Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bandana’s Bar-B-Q III, or IV

Festus MO

Adam’s choice, lunchtime Saturday. He had class in the morning then work a little later, so we met him in between. As before the place smelled delightful, meat smokers were un-polluting the city air. The lousy, cheap outdoor speakers were blasting country music, which would normally drive me away immediately, but Angel and Adam had their hearts set, so I sucked it up like a proper family man and just silently cursed to myself.

As we approached the door, the very moment I was in direct line with the awful racket-maker, an obnoxious hook-line in the song etched itself into my brain and would not go away. The words were burnt into my frontal lobe as if scorched in with a fat soldering iron from a 60’s era wood burning set.

Like a tumbleweed in a tilt-a-whirl”*

I kid you not.

I didn’t catch any of the rest of the words, so I wasn’t quite sure what the other half of the analogy was, I was too busy trying to scrape the awful noise out of my head. But it stayed. The so-called song was still playing as we were shown to our booth.

We ordered our drinks, tea, tea and Coke.

The problem I had with this lyric was that while I certainly appreciate a good, well constructed and image-producing analogy, I just could not figure out how ‘like a tumbleweed in a tilt-a-whirl’ was a definitive analog of anything other than an actual tumbleweed in a tilt-a-whirl.

I knew immediately that a tilt-a-whirl was a carnival ride, though I was having trouble remembering specifically which ride it was, probably not the teacups or the spinning, bouncing horses. I confess to not being a carnival aficionado, so the analogy kind of broke down right from the start.

An analogy should, by definition clarify something in a timely manner. For example:

“When my sister yells at me it sounds like a cat in a garbage disposal.”

You don’t know my sister but the picture I’ve painted using this simple analogy gives you an accurate, universally understood indication of what she really sounds like.

“I was sweating like a greased kumquat on Arbor day.” This one does you no real good. It makes you think too hard. “I think I know what a kumquat is, maybe. I don’t know how much liquid one excretes when greased, and I can’t really remember when Arbor Day is, or what impact that would have on the amount of moisture excreted by the vegetable, or is it a fruit?”

It’s catchy, colloquial and cute, but it doesn’t really add any usable information to the conversation. Analogies need to be based on certain commonality. The listener needs to know/understand/recognize the things that you are describing.

I saw a tumbleweed once, in person. I was living in Texas at the time and sure enough, just like on “Gunsmoke”,** there went a tumbleweed rolling down the hot, dusty path toward the corral (parking lot). It was a scrawny thing, smaller, sparser than those on TV.

As it turns out tumbleweed is not native to the U.S. It, like macaroni, fireworks, lead-based toys and poison baby formula are originally from Asia, having spread to the U.S. in shipments of agricultural seeds from Asian countries, probably the communist ones. Tumbling tumbleweeds have been disappearing in the arid southwest, their function having been replaced by the more durable and ubiquitous, plastic shopping bag.***

A tumbleweed weighs about as much as helium, and therefore just goes wherever the winds blow it. I can’t for the life of me imagine how it would behave in a twisting, torquing carnival ride. So there, Mr. Twangy Country Music man, your stupid analogy is a dismal failure!

Just another reason country music should be completely eliminated from society.

The Place:

I’ve described it before, friendly, black tee-shirted staff, ample room for booths and tables, a little barn-sh looking with large tin wash basins as lampshades and iron pipes and fittings to hold the necessary paper towel roll. One napkin is never enough here.

The one downside is the music. I suppose it’s okay if you like twangy intellectually-insulting, three-note, two-beat music, but those of us with superior tastes find it unpleasantly distracting, like a wasp in a urinal. (See what a GOOD colloquial analogy can do?)

The Food.

I knew what I was going to order before we even got there. Pulled pork sandwich and fries; I added a side of baked beans. Angel went for a lunch special, a quarter of a chicken with green beans and potato salad. Adam once again ordered the spicy ‘Wet Bandana’ sandwich (chicken + turkey) and fries on the side.

None of this was new, we’ve been to Bandana’s before, a few times, and have found nothing disappointing. The meat is always awesome, they have a wide variety of sauces, and the sides like the beans and the potato salad are made in-house and are all church-picnic awesome.

The meals were served in baskets lined with country-looking paper, my sandwich and fries in one basket, a small bowl of beans in another, yeah, they served me beans, in a bowl, in a basket.

Since Angel had a plate rather than a sandwich, she got two slabs of Texas Toast, the best Texas Toast in the region. Adam and I stared her down and made guttural growling noises like pit bulls in front of a raw steak. In fear for her own life and limbs she tore one of the slabs in two and tossed them cautiously at us. Smart move.

I poured about a cup of the Chicago style sauce on my sandwich, I like it the best since it tastes just like Chicago. The pork was chunky, a little on the dry side as smoked meat is prone to be, so generous portions of sauce were called for. This did not diminish the experience at all. We all ate fast and well. Adam started to succumb to the spiciness after a while, he boxed up the last quarter of his sandwich. My plate (basket) was empty and Angel had reduced her slab of chicken to bare bone and gristle. We refused dessert, for reasons that escape me now. Oh yeah, we were full.


There was never a doubt that this would be an awesome lunch. We’ve never been disappointed at Bandana’s. They do meat just right and don’t cut corners with the sides. The meal came in at just over thirty two dollars, just a little higher than a fast-food place, but the difference in atmosphere (except for the hideous music) and food quality was more than worth it. The wait staff was attentive and friendly, even the manager came out and greeted us, asking if he could bring us anything else. I thought for a moment about answering “Why yes, good sir, we’d like a pony!” But in the end I spared the poor man a savage slash from my rapier wit.


* “Heart Over Head, Over Heels” by Clay Walker. For those of you that just HAVE to know. Listen at your own peril, you’ve been warned.

** Gunsmoke: This is a deliberate shout-out to my good friend Dave M. in Maryland. He’s never lived west of the Blue Ridge Mountains as far as I recall and can be a little east-coast/tidewater snobbish. He writes occasionally to shamelessly mock the fine town of ‘Festus’ equating it to the lovable but quaintly illiterate character (played by the late Ken Curtis) by that name in the old TV series. That character is, I think, how Dave imagines all of us out here to be.

*** Tumbleweed/shopping bag: I made this up.

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