TUNA AND EGG SALAD ON RYE PLEASE
It was a long time ago and, believe it or not I had a job as a radio deejay. No really, I actually got paid to be on the air. Go figure. I liked doing the show quite a bit. The station oversaw a small North Jersey town. I had lots of good listeners and plenty of happy sponsors. Life was good. There was more than enough to talk about and I never had a shortage of guests to interview. The shows I did were, in a way, the start of what I now do on the web. In fact, it just hit me that the commercials, I was called on to write and perform were really the embryonic start of these blurps I now write.
I never lacked for fans either. There were quite a few folks who listened to every minute of every show. Bless their hearts. They made the show fun. I had so many of them glued to the other end of the beam. If I had a contest, they’d get in it full bore. Sometimes they’d win. Sometimes, they wouldn’t. Those great people would always try. Every time, they’d be in it tooth and nail. I have to say that I sure had some great fans.
One day, if I remember correctly, I was interviewing a guest. God knows how the topic came up but, the guest and I got on the topic of sandwiches. It may well be that we started out talking about my guests new book on roadside stops along Route 95. But, as with most of my interviews we wandered off topic just a tad. It never took too long to do that kind of thing. It may be that I got to talking about how much fun it was when my Mom Dad and younger brother Ed and I would go on a road trip. Mom had this Scotch Cooler Bucket. It had a plaid pattern on the outside. They might still be around but, they were very popular in the early fifties. All families had at least two. She’d fill the bottom with ice. Then she’d stuff it with one beer for our father. Then, in would go soda, and all sorts of sandwiches. Tuna salad was the sandwich of choice. Salami sandwiches on white bread with mustard came in second. Mom could feed a small army out of that tin.
My show’s guest had pretty much the same experiences as me. Though, he or she said that in his or her family’s case the main sandwich was bologna on crusty rye with mayonnaise and that egg salad sandwiches we’re in for second choice. And then, a big smile came over my face. The guest could see I was on to something.
I was late for a commercial break but, money would have to wait. I raised both my hands in the air and shouted totally off topic. “This just hit me. What if you took crusty rye bread and on one slice cover it with tuna salad? Then, on the other slice of bread, you lathered it up with egg salad? You’d have a fish egg salad sandwich. Oh my God! That would be delicious!!!!”
I started to froth at the mouth. The guest looked a little pale. I was running around the control booth tearing at my tee shirt. I couldn’t control myself. “Think of how great that would be!!!” We broke for commercial.
I may be embellishing just a bit here. But, the idea did indeed hit me while I was on the air. I vowed to make that very sandwich the first chance I got. There was just one problem, I had to host a cruise night that evening. It was at a Wendy’s. My balloon popped as I realized that I’d have to wait till I got home late that evening. Gosh, it would take forever to hard boil an egg when I got home. What if we were out of tuna and bread too? Worse than that, what if we were out of mayonnaise? That would mean I’d have to wait to try my dream sandwich until breakfast at least. I went from joy to agony in record time. Drat the luck.
I went through the motions of setting up my equipment at the Wendy’s Cruise night. Sure, they had fine sandwiches all dripping with cheese and really great chili there. But, you could sure bet that they didn’t have tuna and egg salad sandwiches on hand. I choked down a burger or two and maybe a bag of fries. Good as they were, it just wasn’t the same.
Hot rods were arriving as the music played. I hardly noticed. I felt like if you’ve seen one 57 Ford, you’ve seen them all. Roadsters…Schmodsters. Big deal! I so wanted that sandwich.
In due time, the sun was going down and it was getting dark. I turned from the crowd to choose the next record. With my back to the crowd, I didn’t notice a super large pickup truck pull right up to my table. I jumped a foot when its air horn went off. I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
I whirled to see this giant diesel Dodge Pickup right in my face. All its lights were on and the engine was growling. I couldn’t really see the driver with the high beams in my eyes. Thankfully, the engine shut off and the drivers side door opened. A guy climbed out of the drivers side and, his feet hit the ground with a thud. The guy was carrying a bag and a coffee.
It was listener Steve. He was one of my steady listeners. Well he would be one of my steady listeners until I played a polka. Then, all bets were off and he’d turn off the station till the song was over. No big deal. You don’t like polkas then, you shouldn’t listen when they’re on. Steve held the bag out to me and said it was for me.
I opened the bag and I could smell right away that my prayers were answered. In the bag was a tuna salad and egg salad sandwich on crusty rye bread. Pickle slice included. Steve’s smile stretched between two counties.
The sandwich didn’t stand a chance. It’s next of kin would have been horrified. Gluttony reigned supreme for about five seconds. Then it was gone but, not forgotten. Oh, Lord was that ever a great sandwich. My hunch was right. Quite right indeed.
One shouldn’t eat egg and tuna salad sandwiches too fast on an empty stomach. I spent a bit of time belching as Steve explained that he and the deli owner got into a pretty good fight when Steve placed the order. It was just a war of words. No knives or guns came into play and Steve and the Counter guys didn’t wind up punching each other as they rolled on the floor. Mostly Steve held his ground and said he wasn’t giving up his “next” number until the guy made that sandwich. The line was starting to grow so, the deli guy gave in. People were starting to get mad. Of course a few patrons thought the sandwich was a good idea and wanted one too. That deli, I would think, must now have that sandwich as a steady number. It would only be right if they call it the “Steve”. It wouldn’t be right to name it after me. I don’t need the honor. This is a case of inspiration over shadowing good hard grunt work.
Steve was always up to one thing or another back then. I guess he still is. You got to keep an eye on him. Just the same, he is good people and just one of the many great listeners I’m lucky enough to have.