Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Way of All Beef

Only three smells leak from houses here: dryer sheet, mildew, and hamburger. Down the street is a house that constantly cooks itself hamburgers, seemingly every time I walk past. I have entertained the notion that they have a hamburger smell machine, but I know better. Such machines are expensive. It must be real beef.

Do they understand what it does for me, every time? I, who look askance at beef, I who have not touched the stuff in years? It makes me 11, 12, 13. It makes me Fourth of July, wearing a flag shirt and red shorts and mixing up a creamy cake with a blueberry-strawberry Old Glory on top. It makes me sophisticated, no longer taking my burger with cheese and ketchup like a child, but with cheese and ketchup and mayo and a hint of sweet relish like a grown-up. It makes me younger than that, too, at half-remembered picnics with military moms and dads. They would be sent away in a year or two but would grill up big, juicy burgers as if they owned their lives in the meantime.

This is not the smell of two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese—no way. It is thicker than that, full of drippings and charcoal smoke and gritty grills. It doesn’t care that I don’t like it now. It knew me when.


Post a Comment

<< Home