Jun 10

The Union Bar in Gering Nebraska has its own little claim to fame: the Diet Burger.  The Nebraska Beef Council holds a “Nebraska’s Best Burger” contest every year.  The Diet Burger was one of  five finalists for this year’s coveted top spot.  Needless to say, it didn’t win, but still… a burger recognized as great in a state where cows are more populous than people has got to be good, right?

A tradition that my boys and I have is to go camping for a night somewhere local to give the wife a night with the house to herself.  We haven’t been able to do this for the last couple of years, but this year we just made it happen.  We planned on camping at a local campground on Friday night, cooking out that night.  Then, our big plan was to go to The Union for lunch the following day to try us one of these Diet Burgers.  I’m a big burger fan and am at a loss for anything other than chain and fast food burgers around these parts.   I haven’t had any burgers locally that have made me say to myself, “Wow, beef really is better in Nebraska.”

At first, my boys were a little hesitant going to a “bar” for lunch, but I had them so psyched up to try one of these burgers that I think it could have been served in an alley on East Overland and they would have been willing to go.  See, the Diet Burger is supposed to be a pound of beef and a pound of bacon mushed between two grilled cheese sandwiches.  Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, right?  Sounded like the perfect thing to split with the boys on the one “cheat day” I allow myself away from my stinking diet.

So, the boys and I camp Friday night.  We have a good time.  We do a little geocaching, we play with our new puppy (who joined us on our trip), we ate some campfire stuff, we played us a little UNO, and we talked about how cool eating that Diet Burger was going to be.  The next day, we pack up camp and head to The Union to top-off our adventure.

Now I was especially excited.  I have a lot of people who know me who complain that I never write about anything positive in this here blog.  They say stuff like, “Why can’t you focus on the positive” and “There are lots of good things around here to write about.”  So, I’m excited that I am finally going to be able to write about something in a positive light in the good old panhandle of Nebraska.   I’ve never actually seen one of these Diet Burgers, but I was imagining a monstrosity of meat and cheese just oozing with goodness.  I couldn’t wait to get a picture or two of the behemoth and attach them to my stellar review of the burger.  I haven’t been this excited about much of anything in the panhandle of Nebraska since… well… ever.

The boys and I stroll into The Union and take a small table by the front window.  Our waitress is a cute little blond gal with short shorts and a pleasant smile.  “What can I get you guys?” she asks.

I don’t even hesitate.  “We’ll take a Diet Burger,” I say, my mouth already starting to collect drool with which to help the feast of beef and pork that I am soon going to be devouring slide down my gullet.

The waitress got kind of a wrinkly look on her face and said “Oooh,” and I knew my dreams were about to come crashing down around me in small piles that somehow resembled mutilated unicorns.

“We don’t serve those on Saturdays.”

Suddenly, with her face all scrunched up, little blondie with the short shorts wasn’t so cute anymore.

She points to a little list of like 10 bar-food-type appetizer items.  “This is our Saturday menu.”

“Well…” I start, looking at both of my boys who, like me, are visibly fighting the onslaught of tears on the verge of exploding from their eyes, “… we really wanted the Diet Burger.”

“Sorry,” says blondie.

“Okay,” I said as I started to get up from the table.  “I guess we’ll go somewhere else.”

The boys and I got up and, stepping around the small piles of blood and unicorn guts, made our way out of The Union.  “Gering sucks,” I said to the boys as we climbed back into our car.  “You know, if Gering would merge with Scottsbluff, The stupid Union would serve Diet Burgers on Saturday.”

See, now I will never have a Diet Burger.  The Union pissed me off, and the ability to forgive isn’t my strongest trait.  It is completely within The Union’s rights as a small business in the USA to serve what they want when they want.  Maybe the Saturday lunch crowd (which may not exist… there were like two drunk dudes sitting at the bar — and that’s it — while we were there at right after noon) doesn’t deserve this “famous” local treat.  The Diet Burger is no longer “famous” to me… it’s dead. See, I also have rights… like the right to never set foot in there again.

We drove into Scottsbluff and went to the Original Submarine Sandwich Shop located in Route 66 Mart.  We got some 4″ subs, which are served on Saturdays, and although they weren’t as flavorful as I’m sure the Diet Burger would have been, they were seasoned with the extra saltiness of our tears…

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Jun 03

Have you ever tried to lose weight?  I have, but  I love the taste of good food too much and I despise anything that makes me too sweaty.  Needless to say, the loss of weight has never been easy for me.  Why is it that all of the goals that have a positive impact on your life are so stinking hard and take so much stinking work?  Every… single… one.  Being a good parent is hard and takes work.  Relationships are hard and take work.  Making money is hard and takes work.  Just getting through an average day isn’t exactly a walk in the park.  And being healthy is absolutely sucktastic.

Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”  Why exactly in the hell do we quote this man?   If your life is full of effort, pain, and difficulty, you are to be envied.  What is the purpose of living a life like this?  What joy can be found in a life like this?  I guess if the effort, pain, and difficulty result in some sort of reward, there is a silver lining.  Silver is overrated.  I want my lining to be gold.

Life would be so much easier if you could just eat whatever you wanted with no negative consequences.  Why isn’t life like that?  Why does everything that tastes good have to be bad for you?  Why can’t turnips cause cancer and aged cheddar cheese lower your cholesterol?

There is going to be some healthy jerk who reads this and thinks something like, “Oh, nothing tastes better than fresh arugula sautéed in olive oil with organic pine nuts and a touch of sea salt!”  This person has never tasted bacon.

There are those who say that our bodies crave “junk” (i.e. good food) because that is what they are used to eating.  If we would just change our habits, we would come to love the taste of fresh greens and other low fat crap which are really what our bodies crave… our bodies just don’t know it.

… uh, sure…

Then why did almost all native people risk their lives in the pursuit of wild game?  I’m sure there were all kinds of leafy greens that could have been gathered with minimal risk of death.  They wanted meat!  They wanted roasted meat and charred meat and raw meat.  They wanted to bite into the still beating heart of their latest kill!

“The fat of the land” refers to the best part of something… because fat rules!  I don’t remember reading anywhere in the Bible, “And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the brussel sprouts of the field.”

And then there is the whole “eating in moderation” train of thought.  Eating in moderation is all good and well if you don’t mind walking around hungry all of the flipping time.  I hate being hungry.

Of course the whole secret to losing weight is taking in less calories than you burn.  Exercise helps burn calories.  So, in theory, if I could just exercise all of the time, I could probably eat whatever I wanted.  But I can’t exercise all of the time.  First of all, exercise sucks.  It’s hard and it makes me tired.  Second of all, even if exercise didn’t suck, there is no way I can do it all of the time.  Why?  Because I have to work a job to make the money to buy the food to put in my mouth to intake the calories that need to be burned by the exercise that lay in the house that Jack built… or something like that.

Needless to say, I’m trying to lose weight.  At a mere 5’7″, 200 pounds puts me on the verge of obesity.  Once I can actually call myself obese, I am left with no choice but to pitch a tent in the sporting goods department and live out the rest of my life at the local Walmart.  I don’t want to live in Walmart, thus the weight loss regimen.  I’ve been “dieting” for almost a month.  The pounds are very, very, very slowly coming off.  I track my caloric intake, I track the calories burned through exercise, and I constantly crave a bacon double cheeseburger.  Losing weight sucks…   and I wrote “pitch a tent”… heh heh heh…

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