Pique'n yer interest 

The Burger Man's Burden

This helicopter, my chariot to fields far flung. This portable broiler, my tank in lands left savage. This battery of cameras, my agents of posterity — because it’s important first to record, then to broadcast. It’s crucial to go viral, to get the word out. That’s how we sell, how we expand. Flagpoles, man. Flagpoles.

And oh yes, Mr. Kipling, I will fill full with meat the mouth of famine, will suss it out whether asleep on sunny beaches, huddled on windswept tundra, or hidden beneath a stupid looking hat.

I am not the Golden Arches, no, for they are substandard, not gilded, only plated, a cruel trick on burger glory spearheaded by a humourless clown and his band of fattened crazies. Rather, I am the Crown, laden with grease, and heavy hang the heads I so majestically adorn. Heavy indeed, for my responsibilities are many.

Opines my art director: “You can never really get an entirely pure taste test from a group of Americans because they’ve been exposed to so much marketing and burger culture.”

Says some douche bag in a ball cap, with a little gray goatee, waxing right deep on the street corner: “The hamburger is a culinary culture. It’s an American phenomenon.”

Whopper virgins of Romania, of Thailand and Greenland, we of the first world need to know: Which do you prefer? Is it the Whopper, or the Big Mac?

To Budesti, Romania, where the windows of eligible brides are labelled with dolls, where one womb bore fame in violist circles, where they eat weird garbage like borscht, like iskembe and sour soup.

They know not the pleasure of the burger, of sleeves rumpled around elbows, of the sigh of meat sliding across ketchup, of mayonnaise slathered on lapels, of dabbing a young one’s snotty lips and distracting him with a cheap toy. Makes my crown shine, all that.

But first, see them fumble, these ridiculous Romanians, as they attempt to grip the mighty and brazen burger, that undying icon of Americana. See them tear at the bun, mishandle the form and cower the potential of a palate overwhelmed. So much learning, so many people — my work is never done.

“It took a while for them to understand it,” explains a crew member, just throwing down insights like Zeus does lightning bolts. “The dynamics of it are, like, so completely foreign to these cavemen. They must adore us.”

And on to Thailand, with SUVs, to the mountainous regions inhabited by the Hmong, to their travesty of gestation, their clothes of cotton and hemp, all their tireless and tiresome needlework. It’s just another flagpole. One in a million, really.

Next to Greenland, land of the seal-feasting native, purview of the Danes (with the gift, of course, of self-governance), home to cold and ice, to sleighs and dog teams.

A man comes up to us, perhaps lured by his nose. He cuts an uncertain posture, concern and confusion writ massive in his every mannerism. A crewmember produces a Whopper, and the packaging crinkles in the cold as if the whispers of modernity. The man eats.

“Do you like it better than seal meat?” asks a crewmember.

The man looks confused, maybe even aghast. Of course he likes it better. But dumb pride prevents him from saying as much: “No,” he stammers. “I prefer seal meat.”

But he’s an anomaly, too old to embrace the new, too antiquated to understand a drive-thru, probably, even, to drive. Of course, there are others in his village, and they know an opportunity when they see it.

They say English spreads like a virus. They say entertainment is the new imperial army, comes with laughter and popcorn.

I say otherwise. I say hail to the king, baby. I say the rivers of grease are thundering towards every corner of the uncivilized world. And on the banks of those rivers, a burger joint. A million burger joints. More.

See? It’s simple. Check out the mantra: My diet is your desire. Meat, my bullets cuddling. Onions, your shackles sautéed. Tomatoes and lettuce, your future piled so high. Oh my, and this sesame seed bun, big and yellow, like an unsetting sun.

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