. Got hungrier. Talk about Max. Got hungrier. At this point it had been an hour. My phone rings “Hi Mister Beerman. I’m really sorry but because of the storm we had a delay with your food. I’m afraid there was and accident and we got behind.” Oh god. An accident. I’m thinking that one of the delivery drivers must have been hurt. Some poor latino kid who never wears a jacket because the restaurant is too hot and he thinks he’s too cool for it anyway is now shivering in the snow while a cop writes him a ticket. He will loose all of his tip money and not be able to buy those cool boots for line dancing. All for my turkey burger. So I tell him it’s fine. Of course. Don’t worry about it. Get it here when you can. Now at this point a normal person would just make something quick to eat. Rummage through the fridge and make a turkey sandwich. Eat something. Anything. Not me. No. I am saving my hungar for that turkey burger. I do that. I save hunger and only spend it on food that really deserves my stomach. Finally I’m starting to get really hangry. Fuck this. Latino kid shivering in the snow be damned I want my dinner. I call back. I tell the lady who picks up what happened. She puts me on hold and then a man picks up. “Hi there Josh. This is Mark the Mananger. I’m so sorry. Look here’s what happened. We got your order for turkey burgers but they got put in as beef. We discovered the error and the kitchen never cooked the replacments, so nothihg went out.” I can’t believe it. I’m aghast. So I did the math in my head. The sum total was this, no turkey burger. “Look, I can have it to you in twenty minutes.” I look a the clock. 930pm. We have a toddleer who will be up god knows when. I tell him no. Forget it. We’ll be going to bed soon. Then he delivers a tirade of apologies and tells me that we are getting a free meal. That I should just call in and ask for Mark or Tom and our meal will be comped. This is the right thing to do. I know because my brother is a restaurantur and I watch a lot of Gordon Ramsey shows. So fine. I hang up the phone, at least satisfied that he felt bad, we got a free meal, and go to the frige. We piece together somehting that looks like dinner and get ready for bed. It’s as I’m brushing my teeth I realize…I’ve been lied to. The first guy I talked to told me some hooey about an accident. The second guy, who I believe was Mark of Mark and Tom, told me they had just fucked up. I hate being lied to, but even worse I hate figuring it out later. Why couldn’t I have realized that on the phone and made him see that lying to customers who only eat white meats, but not pork, will loose you customers. I let it go. Put it away and decided this day needed to be put to sleep. I kissed difficulty full on the lips and went to bed.
Fast forward to Friday. I remember walking to work on that, getting to the corner where the pigeon had shit on me, and stopping. I really wanted to see the son of a bitch. I’m not sure why it took me 3 days, since I walk that path everyday, but I wanted to see him. To know what he looked like. It had to be a him. Only a guy would do that. I look up at the awning for any sign of a bird. Nothing. It’s empty. I smiled. The end of this week will be better than the beginning.
At about 1pm I start gettting hungry and think I should have my turkey sandwhich on the extra healthy bad bread I bought. Then I remember the turkey burgers and I get real excited. We should have those burgers tonight. Friday night fun dinner!! It’s a free meal after all. Then I check my credit card. The one I ordered the burgers on on Monday. The charge is still there. 31.05. They never took it off. So I call. A man who I discover to be, Tom, gets on the phone with me.
“Hey Josh gosh so sorry. What was that order, remind me, and I’ll bring it over to you right now.” I’m not home right now. “Look, no matter what it’s not lost money. You’re getting your burgers.” Ok, thanks can you refund the meal. “Gimmie your address I’ll have to bring it over.” Bring what over? “Your refund.” Can you just put it back on the card. “Why? I mean money is money right?” I guess, but I’d like it on the card. “What is it with this card?” It’s my credit card. “Look what do you want me to do here?” Put the money back on my card. “But I can bring you either cash or your meal right now.” I’m not home right now. “When will you be?” Later, I don’t know. I don’t know my schedule. Why- “Look I will make sure you get this meal. You just call and ask for Tom. I’ll take care of you.” Can I talk to Mark? “Why do you want to talk to Mark?” I talked to him before. “Mark’s not here. He’s my manager and he’s out until next week.” (Sigh) Fine, can I call you later. Maybe get the burgers tonight? “Sure sure, just call and ask for Tom.” Right…Tom.
I hang up the phone and once again realize I was lied to. This guy was basically telling me I was getting the meal I paid for. Not the meal I was told I would get, the free one. Why couldn’t he just put the money back on the card. Something shady was at work. Something that to this day(four days later) still remains a mystery.
