Art Imitating Life, Only Not as Fat

This year for their annual spring “operetta,” my daughter’s school decided to stage a musical called “Kate & the Giant.” (Alternative casting aside, this change to a Jack and the Beanstalk production was necessitated by the fact that there are only four kids in the fourth grade, one of whom would have to be the star.) The kids (this year, Grades 1 through 4) work hard on the show for weeks, and then are able to perform it only twice, which causes a lot of post-show letdown in our house.

Over the years I’ve helped in painting and assembling sets, and by now, I’m the default guy for planning the whole job. I don’t mind–it’s a lot of fun trying to make everything functional yet lively, trying to make a backdrop of a stand-alone prop serve more than one purpose in several scenes, etc. Since the writers of this play had some kind of food obsession and had the Giant at one point stuff himself comically with food, I had to devise supersize portions of various tasty treats. Papier mache did the trick, turning 2-liter pop bottles into chicken legs, an old detergent bottle into a baked ham, and balloons into fruit and vegetables. But one of my proudest creations was a nice big juicy cheeseburger. For some reason, I just couldn’t see the play going on WITHOUT a cheeseburger. I even brought it to school once to show the kids at dismissal, and their enthusiasm for the play spiked to new heights.

Here’s what the fabulous cheeseburger looked like:

Now that’s a damn tasty burger, as Jules Winnfield might say. The pieces were made and painted separately, then glued together. My plan was to make a burger so hugely humongous that people would split their sides laughing as soon as they saw it. But when I glued all the pieces together, I had a nauseating revelation: As big as this burger was, there will be a countless number of REAL EDIBLE burgers at least this big being served all over America this summer, either at a beef festival or at some Texas roadhouse with a money-back guarantee deal attached to it.

The very next day, as I was thumbing through Smithsonian Magazine, I found a pic of a guy wrestling a platter-busting burger for a festival in North Carolina.

Once again, no matter how big you can make something for comedic/satiric effect, real life will always outstrip it.

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