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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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David Spiering

Sturgeon's Big Hamburger Inn, a fast food chain located throughout the North country, has hired Kim Mulonson, a fiery dietician, to seek out and train what Sturgeon's coporate hierarchy is calling "dietary police" to sort out who can legally super-size, have regular portions, and who should "small-size."

Sturgeon's public relations director Bill Anderson released a statement today detailing how Sturgeon's corporate board's concerned about their customers' obesity and the general public health. "We want to be the people that care." Anderson's statement listed how the corporation would serve more fish, only black angus beef, turkey breast burgers, salads from around the world -- hummus and bread would be a daily staple. In the future, Anderson noted, they're adding a new line of low-carb noodles with chicken or tofu and soups from around the world.

Banished from the menu are Sturgeon's stalwarts since the last days of World War II. No more 20-pound "family-size" bowls of barbecued beef brisket, high-rise hamburgers that often contained up to eight beef patties, and payload and triple payload french fry orders, as well as the best dinner gravy north of Chicago. If you want them, you'll have to ask. Many North Country high school football coaches take their teams into Sturgeon's and feed them enormous quantities of beef to add necessary playing weight. Some of Sturgeon's customers are so fat that they must twist their bulk through the front doors. There's a joke going around about their customers being as fat as the fish [sturgeons] are long.

Mulonson says the dietary police will "be stationed in front of the counter and will look customers over and inspect their orders to make sure they aren't overeating or having something that may add more fat than necessary to their bodies," Mulonson says. "If a customer wants to super-size their order, and the dietary police think it a bad choice, then the customer can consent to a quick health test administered by a dietary officer. The test 's made up of a quick blood pressure check and a body fat check with calipers, and in the future a quick cholesterol test will be added. If any of the results are abnormal, the person will be denied the super-sized meal. If the customer still wants to super-size they will be required to sign a release form stating they won't sue the restaurant if they develop health problems."

Mike Sommer of the Upper Middle West Beef Council expressed, on behalf of the council, that "Sturgeon's is acting to avoid forthcoming lawsuits from angry obese customers who wish to try legally to place the blame on the restaurant. Furthermore, we support the rights of beefeaters nationwide to eat as little or as much as they want without any government or private or corporate private interference."

Jan Mickelsen, a longtime Sturgeon's customer, leans his bulky 6'3" frame against his pickup, attached to which is a 20-foot Lund boat. Items of fishing gear protrude like tentacles from the boat and truck bed. Mickelsen aims his index finger, arrowlike, and says, "Just let them try to tell me I can't eat three super-sized skyscrapers and a double payload of fries. I grew up eating this way, and I'm not about to stop now!"

Bill Anderson notes that the "new dietary police and the menu changes will be in place by the first of the year." He believes the public will come to respect the seemingly risky move. He says, "Other restaurants will follow suit shortly."