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Life as We Know It: February 18, 2013

          Friends who know me well understand that my search for the perfect cheeseburger is a personal odyssey. A few times over the years I thought I had found it, but something wasn’t quite right. It might have been the meat; it could have been the bun, the sauce, or even the presentation. So the quest continued.

          It can be a lonely journey, especially when everybody at the table is ordering something fancy like orange roughy or pasta primavera and I blurt out what they know is coming: “The cheeseburger please, a little past medium.”

          You might as well ask two foxes and one chicken to vote on what’s for dinner. I mean, until recently I thought catsup was one of the four basic food groups.

          Because I’m a Parrothead (that’s a Jimmy Buffett fan for those who have no idea where Margaritaville is), my crusade to find the perfect burger at least springs from noble intentions.

          We’ve visited most of Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants, from Las Vegas to Key West, from Orlando to New Orleans, from Phoenix to Negril, Jamaica. Given that one of Buffett’s signature songs is “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” we naturally assumed he had created the ultimate burger. But good as it is, it falls a little short of “heaven on earth with an onion slice,” as the song claims. If I can duplicate it at home, it is not the world’s perfect burger.

          I’ve even traveled to places that claim to be the very spot where Buffett wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” One of them is a little open-air joint on Cabbage Key just off Ft. Myers, Fla. The burger’s good but the boat ride over is better, especially when the dolphins are in a playful mood.

          Another place that claims to have birthed the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is Le Select, which unfortunately sits on the priciest island in the Caribbean, St. Bart’s. Buffett visits a lot, so maybe he did write it there. I can’t afford to go and check it out.

          Still, I push on, looking for perfection. Despite the risk of clogged arteries, I figure the quest helps keep me alive. That, and the Lipitor.

          After all, “healthy” is simply the slowest rate at which a person can die.

          So my dream lives on. One day I will find the perfect burger, no doubt at a most unlikely place. When it happens, I know I will cry. It will be like stumbling across a Renoir at a flea market. Only better. You can’t eat a Renoir.

          In the meantime, I’m reminded of an old song parody sung to the tune of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

          Sing it with me. One verse goes like this:


          “Somewhere, overweight people

          Have a ball.

          In a land where they never

          Heard of cholesterol.

          Somewhere, over-indulging

          Is so divine.

          If their waistline’s not bulging,

          Why then oh why is mine?”


          Amen, brother. And yes, I would like fries with that.