Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Tale of Love, Loss, and Reunion

By Capt Trent Metlen, USMC

History is always selectively written, and our memories are the most personal of history books. Our memories may serve as markers of pivotal points in our past, such as I-Day 2000, the day I entered military life. Memories may also serve as symbols of life truths. One such symbol for me is the Drydock Special. 

The Drydock Special was, and still is, my favorite sandwich. As far as I can remember, it was made with a kaiser roll, three ounces of sliced turkey breast, two slices of pepper jack cheese, sautéed mushrooms and garlic, with sprouts and honey mustard. I actually made a trip to the Naval Academy one year after my graduation just to eat it again; that, and to see my little brother who was a plebe. 

Much to my horror, the Drydock Special was discontinued! I begged the cooks to make it anyway, but the necessary ingredients for the sandwich were no longer on the Drydock purchase list. My favorite sandwich in the world had ceased to exist.  

There was a time in my life when I was convinced that if I really loved something, sooner or later I would leave it behind. This view of life was probably due to having never lived in one state for longer than seven years. When I was two, I moved out of the lead painted, moldy old home that I loved, and although I don’t remember it, my parents claim I was extremely upset. To be fair to my parents, the trailer we moved in to on my grandparents' farm was an upgrade. 

I moved off of said grandparents' farm when I was seven. The hardest part was leaving my cousins with whom I had spent nearly every waking hour. The loss of my cousins sparked a strong sense of nostalgia in me that followed me all the way to the loss of the Drydock Special.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always thought I could go back to the people and places from my past, in order to relive my fondest memories. I visited my cousins, my high school friends, and I bought the ingredients for the Drydock Special, but I was never able to relive the past; especially in the case of the Drydock Special. 

Every time I tried recreating it, I ended up with an abominable insult to the memory of my favorite sandwich. Eventually I came to grips with the unrepeatability of life, and the demise of the Drydock Special served as a symbol to me of past experiences that can never be relived.

Last month something amazing happened. Drydock came out with three sandwiches as a trial for the month of September: The USS Adams, The Russian Ham, and the Old Mule Tackle. In the ingredient list for the USS Adams was the discontinued ingredient whose absence spelled the demise of the Drydock Special, fried mushrooms. 

I saw an opportunity and emailed the manager of Steerage and Drydock, Benjamin Neumann. He graciously agreed to resurrect the Drydock Special and renamed it the “Full-Bird.” My symbol of irretrievable loss will be available in Drydock for the month of October. You may not get the kind of life-altering flashback I expect to have as I bite into that sandwich for the first time in 10 years, but you may appreciate how delicious it is. I urge you to go experience what has become an iconic memory of loss and redemption for me.

One small disclaimer, my memory was wrong! The official ingredients for the Drydock Special, AKA Full Bird, included lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise and did not include sprouts or honey mustard. Apparently I changed it up. I encourage you to try it both ways. Sprouts are no longer available, but Drydock’s honey mustard still tastes the same!

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