Face-offs

Hawaiian cheeseburgers at Café Zazo after stocking up at Rainbow
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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS One day Clara de la Cooter would like to go to Ohio and play with my nieces and nephews. One day she would like to play soccer with me. And baseball. One day she wants to take the BART train. One day she would like to have pierced ears, and wear earrings, and ride a motorcycle. It's cute to hear her begin all these distant little longings with, "One day" ...

She's three years old.

"One day," she asked me the other day while I was making cheese-eggs for her and her little sister, Kate. "One day," she said, "can I wear Kate's head?"

My friends are all closet vegetarians, or in San Diego. Or Hawaii or Florida, for the week. Earl Butter has never quite recovered from the cleanse he went on. And here was a little girl who wanted to wear her sister's head! Which can't be a very healthy idea for either party, but you hate to discourage these things out of hand.

"Absolutely!" I said. "Of course you can one day wear Kate's head, Sweetie!"

I'm just kidding. I said, "It would be really, really hard to take someone's head off."

"Uh-huh," she said, looking up at me like she does when I'm explaining something important, all eyes and heart, and then for days and weeks and sometimes months afterward she repeats her little life lessons back at you, in the form of a question, by way of locking it in.

She'll surprise you with them. A million new adventurous and wonderful things have happened in the meantime, and then all of a sudden, between poaching plums from a neighbor's tree and sitting on a stone wall watching deer down below in the fog, she will turn to you and say, "It's really, really hard to take someone's head off?"

"That is correct," I say, and leave it at that. Later I'll explain some of the legal, ethical, and medical implications — like maybe when she's five. Telling a three- or four-year-old that her little sister might not like — let alone survive — a thing, only sweetens the trend toward experimentation.

Boink used to bonk his baby sister over the head with a hammer, until he turned five and — seemingly overnight — was able to grasp the concept of metaphor. We have more fun than ever now, and one day will own a restaurant together. And be in a band. We've already started a newspaper, which we sell to his mom for a nickel. I'm the food editor.

Speaking of which ... something about hamburgers ... oh yeah, Earl Butter still hasn't recovered from his cleanse. It's been months! For my birthday, he watched me eat buffalo wings. And that was in May! And he's from Utica!

He has a blog about pineapples, which is, if anything as good as his last blog, which was about tuna fish. Seriously, they are both the funniest blogs ever written, but he will not eat a burger with me. Earl Butter! Meanwhile, we have made butternut squash curry with wild rice, like, five times! (It's good, to put it mildly.)

I tried to trick him by inviting him to shop with me at Rainbow. Alice Shaw, the Person, told me about a new little burger place right behind the store, on 14th Street. I thought after we filled up my brother's van with quinoa and red lentils and shit, he'd get a little hungry for lunch and then ...

But no. He had work to do. He gave me his 20 percent off coupon and asked me to get him dried lima beans and whatever other kind of beans looked "fun."

I couldn't get Alice Shaw the Person, either, on short notice, so I ate my burger alone. I got the one with grilled pineapples on it, thinking maybe I'd start my own blog, by way of healthy competition. But I'm scared. Earl Butter's good.

But so is the Hawaiian cheeseburger at Café Zazo. Grilled onion, bacon, cheddar. Fresh cut fries.

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