- Sandwich bliss
Mark Twain once said, "A man in armor always trusted to chance for his food on a journey and would have been scandalized at the idea of hanging a basket of sandwiches on his spear. And yet there could not be anything more sensible."
So, in accordance with this sensible line of thought and as part of my quest for gastric enlightenment, off I wandered into the freezing forest, thwarting Arthurian logic by embracing smart shoes and a loaded knapsack instead of the more traditional clunky armor and sword. I could easily become fodder for the bears, wolves and critters of the night -- of this, I was keenly aware. But at least did I pay heed to the bottomless pang that so mercilessly emanates from my gut.
On such a journey as this, intended to test my raw survival skill, a sack of sammies could be considered dirty pool. But these five prepared meals represented far more than a charlatan's bag of tricks.
Indeed, thanks to the benumbing weather that somewhat assured their freshness, they became the basis for heavenly transcendence.
Form of a dragon
Do not assume that a pack of sandwiches left me without weaponry on this trek; foolish be the knight who enters the forest unarmed. Bear witness to sandwich one: shaved steak marinated in hot chile oil and sauted with red onions and paprika -- a spicy, flaming honker which I consumed on an afternoon rest that first day.
Upon assuming the offensive breath and brute force of a prong-forked dragon, this sandwich allowed me to rid the path of pesky rodents, ugly insects and the milieu of slithering thingamabobs. Were I a weaker man, I would have pocketed them for easy snacks, but necessary it was that I stick to sandwiches alone.
By and by, I set up camp using a stray pine branch to sweep the ground of errant twigs and problematic pebbles. On the clearing, I unrolled my frayed bedding. The air was chilly like an icebox, and the dragon's flame within me did not last long.
A Machiavellian manor
In the shivering morn, I woke to the songy chirp of south-flying sparrows and the snicker of nut-searching squirrels. Fa la lah.
For warmth, I stretched and instinctively grabbed sandwich numero dos: an imperial delight of cured German ham and French brie cheese on a crusty Euro-baguette.
The subtle flavors locked within the three ingredients exploded on my epicurean palate with each savory tear. These rich, refined tastes induced in me a courtly air, the likes of which would have only been matched by Machiavelli's Perfect Courtier. Were there a demoiselle in distress, alas, I would have saved her.
Without much teeth-picking afterplay, I neatly folded my bedding and continued on the trail for the better part of a day. And as I walked, the sky grew murkier.
I confront the ghost
By sundown, I was famished and sulking by the side of a narrow, icy creek. The wind had chafed my face. My smart shoes had ripped a hole, and I was questioning my ability to survive. Ah, but again the cure was stashed in my knapsack, and out came sandwich number three: pulled pork and butter on a dinner roll -- a simple man's pleasure.
When I had licked the last crumb from my weather-beaten fingertips, I mustered up a cracked smile and nodded off into a passed-out stupor. Dare say, this was not a peaceful rest. At high moon, I awoke and shivered for what seemed like hours before grabbing sandwich four in desperation. This was a highly experimental combination. On a triangular cut of focaccia, I had situated a mound of seared eggplant; minced, raw garlic; jalapeo peppers; and a heavy dusting of cayenne.
The psychotropic effects of this hussy were immediate and miles beyond intense.
Night sky changed color like a mood ring. Needle-tipped snowflakes fell like anvils. Laughing Wizard of Oz trees giggled unendingly in the wind.
Helpless, I watched the snow bury my exposed feet while the flashing stars blurred my eyes. And in the midst of this terror, I think it was a wolf, no, a mountain lion in a grand pooh-bah hat, who pranced up to my dripping nose, licked the juice and snarled a single word of nationality I could not place: "Peebeejay," it said and left me to frost.
Motivation sapped, my eyes at some point later peeked open, and I thought of how I'd reached the end a failure for not having made it out of the forest alive. The moment was remorseful but somewhat assuaged by the knowledge that in my knapsack there remained one final sam'ich. Haplessly, I reached and with mangled fingers somehow unwrapped the cold PBJ on Wonder Bread.
And with the first bite, the ground began spinning, and the sun shattered the clouds into 10,000 pieces and offered me a warm and blissful state of being that erased the horrors I had unto here been subjected.
With the world's most loving sandwich, the great PBJ, I had been raised to the top of the heavens. And such euphoria would not escape me so long as I spread the holy word of the sandwich. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!