The deli I frequent makes the best egg salad sandwiches -- thick-sliced bread toasted until it achieves the load-bearing strength for a half-pound of golden egg salad goodness inside. Add in a slice of yellow cheese and a dash of paprika, and you've got the best sandwich this side of New York State. Great as the sandwich is, man cannot live on egg salad alone, which is also why they offer foot-long hoagies. Having frequented this deli so often, it was only a matter of time before I ordered a foot-long egg salad sandwich.
The deli man's cocked eyebrow said it all: "Are you sure?" Without waiting for an answer, he got to work, piling into the hoagie bread three times as much egg salad as a normal sandwich -- and presumably a normal human -- should require. The sandwich was glorious, but I'm fairly certain that pain in my chest after eating it was not regret.
At lunch the next day the deli man shook his head as I stepped inside. He reached under the counter for the egg salad and started to made another foot-long, but I stopped him. Rarely have I seen more relief on another man's face. His expression was short-lived, however. It cut short abruptly when I told him I wanted a foot-long peanut butter and jelly.
With America being the land of the free where the customer is always right, it was a foregone conclusion that I would get my sandwich. Freedom to do such dumb things as this was practically written into our constitution.
Compressed into that one sandwich experience were all the summer vacation days of every year of grade school -- endless summers of days in the park, and always with peanut butter and jelly as a packed lunch. I might have lost a few summers -- you know, taken off the tail end -- by eating the whole thing in one sitting, but it was completely worth it if only to revel in the horribly perplexed look of the deli man.