The other day, I received a very special invitation in the mail. It was addressed Dear Friend. It said I was among a very select group of people. I always find it rather interesting when people I don't actually know from places I've never actually visited come into this knowledge.

This invitation was from none other than Fred. Frederick J. Simon, Owner to be exact. Oh come on, you know Fred.....Fred Simon...of the Omaha Simons?

Well, OK, maybe Fred isn't exactly a house hold name, but the man is a clairvoyant for Christ sake. Fred knew all kinds of things about me. He knew that I liked to " in style, eat in fine restaurants and appreciated the difference between dinner at a four star restaurant and a sandwich on the run." When I read that, I got a chill. He knew intimate details about me and it started to really creep me out. Who's been talking to Fred I wondered? I started to think of anyone I knew that had traveled to Omaha lately, but I drew a blank.

Fred knew that of course I knew that "it wasn't unusual to pay a day's wages for a steak dinner." Let's he knows how much I make a day? And although Fred had me there for a while, obviously Fred doesn't have my job. Either he's a completely insane man who has nothing but money to throw away eating steak dinners or, I'm in the wrong line of work. Anyway, this invitation, with all it's clairvoyance and familiarity, was an invitation for meat.

Oh, but not just any meat, hell no. It was for "...steaks you never on earth could get at any supermarket, steaks most restaurants can't even buy because there just aren't enough of them to go around." Apparently we have some kind of meat shortage I don't know about.

Fred wants me to try some of his Boneless New York Strips. According to Fred, they are the "very stakes I'll find in the very best New York Steakhouses." He goes so far as to say he's "prepared to do what he has to convince me they are the gourmet treat of a lifetime."

Well, OK. Now who among us, not counting the lacto-ovo, fruititarian, vegan and regular vegetarians, not to mention the plain no red meat people, can say that a statement like that wouldn't pique their interest.

Fred wants to thrill me with 4, 8oz New York Strip steaks, which have been flash frozen, packed in dry ice, and shipped to me in a reusable, insulated cooler for 52 bucks. And as a special gift, Fred has included a discount certificate for 32.01 which means, those steaks will only cost me 19.99 plus shipping and handling. And, I get 6 steak burgers absolutely free.

Tempting offer. Fred goes on to explain how his cattle is grain fed. Into my mind comes a soft spring day on the plains, cattle scattered for miles around, munching on golden stalks of wheat and grain. It's a lovely picture. These are Fred's cattle. I close my eyes and wonder what someone else, say his name is Herb, I wonder what his cattle are eating. The only thing that comes to mind is.....grain. OK, so maybe it's special grain that Fred gets for his special cattle.

Fred claims that his steaks "are more tender than any I'll find at a grocery store, and that the tenderness comes from the slow, natural aging." Again, I close my eyes and form a picture. But it's not the picture of happy cattle grazing and nuzzling each other, happy to be Fred's cattle. No, it's footage from a 20/20 special about how they mass produce and handle veal. I suppose if I was chained to a 2 by 2 cubical and couldn't walk around, I'd be tender too.

OK, so for 52 bucks, I can have 4 8 oz strip steaks packed in ice and hermetically sealed in some polyethylene plastic sent to me plus shipping and handling, and if I use his discount certificateĉwhich is just fancy mid west high brow talk for couponĉI can get this fine meat for 19.99 plus shipping and handling. When you break that down, that's 26 bucks a pound, or 13 bucks a steak. 13 bucks for one steak or 2 adult movie tickets, or 1 movie and popcorn and a soda. That's a hair cut at Super Cuts, with a quickie blow dry and three bucks change. That's what some single people who don't know the difference between a four star restaurant and a sandwich on the fly spend on groceries for a week. Oh Fred, Fred, Fred.

Fred sent me a picture of his steaks. OK, so they looked good, but remember, we are talking about 13 bucks a steak people, do not get seduced by the picture. Fred tells me, on the four color glossy stock, that "each New York Strip is a genuine registered and numbered New York Strip." Each shipment carries a card inside to insure authenticity. Now, I'm thinking conspiracy. Fred somehow is getting some kickback from the Franklin Mint. I'm a New Yorker. I don't need a certificate of authenticity to know a strip steak when I see one.

Fred guaranteed that these steaks would be "the best steaks I'd ever eaten, or he would personally, cheerfully refund my money." He said that I didn't even have to spit out the bad stake and return the unused portion. Fred guaranteed I'd still get my money back. That got me for a second. I'm not usually the kind of person who knowingly signs up for something that I fully intend to reap the benefits of some dumb ass in the mid west who is basically saying "here, buy my steaks, tell me they tasted like shit, even though you ate them all and the burgers too, but if you don't like them, boy howdy, I'll give you your money back." Usually, I pity a dumbass, but this time, it was tough.

Fred thought I deserved this wonderful treat. In fact, he was sorry he wouldn't be there to see the look on my face when I took that first mouth watering bite.

He wanted to make sure that I didn't let this opportunity pass me by so he made me an extra offer. If I acted now, he would send me a "Deluxe Document Bag roomy enough for a laptop computer" for free. What in the hell an attaché case has to do with "mouth watering, grain fed, succulantly tender melt in your mouth New York Strips" I don't begin to know. And if that wasn't incentive enough, he has a 3 piece scissors and shears set for me.

So, let's see, 6 steak burgers, 4- 8 oz strip steaks 3 piece scissors and shears, a deluxe document bag, a discount certificate, and let's not forget the reusable insulated cooler. Still very tempting.

But when it comes right down to it, I want more from a 26 dollar a pound strip steak. I want that cow, Fred's happy cow, to get on a flight from Omaha - first class of course, too much movement might make him less tender - and show up at my door. I want this cow to ring my door bell and when I come down, present me with a lovely bouquet of flowers and shower me with my free gifts. I want him to do a tap dance. When the floor show is over, I want him to stand on his hind legs, and click his hooves twice and have a master butcher appear. I want this cow to smile warmly at me as he is lead away by the butcher, who returns 10 minutes later with my cooler of strip steaks, steak burgers and certificate of authenticity. That's what a 26 dollar a pound strip steak should be like.


Get some red meat in today's Plastic discussion.

by Michelle Giannavola


pictures Terry Colon