1762 E 18th St
Cleveland, OH 44114
by Beau Cadiyo
When I was in the eighth grade my father decided that it would be a good idea if he got me a book of dirty jokes. Even at 13, I was struck at the stupidity of some of the jokes, even in the golden age of Beavis and Butthead farting their way through America. One particularly stupid joke that has stuck with me all these years involves two old men sitting in a park debating about whether it's better to have a really satisfying shit or an orgasm. They see a prostitute that they're both acquainted with, and one suggests that they ask her. "No use," the other man says, "She's had more experience with one than the other!" In my pubescent haze of hormones, it was clear to me that an orgasm of any kind beat sitting on the toilet and smelling yesterday’s groceries.
I’ve been thinking of that joke recently because my dumps have been really unsatisfying. I've been eating a lot of salad and chicken-vegetable soup, occasionally with bread rolls from La Mexicana, and I would have expected this diet to leave as easily as it came in. Regardless, when I sit down on the toilet, it feels like I'm pushing icing out of an icing bag, and I'm never sure when I'm done. Tea and coffee don't help, nor do healthy doses of rice and beans or fruit.
Luckily for me, I met Frank McGarvey at a mixer, and he and his friends invited me to Becky's. (Full disclosure: he is the owner’s son.) I had trouble finding it, as there wasn’t a neon sign on the front or people loitering around outside. Parking was tight, too, which struck me as odd in an area which otherwise looked abandoned. I walked in behind a shorter, older, homeless-looking man, and we both went to the bathrooms in the back. As soon as he entered, he warmly greeted a much younger man in a suit, as if they were drinking buddies, and they chatted awkwardly as men peeing are wont to do.
Back out in the dark bar, work groups conversed around big tables, students laughed and sang along with the jukebox, cops wandered in and shook hands with patrons, a couple on an early date gazed at each other across a table and this writer viewed the scene with bemusement. It felt like a perfect island bar, sans tiki torches: dark yet light. It was helped by the old, original wooden bar, scarred from years of service, and eclectic decorations; one of the bartenders works in theater doing sets, and she brings in bits and pieces from old plays.
Frank McGarvey walked in from the street to join me, and shook twenty hands before we ordered. I got the Becky Burger with Muenster cheese; he ordered chicken tenders, potato skins, sauces and a sirloin steak sandwich for himself.
The chicken tenders were tender, with a hard crust the likes of which I’d never had before. The potato skins were made fresh and had real cheddar, which formed oily pools, and bits of bacon, as if they’d been made by someone’s mother for a high-school study session. The scooped-out potato parts were also cooked and served as half-chips, half-fries, which were amazing in the jerk sauce.
Then I started on the curly fries. It’s been a while since I had curly fries; the last time I can definitely say I had them was when, that eighth-grade summer, my mom dropped Frank Wilcox and me off at the Parkway Plaza mall to meet some girls near the food court. These were similarly amazing, but instead of being seasoned with a newfound freedom, they were washed down with delicious beer.
When I first picked the burger up, I said, “Woaholy shit.” In my hands it was bigger than it looked on the plate, and dense, and just plain heavy. While other places put a square of cheese on top, Becky’s places a giant slice on and melts it so that the cheese completely encompasses the patty like a protective layer. The meat was cooked to a perfect medium; the lettuce was crisp, the tomato cold, the onions pungent and sharp, and the jerk sauce, which I dripped onto the meat, was spicy and tangy and salty and delicious. “You need to bottle this,” said Frank Gasparos about the sauce, and Frank Mcgarvey said that they were thinking about selling it at the West Side Market.
What they shouldn’t do is sell the building, which CSU keeps trying to buy. CSU probably wants to use it for development, or raze it and put in a parking lot. Instead, CSU should buy the land around it and then build a U-shaped graduate student dorm around Becky’s. Students will have a friendly, safe place to go, and Becky’s will do even more business. Maybe CSU can think of the social life of its students and put in a few other bars or restaurants, to help the area thrive and turn it into a social hub – the kind a college close to a major metropolitan area should have. A parking lot, or admin buildings abandoned at night, would only contribute to the decline of the area; it’s already virtually dead as it is, and somehow Becky’s is still doing well. The tented field across the street doesn’t help.
I walked out at 8:40 p.m.; everyone that I’d seen when I came in was still there, at the tables or bars, and it looked like more people had joined them. I drove home, content, and found Frank Hoxha waiting for me at my house; she really likes it when my breath has the primal odor of charred meat and/or alcohol.
The next morning, I shat, and realized that Becky’s had made it glorious. Comparing the two at my age, I still prefer orgasms; however, while my morning excretion wasn't better than those of the previous evening, it was pretty damn satisfying, and that goes for Becky’s itself. We'll see how I feel when I'm sixty.