In the Beef Box – The Harvard Lampoon

In the Beef Box

  KBA '76

The name’s Leonard, fella. And believe me, I know hamburger. No, not steers, or fattened heifers or even London broil. Just hamburger. Buster, the stories I could tell you about the hamburger game… well, they’d curdle your cod. I’ll tell you. Really wither your whip. No foolin’.

Now you wonder where I got the straight poop on the burger biz? Well, lemme tell you, ya don’t learn this stuffy second-hand. No sir, you got to–ya wanna know a secret, bub? Yeah, well catch this: I was a choice three ouncer myself not too long ago. Yup, me–a Burger King Whopper. I know, I know I look just like you and the wife there. Believe me, I wouldn’t make up a story like this, Mac. I was a lousy, stinkin’ hamburger once. Store number 4, Lincoln, Nebraska, November 16, last year.

Cut and pressed and frozen and fried just like all the others.

But I knew from the beginning I wasn’t the same as those other fuckin’ lumps of meat. I thought. I felt, I–and I don’t mind tellin’ you this–I was horny. But it wasn’t for those sexless hunks of gristle around me that I lusted. Uh-uh. It was those big, warm, tender buns at the end of the line. I knew–we all knew, couldn’t help but know–what happened after the broiler. Grasped, carressed and thrust into a couple of steamy, doughy slabs.

The other burgers, they did it mechanically, mindlessly. No feeling, no emotion; woofed down by some pimply high schooler in a few short minutes, oblivious to death as they were to life.

No, I didn’t want it to end there: heat, sizzle, packed, gone. I wanted to take that bun and make a real go of it, ya know? Good times, messin’ around, sure. But I wanted a real relationship, too, you understand. I just knew me and those sesame seed-covered bazombas could stick together.

Well I wasn’t even supposed to be thinking, ya know, a crummy, Id-less hamburger and all, but I thought about it just the same, and thought hard.

I thought about living and the good things and trees and picnics and Jesus: “Think hard enough,” I said to myself, “and you’ll get outta this somehow.” It couldn’t be meant to end here, so quickly, so absolutely. “I got a fuckin’ ego too!” I cried. “I don’t wanna slip away into digestive oblivion like that! I don’t wanna die!”

So all of a sudden, I felt like I was goin’ bananas. Outa my skull, crazy, cracked, goo-goo. Everything was flashing and whirling and exploding like, like nothing I ever saw before.

Then–plooey! I’m out here walkin’ around the streets like you. Thought it was great at first. No more messin’ around with hamburgers; I was real.

But so what am I? A lousy goddamned MacDonald’s branch manager. “Job security, Rapid advancement. Big pay.” Big deal. I hate these icky little hamburgers. Flopping meat around all day, tossing on those greasy chunks of bread. Ordering around pubescent french fry-cookers. You think this is any better than before? Think again, buddy. So I’m “free to do what I want.” Free to do what, for Christ’s sake. Work in a sweaty, smelly burger joint 14 hours a day?

I hate it. This is no better at all. I don’t care if you and the little woman think it’s the great life. Fuck you. Fuck your wife and little Wendy and the twins. Twenty, thirty years and it’s all over anyhow. Old, wrinkled, repulsive, dead. Listen guy, you aren’t free, I ain’t free, none of us. . .