Sophia called me up and said she was hungry. I suggested our usual lunch place in Redono Beach.

“Not that place again,” she said. “Can’t we ever do anything different?”

I’ve heard this said to me many times in the bedroom, but never about my choices of where to eat lunch.

But then inspiration hit me.

“Oh, I know where I’ll take you. I found a place where they have really good gyros!”

“Great” said Sophia, turned-on by my surprising show of spontaneity. 

But things quickly changed as we pulled into the parking lot of Dave’s Burgers. I could see Sophia was incredulous.

“We’re going here?” she said, emphasis on HERE.

I reminded Sophia that some of the best hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, even GYROS are created like masterpieces in the dumpiest of take-out joints.

Inside Dave’s Burgers, it was like Formica Heaven. The Menu board was as long as “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” (pretentious literary reference to impress). There was Mexican food, Italian food, Greek food, and an assortment of burgers, with or without chili on top.

“This Gyro is like a sandwich with shaved meat in a pita, right” asked Sophia.


“You know I don’t like sandwiches too much.”

Before I could spell “high maintenance,” I found a solution.

“Look,” I said, pointing towards the vast menu board, “They have a gyro platter for two dollars more. And it comes with a salad and a drink.”

Ten minutes later, we were sitting at at an uncomfortable plastic table while Sophia stared down at her plate glistening with fat, reconstituted meat slices.

“Aren’t they supposed to use real meat?” she asked.

Maybe I was so deluded by WANTING to find a good gyro sandwich in Redondo Beach, that I imagined it as tasty the first time. Or maybe when you order a sandwich rather than the platter, and you get it wrapped up in paper, you just don’t see what the meat actually looks like (or see it dripping with oil).

The “salad” was 1/6 lettuce, 1/6 french fries, and 2/3 greasy onion rings. We ended up tossing our food away.

“I hope the guys who work here don’t eat this crap every day,” said Sophia. “They’re gonna drop dead.”

Note to Editors of the Washington Post:

OK, let me take a little pause in this story for some literary self-criticism.

I understand that if I want my posts to be picked up by your illustrious newspaper, I must start telling “true” stories. That means no fudging the facts or using exaggeration. After all, imagine what would happen to my budding career if I start making up the story like Jayson Blair did with the Times.

The problem I have with most true life stories is that the endings are usually lame. Most real-life incidents don’t come with a ready punch-line. That said — THIS true-life “gyro” story does have a good ending. But the final twist is so forced and obvious that you are not going to believe that this really happened. It just seems like hack work. But it did happen. I swear. I swear on the names of your gods, Woodward and Bernstein.


Quick recap:

Sophia says, “I hope the guys who work here don’t eat this crap every day. They’re gonna drop dead.”

As we leave Dave’s Burgers, three fire engines, an ambulance, and two paramedics zoom into the parking lot. One of the chefs collapsed in the kitchen after eating his own lunch, and is carried out on a stretcher.