ANN ARBOR, Mich. - I was less nervous at my first job interview. As I stood clutching my tray near the front of a long line at Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger, I went over the ordering rules again in my head. I prayed I wouldn't freeze when my moment arrived.
In the previous 30 minutes, I'd learned to fear and respect the grill cook. She was a tiny woman with the charm of a rattlesnake and the memory of a Jeopardy champ. While juggling six orders, she still could find time to berate a customer for ordering his cheese before his grill items, to berate the fry cook for not cutting enough vegetables and to berate the cashier for switching the in-store music from Hail to the Victors to Le Freak.
Finally, my time game. She pointed her spatula at me. "What about you?" she growled.
Now I know how Frank the Tank felt during his debate with James Carville. My mind went blank, and my mouth did the work. "Six patties, a fried egg, bacon and mushrooms on a Kaiser roll," I said. The restaurant, previously a cauldron of sound thanks to a long line of hungry Michigan fans and the disco beats of Chic, fell silent. After a moment, someone spoke.
"Who are you?" asked a customer near the back of the line. "Charlie Weis?"
I made it through the line without further incident and then consumed the finest six-patty burger I've ever eaten. (I'm fairly certain it wasn't the first; I do have a tendency to black out.) The fried mushrooms and root beer provided the perfect complement.
Michigan may not win today at the Big House, but one Ann Arbor institution already has scored a huge win over its South Bend counterpart. My custom Blimpy burger bested the Golden Domer at C.J.'s Pub. To put it in football terms, that's an upset the magnitude of Appalachian State over Michigan.
I can't wait for the rematch.