Print Story The Golden Cheeseburger
By CheeseburgerBrown (Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:44:49 AM EST) rolloffle (all tags)
The Caribbean hurricane season is done for another year, so my step-father flew down to put his boat back in the water. He brought my mother. My mother brought her friend, so that she'd have somebody to pal around with during the boring parts.

In the course of this adventurette they managed to spend $120 on cheeseburgers.

Beurre d'Arachide keeps his boat on the divided island of Saint Martin / Sint Maarten in the Lesser Antilles, a land one half a non-contiguous patch of the Netherlands and one half a non-contiguous patch of Guadeloupe (which is itself a non-contiguous patch of France). All of the roofs are red.

The island maintains a certain charm anchored by the particular way in which French haute couture is kept pegged to Earth by Dutch groundedness. The same cannot be said for the exclusive isle of St. Barthelemy to the south-west where the Frenchness runs unchecked. It was on Saint Bart's, as it is called, that my mother and her friend found themselves seeking divertisement on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The cafe at the boat-yard where Beurre d'Arachide was mucking about presented scant entertainment, so Popcorn and Dunaway decided to call a taxi to run them inland to the ex-Swedish town of Gustavia. "Taxi? Non," said the raisin-faced white man at the cafe. "Today is the Sunday. But to Gustavia it is not far, the walking."

Not as the crow flies, perhaps.

It was a twenty kilometer hike up and down the island's central volcano, and while the ladies were no couch potatoes they found themselves fairly exhausted by the time they reached their destination. The town was quaint but dead. This was a pious land, a Catholic land, a land where He-who-must-not-be-named is Harry Potter as often as Frodo Baggins, heroes of damned witchcraft and magicks most perverse, mascots for the wrong mythologies. And so the Sabbath was kept, and the hot world admitted no work.

Church bells tolled, echoing down the empty cobblestone streets. Since the island features no black people, there wasn't even anyone around to try to sell them trinkets and kipple.

At long last they came upon the local branch office of songster Jimmy Buffet's restaurant network, Cheeseburger In Paradise, known to me lo these few years for using their Black Hat SEO voodoo to keep me from claiming the #1 result in Google for the search term cheeseburger with my Web-famous essay Death By Cheeseburger.

Apparently Buffet bows before Satan, because the joint was open.

It was an open-air terrace with cafeteria-style seating. Customers were invited to step up to one aperture in the wall to receive their burgers and chips, and then a second aperture to receive soda-pop or milkshakes. Popcorn and Dunaway each requested a cheeseburger, a basket of chips, and a drink.

"Hokay, bien," said the tanned Frenchman behind the counter. "Zhe totale she is fifty Heuro."

Popcorn, still fuzzy on the conversion between Euros and our proud Canadian Tire money, handed over some bills while stepping back to take in the prices posted on the menu with renewed scrutiny. She was about to open her mouth when the Frenchman beat her to the punch and confirmed the terrible truth by prompting Dunaway for her fifty.

The burgers and chips are fifty Euros each. That's two ladies lunching for about one hundred and twenty US greenbacks...self-serve.

Popcorn reported that her burger was "okay."

After the second 20 kilometre leg of their jaunt about St. Bart's they collapsed gratefully into the shady cabin of the Prairie Fox and grabbed bottled water out of the little refrigerator. "How was Gustavia?" asked Beurre d'Arachide, sunburnt and covered in motor grease.

They told him. He laughed, and so did Mademoiselle J's father from further down in the engine compartment. (You may or may not recall that Mlle. J was the Swiss girl who served as a nanny and au pair at our old schoolhouse this past summer.) He popped his head up to say that he used to fix the boat that ran restaurant supplies out to various points on St. Bart's from the airport on St. Martin.

On St. Martin the same meat and potatoes cost five Euros. From the same package, cooked with the same oil: five Euros.

"So what's with the crazy mark-up?" Dunaway wanted to know.

Mlle. J's father shrugged. "St. Bart's is zhe Nice of zhe Antilles. All zhe population is rich. Zhey hexpect superior prices, so zat's what zhey get."

So there you go.

If you're rich and you're reading this the lesson should be clear: your sixty dollar cheeseburgers are not in any way different from those shovelled to the mere mortals on saner islands. Your demand for "the best" had optimized the vultures around you, and even Jimmy Buffet will swindle you if you thinks you're self-important enough to swallow it.

