Gary Rinsem

Where's the beef
Early 1984

I was in the Navy. I didn't have access to a TV or even a place to watch one, if it existed. You couldn't watch the TVs that were for the crew, too much to explain here.

This memory took place with the ship at sea, when some of the crew was under great stress, some physically demanding like my job underway, but mental stress for others. It's no excuse, just an explanation.


I got off watch on checks in the fwd hole and went to the mess decks with my head of line pass. I got two sliders somehow without even begging. Sitting on the fwd EDF, the guy I stepped in line in front of sat down nearby. I noticed because he got bitchy as hell about my head of line. He was still raving at me when he sat down. The following has me laughing again weeks later, now that I understand.

He bit into his slider and lost control, screaming and yelling fuck this and fuck that. Among the other fuck he repeatedly yelled "Where's the fucking beef." It meant nothing to me until now. I saw it today. It's a line from a TV commercial, without a fuck, obviously.

My nut on the EDF kept raving while a corpsman was called from sick bay. The master at arms eventually handcuffed and took him to sick bay. Later they woke me up to ask questions, and answered mine at the same time.

He blamed me because I got HIS slider as my second. He told the master at arms that I took it off his plate. When he bit into his burger he found a round piece of cardboard with "Where's the beef" written on it. The mess cooks did it with a bunch of buns in the pan, starting after the last burger patty, which was my second one. I suspect he gave me two to get rid of the last actual slider so he could start their joke. Shipmates who got them were laughing about it and showed me theirs while the nut was being dealt with.

Sometime Later

The TV commercial isn't funny. It's been six months and people everywhere are still saying where's the beef for no reason, when it doesn't apply in any way. I hope I never understand stupid social things like this. I don't ever want to be like that.