Friday, December 27, 2013

158. Realizing the Glory of the Sandwich

"What is that?" I asked, confused, looking at the lumpy, misshapen ball of aluminum foil that Grim had just pulled out of his pack. We were sitting on some rock somewhere in Virginia.

"This..." he breathed deeply, "This is a liverwurst sandwich."

I wrinkled my nose at the liverwurst, which looked like a fluffy pinkish-brown meat sponge but then... I was drawn in to the idea of a sandwich like a floppy disc being thrown into a black hole. All intellectual thought was broken apart and whisked away, and all that was left was heat. The heat of desire for two pieces of bread with stuff in the middle. It was my first experience of sandwich entropy. 

"How?! How did you get a sandwich?!" 

"I bought it this morning when we were in town before we hitched back out to the trail. I got it just for lunch today, because it won't last any longer than that. It's pretty squished, but it's going to be delicious."

I watched him unwrap the soggy, flattened sandwich with my mouth wide open. I probably looked like a half-stupid goldfish, struck dumb by what I was witnessing. The image of him stuffing it into his mouth was simultaneously the most beautiful and the most disgusting thing that I'd ever seen in my entire life. He just looked so perfectly happy. His eyes rolled back in his head and he made that "MMMMmmpphh" sound that only escapes involuntarily from someone experiencing something truly transcendent.

Somehow over the course of the first 3 months on the trail, it had never occurred to me that I could buy just one ridiculously heavy or non-preservable food item before I left a town and just eat it that day. I have no idea how this never crossed my mind. I have a master's degree and everything. They just don't teach you the things you'll actually need to know. Like how to fix a flat tire or how to figure out ways to eat 4,000 calories of bread and cheese in one sitting when you're stuck in the woods. Where's THAT math word problem?!

Something about the idea of a sandwich was so perfect because it was otherwise so unattainable. There was no way we could ever carry bread and sandwich fixings. We would sometimes carry flattened bagels and tuna fish packets, but it always lacked the spark of something with, I dunno, flavor? Later on we got creative with carrying avocados and spreading those into our tuna, but it was still never quite as good as a real deli sandwich. 

And so it was that we all got into the habit of getting one perfect sandwich to place gingerly in the top of our packs before we left town. Sometimes when the moment would come to eat the sandwich, it would have exploded everywhere, mayonnaise staining our packs like blood staining the ground after a terrible war. The victim of a sandwich explosion would always eat it anyway. It was too precious. And the joy factor would be none diminished.

I asked Whistle what she had to say about sandwiches, and all she said was "Sandwiches = LOVE."

Forget giving your girlfriend roses on Valentine's Day. You have to give her a sandwich. It's a much more practical, realistic and romantic gesture of true love. Here is why:

1. There are a bunch of different parts, different qualities that work together to create something amazing. Roses are all just a bunch of the same thing! What are you trying to say, that your girlfriend is monotonous?!

2. Because the ingredients are never perfectly laid out inside a sandwich, each moment has a slightly different flavor or experience, but it's still exactly what you want. 

3. Even when it's a little over toasted, and things get a little hard, it's always worth the extra work.

4. A sandwich never dies. Roses just wilt and turn brittle and brown. But if you leave a sandwich for long enough, it starts growing things! Just like mold will slowly take over the entire sandwich and plate, your love will grow and spread across the world.

5. There's no such thing as a ruined sandwich, just like even after a big fight, all the good stuff is still there. It just gets kinda smushed, and all the toppings might spill out and be all over the place, and maybe it's kinda messy sometimes and not perfectly put together. But then you really gotta work for it, and you appreciate it so much more.

6. A sandwich is practical and yet adventurous. They all carry the same basic lay-out, but can be so dramatically different. When you find your soul mate sandwich, nothing can bring you down.

7. Roses have thorns! Sandwiches have cheese! YOU DO THE MATH.

Clever Girl


  1. It always amazed us how a bologna and cheese sandwich with horseradish made hikers so happy. Now I see it was the white bread.

  2. I've not come across many people who can write an ode to a sandwich so well, much less turn it into a love story...

    Speaking of cheese, thanks for the handcrafted board! HNY!

    Uncle John