Monday, June 02, 2008

The Cold Sandwich War

     You'd better watch out.  You and your family, your friends, your house, your 1997 Saturn SW1 station wagon, even your pet crayfish are in mortal and infinite danger.  That is because one of the longest lasting conflicts, one that shaped the world in ways that we have yet to fully understand, has recently re-ignited.  That's right.  The Cold War is back on again!  Most people would agree that this stand-off between the United States of America (USA, US, or United States) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union or simply Russia) ended in the early 1990s with the fall of the Soviet Union, but no, that is not true.  It came back to life a couple of weeks ago when the US Navy and the Russian Pacific Fleet squared off in a battle to the death with a terrifying new weapon that defies imagination: the sandwich.
    Yeah, you heard me right.  They squared off in a contest using the thing that you brought with you to work for lunch today.  Recently the BBC reported that, as part as Russian Victory Day celebrations in the Far Eastern City of Vladivostok, the visiting US Navy destroyer Stethem and Russian Navy cooks engaged in a sandwich making contest.  The fierce battle came to a draw as "A Russian took the prize for best-tasting sandwich while an American came top for most original presentation" reported the BBC.  American winners received vodka, and Russian winners received shirts and hats from the Stethem.  I think I'd rather have the vodka to be honest. 
     Now I have some problems with this whole business.  I like that this was taking place as part of a celebration of a Russian national holiday.  I think that it speaks a lot for the healing of old wounds that the Russians would invite the US military to be part of their parade and that the US Navy would accept.  And I think it's really cool that the sailors from both sides seem to be getting along.  But why not play chess?  Maybe have a fiction writing competition?  Perhaps play some war games out in the harbor.  Super Mario Brothers.  Life.  Presidents and Assholes.  I don't care.  But this sandwich making this in a little out there.
     First of all, from the American side, there had to be someone practicing.  Out on that ship, as it floated around the Pacific, those poor sailors were subjected to day after day of sandwiches shaped like flowers, B-52 bombers, love seats, the Avery Coonley House, a San Francisco streetcar, and goodness knows what else when all they wanted was some macaroni and cheese or a big pile of french fries.  Those poor sailors were being forced to dine on what amounted to high-class restaurant food when they should have just had normal sailor food.  They probably had to wear their dress uniforms and put cloth napkins on their laps.  Those poor tortured souls.  All for this terrible competition.
     Plus, how much waste did this create, as sandwich artists on both sides tried new and innovative designs using ingredients from ports from Anchorage to Perth to Valparaiso and everywhere in between.  I am sure that in preparation those cooks made sandwiches with coconut, arugula, lime beans, yamioc, breadfruit, pineapple, and artisan breads that are too terrible to speak of.  Cheese made from the milk of animals that haven't even been discovered yet.  I can guarantee that no expense was spared, that no idea was discarded without trial, and that the top scientists were advising the cooks from a bunker under The Greenbrier.  Because there was no way that the US government was going to lose this epic chapter of the Cold War.
     I am sure that the same thing was going on in Moscow.  A lot like us they will spare no expense to keep up appearances.  And so there were billions of rubles or euros or expired Italian lira spent to research what was the most pleasing shape and texture for the Russians to make, and in the end they found that it was a ham and cheese with cherry tomatoes, mayonnaise, and cucumbers sliced like sails.  How darling.  And probably deadly.  If you were a pirate invading the ship they'd awe you with their sandwich beauty and then stab you in the eye with their high-tech Russian toothpicks of death.  That's how it works.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Kremlin used this as an exercise in personal combat training.
    Don't fool yourself.  The Pentagon did the same thing.  They probably used some strange new chemical to salt the ham so they can test it's use as a combat drug on civilians.  Because that's how the modern military works.  In every country.  But who knows.  Maybe I am excessively cynical.  Maybe my views on the world are too jaded and narrow.  Perhaps this incident isn't something to be all up in arms about.  Maybe it's a simple, innocent, friendly competition had to celebrate the defeat of an evil empire where everyone comes out ahead.  Maybe I am just being another Michelle Malkin when it comes to this one.  I hope so.  Because deep in the depths of my heart I hope that we can take this story for face value and let it go.  Besides, they made a sandwich with little cucumber sails on it.  How awesome is that? 

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