Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

He ate his sandwiches upside-down.

Every day, I'd make him something for lunch -- grill cheese, turkey on wheat, peanut butter and jelly -- and lay it on a plate in front of him, with a few chips, maybe, or a pickle. He'd lift the sandwich, regard it for a moment, then spin it around and start in on the butt-end.

At first I thought he'd seen some blob of mustard hanging out the back, and wanted to get it before it could get him. So I started being intentionally careful with the condiments, applying a smooth, even coat across the bread. Nothing dripping, nothing oozing. He still turned it over.

I experimented, which is where the trouble started. I put too much mayonnaise at the top of the sandwich and he still flipped it, took a bite and then wiped the splooch off his shirt. I bought rolls, without the mushroom top of pan-cooked bread, and he turned them over, too, leaving the rough underside facing up. I fed him a pocket sandwich, half a pita stuffed with chicken and lettuce, and he up-ended it anyway, tying to hold the contents in with his palms as he set to work on the underside.

I made a wonderful BLT, with thick bacon and heavy slices of tomato, and put one piece of toasted white bread facing one direction and the other facing the other. He turned the sandwich one-hundred and eighty degrees between bites.

Finally, I commissioned a local baker to create a round piece of bread, something light, a good French maybe. He ended up suspending the dough in the oven, hanging from a hook like sausage. After slicing, each piece was a perfect circular coin.

I laid a couple out ont he counter and spread some spicy deli mustard on both sides. I added thick slices of premium roast beef, brown and red, in two low piles and made sure to bring them together while he was watching -- the perfectly symmetrical sandwich, no up, no down.

I half-expected him to try to start from the center, digging his teeth into the middle of the sandwich. But that's not upside-down, is it? Or to open it up and go at it from the inside-out. But that would be more of a meat salad on toast.

Instead, he just stared at it. He turned the plate a few times and flipped the sandwich over once, but mostly he just stared at it, his brow slightly furrowed and his eyes making slow circles around the crust.

After an hour, I left the kitchen to take care of some other things.

He was still there at dinner, and still there the next day and the day after. The roast beef first turned a darker brown, and then sort of gray. The bread stiffened and curled up at little, shrinking. I never saw him sleep, and I never saw him move and when he died a few days later, they said it was from dehydration.

Now, of course, when I'm making a sandwich, I mark an explicit direction on it. Grilled cheese gets a burnt-butter arrow, pointing up. Peanut butter and jelly gets the side crusts cut off, and the top sharpened into a point. And no pita. Definitely no pita.

It's safer that way.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is I'd love to hear from you!

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