July 26, 2013
Let’s Learn Religion: The Time I Ate Hamburger Helper, On Purpose

After the Noodle Roni expose of last week, in the interests of full disclosure, I felt that I should talk, briefly, yet not briefly enough, about the time I intentionally purchased, prepared, and consumed a Hamburger Helper “beef stroganoff” dinner.
 
In my defense, it was a time of great stress.  Sifu had embarked on a weekend fishing trip in the Catskills, several hours away.  He left early on Friday morning, before the sun had even come up, while I slumbered away.  I was sleeping with one eye open, because I had w*rk that day, and did not trust my alarm clock to rouse me if I fully succumbed to Morpheus. 
 
Imagine my surprise when it was not my alarm clock that wakened me, but the phone.  It was still very early, and the sun was just barely peeking over the Bronx.
 
"Hello?" said I.  This was before the days when it was most assuredly a confused high person, starving for pizza.
 
"Hello," said Sifu.  "Sorry to wake you.  I wrecked the truck."
 
Like I said, it was a stressful time.
 
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Sifu was fine, but the truck, which had slammed directly into the meaty, asshole body of a god damned mother fucking DEER, was not.  He was closer to his destination than to his starting point, so with $2,000 of damage to our vehicle, he determined to continue with his plan to enjoy his fishing trip.  We agreed that as long as the truck was safe to drive, he should have a good weekend and we’d think about the damage when he got back.  Which is exactly what happened.
 
Since I had been startled to a fully awake state by the phone call, I could not go back to sleep, and instead, turned on the local news. 
 
"A violent rapist is on the loose, and targeting women living alone in the Bronx!" chirped the goober on my screen.  The camera panned in with an establishing shot to set the scene, on…THE STREET SIGN FOR MY BLOCK.
 
I looked at the weinerdog, and envisioned our nighttime walk for the evening to come.  A violent rapist was probably on my block, and he probably knew Sifu was away.  He was in cahoots with the ass hole deer. 
 
Like I said, it was a stressful time.
 
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My j*b, at the time, was stressful EVERY day.  I w*rked in an office that managed residential properties in Manhattan, and not a day went by when somebody didn’t offer to come and pound my head into my neck for me if I didn’t make their neighbor stop breathing so loud, or the sun stop shining into their window in that annoying way, or the water from their kitchen faucets stop tasting so wet.
 
At the end of a long day of near-misses and looming menaces, I took the bus home, to my dog, and the loneliness, and the rapist who was almost definitely lurking in the trash cans outside my apartment.  I realized as I passed the supermarket that there was nothing to eat in the house, and no way was I having something delivered, requiring me to open the door to a stranger.  Not with that rapist out there. 
 
As I strolled through the supermarket, I saw it.  Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff.
 
Just writing those words now causes a little lurch in my gorge.  But I will see this tale through to the end, because I’ve already committed 139082398253 words to it.
 
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The box was so friendly, with the little severed hand, gleefully offering to stir flavor into my meaty entrée via a paper envelope filled with tastes.  The noodles glistened on their cardboard altar.  A cheerful little sprig of garnish bedecked the undulating platter of protein and carbohydrate slurry, and the box art hinted at healthy green sides, blurry in the background, distant, not the star of the show, not by far.  The star of the show was the meat, and the Hand, and the magic.  Magic Hand Meat.
 
I have heard people talk about being in a fugue state, but the closest I can come to explaining it myself is the time I cooked that Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, and ate it, directly from the pan, with the wooden spoon I used to stir it.  I did not sit at the table, I didn’t even retire to the couch.  I stood over the stove, consumed by anxiety and stress, the accident, the unwanted solitude, the strangers in the dark outside, meaning me harm, and I ate them, or their effigies, in the form of slimy, salty noodles and ground beef enrobed in Hand paste.  I ate them until I lost feeling in both my arms and most of my brain.  I put the lid on the pan, and probably in the midst of a mild stroke (get it?  The Hand?) staggered off to bed with my weinerdog under my arm.
 
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The sun came up on my shame.
 
If there is anything grosser than eating a mess of Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, alone, out of the pan, over the stove, wearing (FULL DISCLOSURE)  a tee shirt and your underwear, it is that same pan, the next day, cold and congealed, still on the stove, with the spoon still jutting out of it like a white flag of defeat. 
 
In that moment, I knew humility.
 
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We’ve all had times like this, when the world catches up to us and shames us into submission, even for a short time.  Some of us do things we’re not proud of in these moments.  I bought Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, and ate it.  The weinerdog, for her part, eagerly ate any errant particles that fell from the stove as I shoveled them into my big, pathetic face.
 
We’ve all been there, or some level of there.  At least I didn’t beat up any innocent people, or take my frustrations out on a helpless animal, unless you count letting one eat Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff, but if it’s good enough for me, by God, it’s good enough for that dog.
 
The point is, as long as we repent, and promise never to do it again, we can be redeemed.  No amount of fine dining can ever wash away the stain of that Hamburger Helper, but in confessing my culinary sins, I hope to be cleansed of them.
 
Let us pray.
 
Hamburger Helper
Helps your hamburger
Help her
Make a sad meal.
Hamburger Helper
Helps your hamburger
Help her
Rise up from the ashes of her disgrace and be born again
Hamburger Helper
Helps your hamburger
Help her
Know the meaning of shame.
 
You have learned Religion.  Go in peace.

  1. soundawakeradio said: Next time, go for the certainly less expensive Hamburger Dinner (caps likely optional). We’ll be glad you did. youtube.com/watch?v…
  2. simianidiot posted this
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