I had to leave work early that day for an appointment at the eye doctor. Over the last 2 years my eyes have gotten really bad and I was in need of a new prescription. I happened to have pretty good insurance right now so I needed to take advantage of it. I made an appointment at this place near my house that I walked by everyday and didn’t even know was there until I needed an eye doctor. When I arrived it was full of parents and their children and had that weird smell preschools have when they haven’t been cleaned in a long time. I sat down in the waiting area and that’s when I remembered I had eaten at like 11 that morning. It was now close to 5 and I was starting to get hungry. They called my name and I was escorted into a room where they let a machine pump air onto my eyeball. Every time they did it I jumped out of chair. I knew it was coming but I still jumped. Then they sent me in with the doctor. These are all the tests you always get. “Can you read this row? This row? That one? Umm hmm. Ok. Yeah. Really? Really? Oh that’s good. Well, good. You’re not going blind.” Not. Going. Blind. He actually said that and it wasn’t in a jokey bad doctor humor kind of way. He meant it. It was just a fact. That I, Josh Beerman, was not going blind. I started to panic. Was that an option? Is that a thing we were even talking about? I’m not going blind. That’s great. Does that mean I will be. “And you’re right on the line.” The line for what? “Needing two pairs of glasses. One for close and one for far away” Who is old? This guy. Two pairs of…sigh…I didn’t even know what to say. That’s something that will be in my life at some point. I will need two pairs of glasses. Honey where are my glasses I can’t see that mountain. Dear, where are my glasses I can’t read this People magazine.(It’s funny because there are no words in People Magazine)
I walked out after paying 154.00 on my credit card, because I have great insurance that pays for everything except 154.00. I walk all the way home and realize, wait, I do I have great insurance, and I put aside a ton of FSA (pre taxed) money aside to pay for things like glasses. I’m standing in my door at this point and tell Nicole I used the wrong card. That I should go back and see if they can switch the charges to my fsa card, it’s like a credit card but only for stuff like this. I call the place and they tell me I have to come now if I want to change cards. That they are closing in ten minutes. Yes! I start to run out the door and stop. I grab the car keys. It will be much quicker on a Friday afternoon at 545pm in New Jersey next to the Holland Tunnel if I drive. So I did. I spent the next half hour looking for a parking place anywhere near the store. I would stop at lights and text Nicole, “Fuck, this sucks, why did I drive, fuck.” As I drove it got worse and worse. It was hanger, pure and simple. I needed food. At one point I actually drive down a one way street and didn’t even realize it until halfway down I saw cars heading toward me. I pulled over and let the hungry rage drift through my old blood. I finally drove all the way back, close to the neighborhood where we live, parked the car and ran for the eye place. Nicole was amazing enough to call ahead and tell them I was coming so when I got there, out of breath, sweaty, tired, and hangry, they were still waiting. We made the switch on the cards and I walked out the door. I called Nicole. She answered and said: “Do you want to do the turkey burgers?” I can’t deal with them. I just can’t do it. Not right now. We were supposed to get a free meal and now they won’t put the money back on my card and I don’t know if it’s free or if we’re paying and- “Wait, you want cheese on yours?” Yes. “Ok, I’ll take care of it.”
I got back to the car and fell in the seat. Jesus. I remembered this week started with me getting shit on. I looked across the street and through the haze of my hungar, or maybe it was just my old glasses, I saw difficulty waving at me. I flipped him off and drove home. When I arrived Nicole and Max were waiting for me all smiles. She had called in our order and went through the same runaround I did. In the end she got the meal and a 25 dollar credit from Tom. Who was none to happy to part with it.
Now, we’ve been training our son to go to sleep by himself. The entails me or Nicole sitting in his room on alternating nights while he fights with sleep. That’s it, we just sit in the room. The only thing that changes is that every night we sit a little further away from his bed until we are outside the door and he is all alone and falls asleep with no one in the room. It had been going pretty well and sometimes only took 15 minutes or less. This was my night. After his bath I walked him into the back toward his room. I saw difficulty in the dark, waiting. We locked eyes. It was a Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone moment. I stepped into the room and shut the door. In the dark Max cried, rolled, stood, smiled, and once ran at full speed across his crib running face first into he wall. He fell on his back crying and I picked him up to make sure he was alright. He was fine and curled up on my chest, ready for sleep, either that or he was concussed. I was still hungry, but for a moment or two it didn’t matter. I just let him sit on my chest and then laid him in the crib. He cried for a moment and then got in his sleep position, butt in the air, head on the bed, and eventually he was snoring baby snores.
The burgers arrived in a reasonable amount of time. I sat down with Nicole and took a bite and sighed. It wasn’t exactly warm, but it was warm enough and as I chewed. I imagined…I imagined I was not eating turkey. I was eating pigeon.