We were really hungry and decided to eat our dinner for lunch. There was still a pound of ground beef from the pack we had bought yesterday, so out came the vegetables, the cheese, the pan, the stove, and the knife. “We can have oatmeal for dinner,” I said.
“I think the beef has gone bad,” Kristie said, sniffing the package.
“That’s impossible. It’s only been sitting out overnight plus a few hours.”
“It’s been warm here and this meat stinks. It’s bad.”
“Let me see it.” I took the package and sniffed. “Smells fine to me.”
“Look at it. It’s all brown. And I can’t believe you can’t smell it. It’s bad.”
I sniffed again. “It’s true my sense of smell is terrible, but I think it’s fine. Nothing that an extra shake of salt and pepper won’t cure. And meat always gets brown when it’s not refrigerated. That doesn’t mean it’s spoiled.”
“That’s exactly what it means. I’m not eating it. That stuff is rancid.”
“Then we’ll cook the veggies separately so you don’t have to eat the beef.”
“If you eat that you are going to get sick. You are going to be throwing up all night and you are going to feel terrible when we ride back tomorrow.”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.” We got everything all cooked up. I was really hungry. “Sure you don’t want to try it?”
“I can’t believe you’re eating that. I can smell it from over here. It stinks. It is horrible.”
“If they served me this at a restaurant I’d wolf it down and tip the waiter.”
“If they served me that at a restaurant I’d call the health department.”
I dug in a spoonful and chewed gaily. “This is yummy. You should really try it.” I proffered the spoon.
“Please don’t do that. It’s making me gag.”
I kept eating. She stared at me, her horror increasing with each mouthful. About halfway through the pound of sizzling beef my mouth began to feel funny. “You know,” I said, “my mouth feels funny.”
“Your mouth? What about your fucking stomach? I can’t believe you haven’t vomited.” She had moved about ten yards away, upwind.
I chewed some more then put my spoon down. “I think that meat might be bad.”
“Oh fuck, really? Is it really? Who knew? What is wrong with you?”
I drank some coffee and swashed it around to try and kill the taste. “You know what it tastes like?”
“Uh, let me guess! Rotten beef?”
“It tastes all tangy, like when you lick the ends of a battery terminal.”
“Totally normal. That’s what quality ground beef always tastes like. If they served me a battery terminal in a restaurant, I’d wolf it down and tip the waiter.”
“It’s kind of odd that the coffee doesn’t make the taste go away.”
“Seth! It’s rotten fucking beef! You’ve eaten a quarter pounder of spoiled meat! Your taste buds have melted.”
“Maybe the Oreos will help.” I ate a couple of Oreos but they didn’t help. I sniffed my fingers again. “You know, I think you were right. That stuff was spoiled. I’m not going to eat any more of it. I don’t want to get sick.”
For some reason I could now smell it strongly. It didn’t smell very good.
“I’m washing the pan right now,” Kristie said. She grabbed it and went over to the spigot, and began scrubbing vigorously. She finished and came back over to the table. The pan clattered as she dropped it. “I feel sick.”
“Sick? How come?”
“The smell of that rotten meat has nauseated me. I think I’m going to puke.”
“I’m the one that should be puking.”
“Oh, bullshit. You’re the one tipping the fucking waiter.” She walked over to the edge of the campsite and bent over. I heard her gurgle and saw her veggie lunch plop out onto the ground.
“That’s gross,” I said.
“Fuck you,” she said. “I can’t believe you aren’t sick. What is wrong with you?”
“I don’t know. But you’re right. That stuff was a tad gamey. I just wish I could get rid of the tangy aftertaste. It would be good in ice cream,” I mused. “But not in a hamburger.”
“I think I’m going to be sick again,” she said.
But she wasn’t.
“I’m glad we ate that now instead of later,” I said.
“We?” She was sitting at the bench looking green. “Why?”
“Think how much more spoiled it would have been for dinner.”
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