I think I’m in love.
After one-hundred-and-fifteen years of tinkering, fiddling, and experimentation has culminated in this plate of grass-fed goodness sitting between Beatrice and me (we’re sharing). Containing the ideal ratio of sauce to bun to beef with a wonderful fringe of fresh groceries (lettuce, tomato & onion), this burger is perfect in every particular.
Taking another bite, I closed my eyes, recalling a fun little factoid Wood and I discovered in fifth grade – which blew our minds.
Did you know the hamburger didn’t gain widespread popularity in the U.S. until the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair? On its own, this doesn’t sound startling. But combined with our family history unit? We couldn’t believe our eyes.
Born between 1888 and 1902, our great-grandparent’s childhood plates might possibly, have been bereft of our favorite dinnertime staple.
Staring stupidly at the numbers written in our own hand, we turned tail and ran to Wood’s Gran, who didn’t laugh at our horror (though looking back she was probably tempted). Unable to verify our deductions, as she’d never gotten into an in-depth discussion of burgers with her mother, she did disclose an even more shocking piece of information.
She hadn’t tasted her first McDonald’s cheeseburger until her thirty-fifth birthday. His Gran then went on to admit she grew up in a world without Ronald McDonald, Grimace, The Hamburglar, and Mayor McCheese. Minds blown his Gran gave us both a cookie and told us not to worry – she’d eaten enough cheeseburgers since to make up for her McDonald’s-less childhood.
Smiling at the shadow of my past flabbergast, I reopened my eyes just in time to keep our mound of napkins from sailing across the lawn on the brisk breeze snatching at my hair. Beatrice, in her own burger induced thrall, chewed on obliviously.
Perhaps a bit brisk for alfresco dining, I’d still chosen a picnic table outside, due to the subtle funk still clinging tenaciously to me. Despite using an entire tube of wet wipes and changing into my spare uniform (extras of I stashed in the Princess after the Tomato Soup Incident), I couldn’t entirely shake the unique scent of Muck Duck Pond.
On the upside, my new swampy perfume put the Von Haeville sisters and Mr. Ottoman off from joining us for lunch, they’d gotten their orders to go. (Mr. John Dupree took a different road home and missed out on this piece of ambrosia.)
Me (finally feeling human again, we continued our discussion from the Princess): “Did you find what they were looking for?”
Beatrice (dipping a fry in ketchup): “Yes, tucked under a loose floorboard in the master bedroom. Pretty standard hiding place really, not sure why they didn’t find it themselves…Did she really lock you out?”
Having just taken a bite of my burger, all I could do was nod.
Beatrice (licking salt off her fingers and moving on): “Did you find the family plot?”
Me (swallowing): “Yes, and completed an informal study for the Rye Historical Society. If it’s not already in the national registry, they’ll list it and request permission to complete a formal survey.”
(BTW – finishing my infernal ‘informal study’ led directly to my besmirching. After Ina Von Haeville set off to find IT, I lagged behind recording the last three markers on my map. When I finally scrambled through the hedge after her, she was so far ahead that I had to follow her line to keep her in sight – right through Much Duck Pond.)
Beatrice (grinning): “That will put a bee in the sister’s bonnets.”
Beatrice: “From what Dupree gleaned, they haven’t disclosed the cemetery’s existence to their buyers…”
Me (wry smile curving my lips): “That’ll even the score for making me clean up outside. The Historical Society will make sure the buyers know about it.”
(Yes, they made me walk around the house and clean up in the Princess. The Elder Von Haeville sister staunchly refused to allow me to walk thru the house. When Beatrice wondered aloud why it mattered, as the maid hadn’t mopped up in years, the two really started taking verbal swings at each other. They only stopped when I stepped in and relented to the Elder’s request. Figuring that giving an eyeful to the local fauna, while changing, a small price to pay for keeping my secret, secret.)
Finishing up our shared lunch (and dropping a few loose fries on the ground for the house sparrows hopping about our feet), we headed to the Princess. Where I finally mustered up the courage to broach my million dollar question with Beatrice.
Me (occupying my hands with starting the Princess): “How well do you know Ms. Crab-Apple Hettie?”
Beatrice (wearing a Mona Lisa smile): “Why?”
Me (hedging): “The night we dressed as pirates and planted rubber ducks in Nevermore, do you think she’s the one who warned Little Ben we were coming?”
Beatrice (without hesitating): “No.”
Me (grabbing my milkshake for a sip): “Are you sure?”
Beatrice (eyes twinkling sporting a wide Cheshire grin): “Pretty sure, she’s my Great Aunt.”
Wait?! What?!!? Crap!!!!! Crapity, Crap, Crap Crap!!!!