The fleshy part

(The 10th, and possibly the most harrowing google image result for "fleshy part.")

I am currently regretting the fact that I went with the 14" cheese-steak for the price of a 7" cheese-steak at a sports-bar called Bert's at lunch. It raises at least one interesting question -- what, legally, is the definition of "steak"? If you wanted to, say, level a lawsuit at a restaurant -- how far would their "steak" have to be from that normative legal standard "steak"? Because the first thing that pops up in my dictionary is, "A slice of meat cut from the fleshy part of an animal or large fish." Which doesn't carry with it any of the quality control that is, to my mind, implicit in and conveyed by the word. Can you imagine if they'd just decided not to invent the word steak and just gone with fleshy part? Going to a the local fleshy part house for a sirloin fleshy part? Firing up the grill and throwing down some t-bone fleshy parts? Groaning about having to watch those awful, awful hot men hock for Taco Bell's Triple Fleshy Part Burrito during every commercial break? Having the classic Simpsons' line instead be "Money's too tight for fleshy parts"? I can tell you one thing, and I will tell you that one thing -- if the special had been a 14" fleshy part sandwich for the price of just 7" of fleshy part, I'm pretty sure that's a sandwich I wouldn't be regretting.

Also -- Last week, I sat in on a lecture, and the lecturer said that "mutton" was a kind of cow meat. I wasn't so sure, so I went to the lecturer afterward and I said, "are you sure mutton is a kind of cow meat?" She was absolutely sure. Now, having thoroughly searched the surprisingly extensive wikipedia page for "mutton" for such phrases as "cow," "beef," "steak," "fleshy part," and "any other animal that's not a sheep or goat or lamb or something like that," it is becoming more and more clear that mutton can, under no circumstances, be a cow. Not even in Britain, where, it was intimated by the lecturer, it was more likely to be a cow. I know that because there's a "Britain" section to the wikipedia entry for mutton, no shit.

So now, I'm trying to find a way to reveal that I'm right about mutton, without it coming off as gloating. I'm thinking about wearing a t-shirt that says, "Mutton Can Under No Circumstances Be Cow," and explaining to everyone that it's the hot new fashion the kids are wearing, like No Fear and Shemalé in their day. I'm thinking I could organize a campus even called Mutton Week under the auspices of some shadow corporation called NoCow or Cows AREN'T Us (a limited liability corporation), with a mission of getting out the facts about mutton and ending all the pernicious misconceptions. I could get a bunch of freshman to stand on the quad and hand out literature and do something theme-appropriate like, I dunno, wail on some cowbells or something. I could dress up like the gypsy from Jane Eyre and go into her office hours eating some mutton, and then deliver a seemingly mad, yet curiously precise disquisition on the nature and history of mutton, and then jump out the window to evade campus security. I could revive the old theanonymouspervert@gmail.com gmail account and send her an anonmyous tip from the anonymous pervert, on the preconception that, as long as my name isn't attached, she won't know it's from me -- the only problem would be finding a way to say something perverted about mutton that's still actually about mutton, sort of like how I imagine it was sometimes difficult for Bill Nye the Science Guy or Beakman (either of the Beakmans) from Beakman's world to simultaneously follow every standard of scientific rigor and falsifiability and remain accessible, you know, for the kids. But I'll probably have to just go on letting her believe that mutton is cow, and infecting whole new generations of readers with this damned lie. The needle and the damage done. I just hope she doesn't get to you, or anyone you know.


Sisyphus said...


Stephanie Hershinow said...

Every time I stumble upon your blog, I have a strong opinion! First, liking lots of kinds of beer is good. Now, mutton is so totally not beef! I'm actually more than a little worried by this anecdote (as I have been ever since you first reported it to me). How can I have a dissertation advisor who doesn't know her fleshy parts???

D said...

Ram! Ewwwww....

Stephanie: Maybe you should dress up as the Jane Eyre gypsy. You have more to lose. We could always buy her some mutton...

Anonymous said...

I studied at Iowa as well, and enjoyed reading your Derrida thesis. I'm also good friends with Luther M. and Tim C.

Out of boredom, I read this blog and stumbled upon your steak comment. Because I'm a law student now, I thought I might shed some light on what is a standard Contracts question.

Your question about what is steak is answered by a first year case called "Frigaliment." Every jurisdiction, including MD, has a variant on it.


The facts were as follows: a cook bought a number chickens from a merchant. The contract was not more specific. When the chickens arrived, the cook realized that they were stewing chickens, which were unsuitable for his culinary needs. He asked the merchant to take them back, but he refused. A lawsuit followed.

The legal issue was: did the merchant give the cook a "chicken" in accordance with the meaning of their contract?

Long story short, in situations like yours, the court would look at custom usage (what type of steak sandwiches are there usually? what should you expect?); the price of steak (is it grossly out of proportion to what you got?); and some of the oral pre-negotiations exchanged (did you ask them about the taste of the steak? how did the menu advertise the steak?).

All of these ideas, especially the advertisement idea, are cabined by no less interesting legal doctrines, such as puffery in offers.

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