As a high school teacher, I am often requested to venture
above and beyond outside of the normal call of duty. A few years ago, one such situation manifested itself, and as a result I found that I had agreed to become the teacher adviser to a delegation of students that participates in a mock congress. For the majority of the school-year my duties are relatively unassuming; once a week I spend an extra hour in my classroom so interested students have a place to meet, discuss selected issues, and eat snacks. However, once a year (usually in mid-February), I find myself venturing south with a gaggle of delegates headed for Jantzen Beach.
For the uninitiated, Jantzen Beach is the eastern end of Hayden Island, the depressing little spit of land floating awkwardly in middle of the Colombia River between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Though it is technically part of Portland, the only immediately perceivable Portland-like characteristic is the burgeoning homeless population. No Voodoo Doughnuts. No craft beer. No Stumptown Coffee. Just the chronically dispossessed.
I can imagine the conversation between Oregon and Washington when they decided who would assume responsibility for this wonderland:
Washington: “That place sucks”
Fun Fact: The name ‘Jantzen Beach’ was actually the name of the amusement park – known as ‘The Coney Island of the West’ – which was located on Hayden Island until closing in 1970. That’s right, fun left in 1970.
While this is – perhaps – a less than ideal place to play the responsible adult to twenty or so privileged teens who all seem to be lacking the part of the brain that dictates social awareness, it does provide me with a single, annual indulgence.
Just kidding… although I bet it wouldn’t be too hard to score down there if push came to shove.
The real indulgence: The Burger King not 500 feet from the front doors of the majestic JBRL.
That’s right, Burger King. It’s my shitty food of choice.
Their product is a little meth-like though if you think about it. It’s really bad for you. It’s “cooked”. It’s an amalgamation of unidentified ingredients that you definitely shouldn’t ingest. Overexposure (any exposure?) will lead to the deterioration of your mind and body.
But I love it.
There’s just something about the Whopper – those meth-like qualities – that makes me want to come back for more, time and time again.
So I do. But only once a year, in lovely, lovely Jantzen Beach.
So let’s run through my horribly indulgent meal.
First, you know a meal is going to be “fresh” when in comes in a bag that can legally go no further than a simple inference that the contents have been freshly prepared. That’s what it is, really. An inference. A simple statement that allows your brain to make the connection between some perception of freshness and whatever is actually in the bag.
So let’s see how fresh it really is:
The problem with indulging once a year in Burger King is that I tend to over-order once I get in line. The horrible scents of crispy fries, flame-broiling and… whatever else are simply too much to resist. In this instance I walked out with fries, and three sandwiches:
1. The Big King
This floppy masterpiece is BK’s answer to the Big Mac.
At 510 calories, this sloppy combination of patties, “cheese”, lettuce, onions, pickles and “King sauce” (which is a sweet thousand-island style dressing) is a gut-buster on it’s own. I haven’t had a Big Mac recently enough to compare this emulation to the original, but from what I remember as a former frequent customer of Mickey-D’s, I can say that it’s pretty much the same thing.
2. The Original Chicken Sandwich
“So good, we’ve been serving it since 1979”
What I always find amusing about these sandwiches is the perception that a chicken sandwich, which is advertised as “lightly breaded” and filled with “premium white meat”, is somehow a healthier option just because it’s chicken. That shit just isn’t true. At 640 calories, this misshapen mayonnaise delivery system will add fat to your midsection faster than either of my other two choices. But I’m good with it. Not only did I get this in a 2 for $5 deal with the Big King, but there’s something about biting into this sandwich that reminds me of those chicken nuggets from the school cafeteria. That shouldn’t be a nostalgic wave that anyone wants to ride, but I was one of those fat kids that loved the heaping mound of stamped-out “chicken” that I got to slather with ketchup. What can I say? Processed food is sooooo tasty, but maybe it belongs back in 1979.
3. Whopper Jr.
My favorite. There’s just something about this sandwich that keeps me coming back. It’s the reason that Burger King is my “restaurant” of choice in these indulgent circumstances.
There it is… the Whopper Jr. Sure, it’s not much to look at, especially compared to it’s big brother, but this 300 calorie treasure is a miniature masterpiece. The sandwich is the perfect fast-food burger. It’s got the right amount of everything: beef, veggies and condiments. While bacon and cheese are options, I always decline, as the saltiness of either throws off the balance of flavors. Mmmmmm. Fatty perfection on a bun.
…and my inner fat kid rejoiced.
Did you have it your way?
Was it good for you?
Not in any way.
Did you really consume over 1500 calories in a single meal?
Did you feel like shit afterwards?
Oh, most definitely.
Did you learn your lesson?
Will it happen again?