We are sitting in a cafe called the Red Flannel Saloon in a town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan called Paradise.

My son, Sam, knows exactly what he wants.

"A cheeseburger," he says.

I glance at the menu.

"The thing is two patties," I reply. "Half a pound. That's not a cheeseburger. That's a meatloaf."

He frowns.

"How can I come to Paradise and not have a cheeseburger?" he asks.

"We can split it," I respond. "You still will have had a cheeseburger in Paradise."

"No, I won't," he counters. "I will have had half a cheeseburger in Para­dise. That's not the same thing."

"Yes, it is," I say. "A cheeseburger, whether half or whole, is a cheeseburger. We split one. You had a cheeseburger in Paradise."

"If you say you had a cheeseburger in Paradise," he says, "people think you had a cheeseburger, not a half a cheeseburger."

"No, they don't," I say. "They wonder what you mean that you had a cheeseburger in paradise. I mean, they get the part about the Jimmy Buffett song. They don't know what you mean by paradise."

"True," he says. "Which is part of the joke. But they still think you had a cheeseburger in paradise, which you didn't."

"Yes, you did."

"No, I didn't," he says. "Jimmy Buffett doesn't sing, 'Half a cheeseburger in paradise.' "

"That's right, he doesn't. He doesn't have to. Even if he did only have half a cheeseburger in paradise, he would sing, 'Cheeseburger in paradise.' "