Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Wimpy burgers always offer great escape

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This note may require parental guidance and, for the record, mine have never really been able to stop me from saying whatever I said, so you’re on your own from here.

Every other year my job as a lobbyist in the North Dakota legislature requires me to crawl into a blender so my job is a bit different than most folks’. Like a whirling dervish, each legislature starts out on stir, which is the time when we creative lurkers watch who’s pouring what legislation into the blender as well as who seems to be aligning with whom. Then the bill introduction deadlines pass and someone hits the emulsify button… for the next 3.5 months.

They hit the button last Tuesday and like great grandma Samuelson used to say, “Uff Da.” So Friday arrives and I’m thinking, “Sheesh, an adult beverage would be nice.” So when the Mrs. and I were finally allowed to see each other it didn’t take long for me to hornswoggle her into a burger and a beer.

I’m not sure if it was the burger or the beer that persuaded her, but after a modicum of cajoling she acquiesced. We made it to the end of Lohstreter when I asked which way Jerry’s Hideaway, Round Up, Stage Stop, West Side… one required a left turn and the other a right.

If I had a nickel for every time during our 42+years of marriage that my spouse said, “Why do you always make me decide” I could have not only retired 10 years ago, but better yet I could relinquish my dependence on the $10 a week I get from writing notes like this to you.

Anyway she said, “Stage Stop for a Wimpy,” so that’s where we landed… she was wondering what the hell has he gotten me into now and me thinking I’d really like a large beer… not too big, just one about the size of a washtub.

Well, they don’t serve beer in washtubs at the Stage Stop, but they do play a lot of bingo, have a nice selection on tap and best of all they still serve a great Wimpy burger.

Both of my loyal readers might recall that I used to fancy myself as an athlete… tennis star and basketball phenom. Yep, I made it to age 54 before I started tripping over the lines on the court and looking more like a speed bump than a basketball player. And tennis? There were times when I felt like John McEnroe until someone took a video of my game and I realized I was just Dan Ulmer.

Anyway we’d play noon ball five days a week in the winter and tennis the rest of the year… and in looking back we always drank beer a lot better than we ever played ball. And a lot of that beer was washed down with a couple of $1 Wimpy’s before God somehow got us home safely.

I recall one night after tennis with my departed friend Gary when we were somewhat Wimpied. He was telling me that his wife, who was allergic to dogs, had bought a dog and put it out in the backyard. As most folks know, if you leave a dog in a fenced in yard it will eventually kill most of the grass.

Well, his wife knew that we always stopped for a Wimpy on our way home from Tuesday night tennis. Thus, before he left she drug him out to the back deck and said, “You know, the first thing to go in an alcoholic’s life is his backyard, you gotta quit drinking.”

I burst out laughing and said, “It’s her dog, right?” And Gary faded into hysterics with me. Then the bartender said, “Hey Ulmer, phone.”

It was the Mrs. announcing that one of his children shot a bottle rocket into the tall prairie grass in his backyard and not only had the fire truck been there but she ruined her shoes and her mother’s best quilt trying to keep the fire away from the house.

So once I affirmed that everything was now okay I hung up the phone and said, “You’re not gonna be able to guess what just happened to my backyard…” and we toasted each other with another pitcher before ordering a Wimpy…

So that’s what I did last Friday and I’m pleased to report that the $3 (3.50 with cheese) is still a great value… Actually, I thought it was better than it used to be… of course, I was not only reminiscing but imbibing as well.

Here’s hoping that you can always find a place to just dump reality for a while…