If you're not rich and you're reading this the lesson is equally clear: when hoofing it among champagne wishes and caviar dreams, bring a packed lunch.

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The Golden Cheeseburger | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)
VS2FP by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:51:59 AM EST

Wonderful. Poking fun at the French even when they aren't French. I love it.

I'm also conducting an experiment.

The French Are Funny by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 2) #2 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:59:19 AM EST
I know too many of them to deny it. Frenchness is like The Matrix -- you have to experience it to really know it. But once you know what it is you see how delightful it can be.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
No matter how rich I am... by Alice Pulley (4.00 / 4) #3 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 06:59:22 AM EST
...I will never spend $120 on less than 50 or so cheeseburgers.


'But they're adults and perfectly capable of working it out themselves. And if not, well, fuck em.' - Nebbish '06.

That's Sage Advice. by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 3) #4 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 07:01:16 AM EST
I recommend inscribing it into a stone tablet and presenting it unto the people of the world.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
[ Parent ]
Didn't some guy already do that? by Alice Pulley (4.00 / 2) #5 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 07:08:09 AM EST
I know there was something about meat in there somewhere:

'Thou shalt not covert thy neighbours ox; not unless it be divided by 2 score and 10, placed betwixt golden buns and topped with delicious cheddar cheese'.

Thats how I read it, anyway.


'But they're adults and perfectly capable of working it out themselves. And if not, well, fuck em.' - Nebbish '06.

[ Parent ]
This Will Be the Dumbest Comment You Get Today by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 08:17:21 AM EST
But this is a singularly beautiful sentence:

"And so the Sabbath was kept, and the hot world admitted no work."

I bow to your superior writing kung-fu.

50 euros each? by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 10:17:01 AM EST
that's incredible.

i mean, i've seen burgers for USD$12. in fancy sit down restaurants in expensive parts of town.

But Euro$50?

holy fucking shit.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

Other possible lesson for rich people by notafurry (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 10:42:21 AM EST
"If you don't want to be surrounded by tourists, trinket-sellers, and other masses of unwashed poor, charge $60 for a cheeseburger."

St. Bart's is indeed a very expensive place, not very welcoming to tourists, and unlike most of the islands, not overrun with ticky-tacky tourist crap. There may be a connection.

I've eaten $30 cheeseburgers. by komet (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 02:25:40 PM EST
They came with a gigantic bun, two giant meat patties, heaps of green salad, bacon, tomatoes, corn, and a basket of potato wedges. It was impossible to eat as a sandwich and was basically a dish with the ingredients on it.

But $60? I bet those are also served with a bad attitude.

<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

I would have given it back by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 12:57:11 AM EST
with a "No thanks". Did it in a London pub once after being charged a fiver for a pint. Prices like that need large warnings.

It's political correctness gone mad!

$80 Ice Cream by duxup (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Dec 08, 2005 at 11:42:30 AM EST
I was traveling with my family a while ago and we were in Italy.  Not yet having eaten a real Italian pizza or gelato we had a free afternoon and sought out the appropriate food.   We found a pizza place that was out of the way and full of locals.  Translation: outstanding Italian pizza, good price, great people. 

Then we headed back to the more popular tourist area since my sister wanted to pickup a painting she saw there.  After buying the painting mom pointed out a great place to eat gelato.   I noted:

Mom, look how the waiter is dressed, note how the restraint looks, the food being served there, the people eating there.  This is going to be expensive.

Mother responded.

If we’re going to have gelato in Italy we may as well sit outside and enjoy it for once.  I might never be in Italy again.

The three of us sat down, were promptly served by a very nice waiter and each got a different type of gelato in large chilled silver dishes.  The waiter insisted we each get three spoons so that we didn’t mix up the gelatos.  Somehow that didn’t seem right but oh well.  The gelato was outstanding.

When we were done, my mother looked at the bill, did the translation a few times.  $80.  :O

To her credit she took it in stride and whispered. 

Well if I’m going to spend $80 on ice cream I’m at least going to use the bathroom.


The Golden Cheeseburger | 11 comments (11 topical, 0 hidden)