Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pearl's: A Deluxe Craving

You know that feeling? When all you want to do is bite into a whopping slab of oozing hamburger meat, topped with crisp lettuce and tomato, perfectly ripe avocado, jack cheese, and a dollop of ranch or barbeque sauce, packed between two doughy sesame buns? With a heaping pile of seasoned steak fries on the side? I only get this feeling every once in a long while, but I get it. Kind of like how I crave a diet Pepsi once a year like clockwork. I can almost predict the date – no, the hour – that I’ll thirst for my next diet Pepsi. It’s spooky. Two nights ago, at about 10:30 p.m., the craving hit.

Ohmigod! I have to have a diet Pepsi right now!” I practically shouted to the world.

“Whaa?” Darren jolted upright from his horizontal position on our plush leather sofa. He had fallen asleep after a rousing episode of Sally Field’s Brothers & Sisters (my all-time favorite) and a witty installment of Entourage (his favorite; he says he will be Ari Gold someday, but I think he just wants a slap-happy assistant like Lloyd, whom he can force to lose 20 pounds or pick up dog poop in the middle of the night, just for fun).

“Didn’t you hear me? My mouth is going dry because I need a diet soda so badly! Gawd!” I gripped my throat theatrically and rolled my eyes as far back in my head as my sockets would allow, then began to sigh obnoxiously.

“Okay, okay,” Darren retorted. He had no other choice but to get out of the one-room apartment as fast as humanly possible, unless he wanted to be eaten alive. He’d seen this all before. Lucky for him, there’s a corner store below our studio, and within a minute of my childish outburst he was handing me a cold, 20-ounce bottle of diet Pepsi. And I was as sweet as an angel once again.

I usually tell myself, embrace these cravings, don’t suppress them. Go get what you want, girl, and your day will be so much better. This school of thought was in the forefront of my mind when my appetite for a burger crept up on me not too long ago. Darren was out of town on business, Alexa was in Portland visiting her family, and Maijken and Jason were busy planning their wedding. With no friends and nothing to do for an entire weekend, I suddenly became very lonely, and a burger sounded real darned good. So on Friday night at twilight, I walked the four blocks to Pearl’s Deluxe on Jones and Post Streets and ordered the most deluxe dish on the menu. I assume the confused cashier wondered what I’d do with this burger that was substantial enough to feed a sumo wrestler or a food-eating competitor. I’d eat it all, pal.

As I stood in the cramped burger joint waiting for my heart attack in a bag, I noticed vacationers dining with their families, holding their paper maps in the air and plotting tomorrow’s route (clearly they were lost and had wandered into the TL by mistake, poor things). Pools formed in my light brown eyes as I wondered what my own family was doing at that moment. I imagined my parents and sisters gathered in the dining room over a healthy, home-cooked meal, laughing and making jokes about nothing in particular, warm in their comfortable suburban home, where they didn’t have to worry about ambulance sirens interrupting their phone conversations or dog (or human) feces on the sidewalks. They could park their cars in a driveway (as opposed to a garage three blocks away) and hang out in a backyard – on grass, under tress – with unobstructed views of the sky, which the Bank of America and Transamerica buildings denied us city-dwellers.

“Meghan!” a line cook wearing a red-and-white striped shirt and a paper hat called my name and number, and I held back tears while I grabbed my grease-stained bag from him. “See you next time!” he yelled in a thick, Spanish accent as I turned for the door.

I’d recommend Pearl’s Deluxe anytime you’re down in the dumps or as hungry as a sumo wrestler. I don’t think I ate once the next day.

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