Wednesday, December 21, 2011


1776 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118-5226
(216) 321-4781

by Fidel Gastro

It is raining. It is raining so much that I don't dare go out. If it were a proper December I suppose it'd be snowing. Pedestrians – we're better suited to snow than rain – I know it's different for drivers but I know that the streets are plowed and the sidewalks are never shoveled so I have anger and class consciousness toward drivers.

So stay home and count your petty ducats! you say, and I respond by telling you angry things that you don't care to hear and soon we're not friends. So let's pretend that instead you said, with concern in your voice - well why do you need to go out so bad?

First. It is Christmastime and this Christmas I have made the acquaintance of the long walk to the long wait at the post office. I'm not the sort to hate. A lot of people will tell you that they have a sick-sick anger for the USPS but I think – someone sent me an important paper from across the world for $.44. I don't mind waiting in a line for a little while to get it. And also, if there was a crowd of people watching you do your job, they'd probably make fun of you too, jerk. Anyway, I'm not going to brave the roads today and suffer the gross indignity of being surfed by cars. It is a bad thing that happens.

Second. I can't go and get a sandwich. It's a rarity and a strange one, where The Sandwich is not preeminent in my world of earthly demands. But that is the nature of Christmas. Gifts first, Sandwiches second. On the matter of sandwiches, and on walking for that matter I have some words.

My love of sandwiches has governed my choices regarding where I will live. Because I prefer the constitutional savor of a brisk walk over the harried disruption of driving I have a smaller scope of available sandwiches. So I made certain to live in the midst of the greatest concentration of sandwich shops that I could find.

A strong man, a man only half as strong as me (and therefore pretty damned strong) could throw a stone and strike no fewer than seven sandwich shops.  Eight – if you count the Burrito as a sandwich, which I am told by Mr. Cadiyo, I shall not ever do. Nevertheless even in the narrow confine of sandwich definitions allowed me, I am up against an embarrassment of sandwiches. Now, I may some days savor the soupy vegetable cocktail added to the turkey of Dave's Cosmic, and I may sometimes humble myself before my fellow men and deign to eat a Panini. I might even steel my iron guts yet steelier for a sample of the Winking Lizard's barbecued fare. In desperation I may count pennies to afford the lettuce and mustard melange of the gas-station Subway. But on any day, regardless of circumstances, regardless – really, of consciousness – I find that I crave for the Hot Grumsteer.

Many arguments can be posed and settled only with fistfights over the superior merits of hot or cold sandwiches. I find that circumstances largely dictate my preference – but in general that a sandwich is sometimes aided by a modicum of fire, and sometimes hindered. But given the choice between the hot or the cold Grumsteer – you must choose the hot. All things being equal, the roast beef is made to come alive, is alchemically altered by the application of the 'sandwich herbs' that Grum's applies so judiciously. The cheese and the meat interweave into a massy substance that gives each vigorous bite its own tactile satisfaction, but in the midst of the occassional mushroom, the periodic onion – there is the lingering heavenly potence of the horse's aromatic radish. Like a medical tincture applied to the beast, the large Grumsteer solves your sinus complaints and salves your stomach's recurring wants. There is no sandwich that may better serve the wants and hungers of anyone, of everyone really, than the Hot Grumsteer.

Alas it is raining and I must test my sandwichmaking audacity with the spare contents of my cupboards. Is it a sandwich if you smear canned frosting over graham crackers and liberally apply shredded coconut? What about a congress of Nutella and marmalade between slabs of raisin toast? Will Sandwich Science™ ever be granted the opportunity for sleep? For rest? For the fundamental answers to necessary questions?

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