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25 Jul 2011

If Proust Were From Texas.

Written by sally @ 8:28 pm — Section: sally

There’s a Minyard’s commercial where a teenage girl is on the phone and crumbles ground beef into a pan to brown. I am fascinated that a) a teenager is cooking and b) she is touching the ground beef and c) also a teenager is cooking. I did not cook, was not encouraged to cook, had no interest in cooking, was terrified of the stove. I bluffed my way through making a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches once but the kitchen got smoky because the heat was too high. I do not touch the ground beef when I dump it in the pan, but I do think of that Minyard’s girl. (Not the right ones, but entertaining for hairdo purposes.)

Every Wednesday night from 1985-1990, my family and I go to Whataburger. Whataburger is ok and all, but my dad is an engineer and dammit we go to Whataburger on Wednesdays. There is an Indian guy named Jim Sidhu who works at Whataburger for a year, and I’m not sure who’s more embarrassed: me for being a Whataburger regular, or him for working at Whataburger. We both have to be there; at least he’s getting paid. At the end of the school year, he writes WHATABURGER RULES in my yearbook.

If eating at Whataburger at least once a week wasn’t enough hamburggery for one family, sometimes on the weekend my dad will grill burgers. They are always way too thick and don’t cook all the way. We eat them with Doritos. I think this is gross and complain to my mother when I get home about how he is trying to poison us with undercooked meat. Years later, my friends who live in the small white house and I decide to grill some burgers. They don’t have a grill. Patrick digs a hole and Ann puts one of the oven racks over it. I request that we eat them a little rare with Doritos. They are my best friends so they respond enthusiastically.

My Italian grandmother’s aunt Rosie was famous for her meatballs. “Bring your meatballs when you come,” someone said to her in a letter. She packed her suitcase. Skirts, a slip, a brassiere, some blouses, some meatballs.

A friend describes a girl she doesn’t like as looking like “ground beef with teeth.” It is apt, it is perfect, it is the meanest thing anyone has ever said aloud.

My college boyfriend, despite multiple jobs, is always on the brink of destitution. Sometimes he swipes a pound of ground beef from his stepmother’s freezer on his way to school, leaves it in his car on top of the hatchback cover to defrost, and then cooks it at my house for lunch. One day he skips class to donate plasma. He passes out and I have to come get him. They don’t let him leave for several hours. When we open his car to get his backpack, the smell overpowers us. The ground beef has defrosted, cooked itself, and burned in the heat of his car. We live in Texas.

One Response to “If Proust Were From Texas.”

  1. Ann said:

    Awww, I love that memory of us cooking burgers! No grill? Eh, whatev, we can dig a hole and use an oven rack. The creative spirit of youth and poverty … Sigh.