OTIS ORCHARDS – The nation may be teetering on the cutlet of another mad cow panic, but the news hasn’t affected James T. Kirk.
On Wednesday, the transplanted Scotsman (who, surprisingly enough, was NOT named in honor of that mythical Starfleet commander of “Star Trek” fame) sat down at the head of a table inside the landmark Otis Grill, where he attempted to consume a burger big enough to be orbiting Neptune.
A longtime observer of human behavior at its quirkiest, I was there to watch as a server carted out this steaming bun silo that may go on the Otis menu as the $28 Capt. Kirk Burger.
I was also there to watch at the end, where …
Aw, I’ll save the finale for later.
First let’s look at the components that comprise this carnivore’s delight.
We have four patties of ground bovine, each patty weighing a third of a pound. Add eight strips of bacon and four ounces of sliced ham.
There are four slices each of cheeses Swiss and cheddar, plus the requisite lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and sauce.
And now for what truly sets the Capt. Kirk apart from the burger herd:
Four eggs over easy.
You heard me.
“I kind of feel like the eggs bring it all together,” the 30-year-old quipped in a soft brogue after I remarked about all the yolk that oozed like yellow lava out of his burgersaurus.
Maybe 2012 really will be the end of the world.
At 5-foot-8ish and 240 pounds, Kirk certainly bears the stocky dimensions of the hearty eater.
His humor is enormous, too. That’s what got him into this gastronomic predicament in the first place.
Every Wednesday, you see, Kirk and his co-worker cronies drive to the Otis Grill from Spokane Teachers Credit Union headquarters in Liberty Lake. Kirk is one of those savvy help desk technicians that you call in a frenzy when your computer blows up.
Once at the Grill, these friends cajole and dare each other into ordering larger and larger versions of the restaurant’s trademark Otis Burger.
It hasn’t been much of a contest lately. Not since Kirk started playing the chicken fetus card.
“Sometimes at home he’ll eat three dinners in a row,” attested Amy, Kirk’s bride of seven years.
Amy stopped by with the couple’s two young sons, Adam and Ben. After living in Scotland for the first two years of their marriage, the Kirks decided to migrate to Newman Lake, where Amy grew up.
But even Amy had some concerns about whether hubby had gone too far. Kirk’s previous ground beef best, after all, had been a two-patty, one-egg burger that looked positively feeble compared to this creation.
“I wanted to stop by and check on him,” she explained. “I thought he might die.”
And so it began.
Kirk received his burger plus mound of steak fries with a wry smile. He methodically cut up the sandwich with a knife and fork and began to chew.
“Every great journey begins with a single bite,” noted co-worker Adam King.
Journey? This was more of a painful, unnatural struggle, like “Moby-Dick,” or Mike and Molly doing it.
Formerly Norma’s Burger Barn, the Otis Grill at 21902 E. Wellesley Ave. has maintained the homey atmosphere I remember from my last visit years ago.
An Elvis photo hangs high on a wall along with other nostalgic keepsakes.
I can see the Capt. Kirk Burger becoming one of those big draws where successful gluttons get a T-shirt and their picture on a place of fame.
God bless America!
A half hour after he began, however, the burger’s namesake began to slow despite encouragement from 15 or so friends and fans who had come to gawk.
“The camcorder is going,” said Kirk’s sister-in-law Nichole Malakowsky. “This is a family event.”
“We need a rousing battle speech,” yelled King. “Somebody needs to jump on a horse.”
“This is your Bloomsday,” urged Brian Brown. “You’ve gotta finish.”
“Do it for Scotland!”
Alas, this would be no reprise of William Wallace’s glorious slaughtering of the English at Stirling Bridge.
Let the record show that our James T. Kirk threw down his fork in defeat about a minute past 12:30 p.m. He had eaten all but 15 percent of his mammoth meal.
“Today, I looked fear in the face,” he announced.
“And ran away.”