Thursday, October 05, 2006

Misadventures on the Metro

chapter 18
In the grand scheme of life, few things compare with the simple joy of a grilled cheese sandwich. The recipe isn’t complicated; there’s what, like four ingredients—at the most? Even if you’re trying to go all Emeril Lagasse Bam! (ie: gruyere cheese, tomatoes, Texas toast), the fact remains: anyone can make one. And cheese + bread + grilled = delicious.

During college one of my favorite pastimes was listening to my wonderfully boisterous friend recount stories about her autistic brother and his escapades. Even with tales of church guests and unanticipated nudity, an obsession with blue food (not blueberries, rather blue soda, blue ketchup, etc.) and Megaman toys from Japan, my all-time favorite involved—you guessed it—a grilled cheese sandwich.

As the story goes, my friend’s brother, like me, appreciated the tastiness of a grilled cheese sandwich from time to time, although technically, his might be called a microwave cheese sandwich. Essentially the sandwich construction was the same – two slices of bread, cheese (butter?). With all ingredients properly loaded into the micro, he’d set the time and return to his Nintendo game or Internet search while his meal cooked.

Here’s the thing — how long does a microwave cheese sandwich cook for anyway? One minute? Two? I’m guessing her brother did not consult a recipe before deciding to set the cook time for 30 minutes.

When the timer finally went off, said brother returned to the microwave to find his sandwich cooked down to a charbroiled pile of unrecognizable matter. I’m sure he was thinking, “Crap!” Apparently he was also thinking his sandwich had to get pretty hot to turn black and flaky. And there could be only one solution – insert burned microwave cheese sandwich up the refrigerator’s ice dispenser to cool it off.

End of story.

Well, almost end. The family would only discover the microwave-cheese-gone-bad instances when they tried to fill a glass with ice. Problem: when you live in Texas you need ice in every drink and charred sandwiches aren’t exactly flavorable additions to beverages.

Although I never actually witnessed the microwave chef-ery, I can imagine the smell. And the other day on the Metro, my mind instinctively identified a foreign smell and conjured up this story. Last time I checked, Metro trains were not equipped with microwaves OR ingredients for cheese sandwiches. And although you can smell food on the clothing of fellow Metro riders from time to time, I'm pretty sure this was not the source of the odor.

So I have a question: Is it natural for the train to smell of burnt grilled cheese sandwiches? Is this a campaign to reduce the number of people riding the Metro, because honestly, if I lived more than 8 stops away from the city, I don’t think I could have endured it. If that’s the case — kudos WMATA — your brilliant scheme is working.

Okay, that was two questions. But really, should a train, with its screeching rumblings down metal tracks, really emit this sort of odor? I guess I’ll wear my flame-retardant jacket tomorrow. Just in case.


Rachel said...

Finally!! John's made it big time!! HOORAY!

Dan said...

I think it's the brakes, because I've been smelling it too. As it is, brakes have a universal "smell of death" - something we don't usually smell on cars since there is air-a-plenty to courier the stench away. In the tunnels of the Metro, it's a different story. I can see how it might smell like a charcoaled grilled cheese. However, this speculation notwithstanding... did the smell make you hungry???

Chris and Becky Wickstrom said...

Actually the smell didn't exactly make me hungry, but writing about the smell did...mmmmmmmm...grilled cheese. I'm hungry again just thinking about it!

shaniqua said...

hahaha...nice story about the grilled cheese sandwich. it reminds me of one time when my brother wanted a microwaved boiled egg. so he put an egg in a metal pot and put it in the microwave. yeaaaaah, not his smartest idea.