Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nathaniel and His Travel Bag Go to White Castle

One of the choirs I sang with at college had a tradition where, at the start of every rehearsal, we would all take turns swapping stupid stories of the things that had happened to us that week.

Let's pretend for a moment that we're all in choir practice together.

I took a trip to my old alma mater this past weekend, but without any real timetable or plans. I'd go visit the videogame club and show up to the morning chapel service; aside from those broad objectives, I had resolved to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, for however long I felt like it. A distinct departure from the past month of working a job with frequent deadlines and regularly attempting to write about things while they're still somewhat relevant.

Perhaps the highest form of road trip freedom is to eat at whatever fine dining establishment you please. After a few months of frequently patronizing the likes of McDonald's, Burger King, and Taco Bell for one reason or another, I vowed to at least find a Wendy's on this trip. Fast food was the way to go for this trip: sit-down restaurants can get mighty lonely when it's just you and your travel bag, and there's something manly about driving with one hand on the wheel while tearing into a Junior Cheeseburger with No Pickle.

Being the infrequently adventurous sort that I am, I saw this trip as an opportunity to exfand my own horizons and try out a new food joint where, after decades of road trips, my family had never taken me. For years, I've been seeing television ads for this place called Sonic, which is ironic because the nearest Sonic is two states and an hour's drive away.

Surely, if they were advertising in a backwoods city like mine, Sonic was worth the trip.

What they don't advertise on TV is that the food at Sonic is for employees only, and that loitering outside the building causes you to spontaneously sprout face piercings. There was a drive-thru window, which made it resemble a normal fast food joint, but each parking space was actually vaguely like a stall, the kind you might find at a stable--as though our cars had horsepower because they were, in fact, real horses.

Fearful of the no-doubt sinister purpose behind these vehicle stalls, I wisely parked at the hardware store next door and walked to Sonic to investigate the premises more closely. Under the pretense of looking for a restroom, I cautiously strolled the perimiter of the building. I immediately found a restroom, which completely foiled my discreet plan. Careful not to arouse the suspicion of the natives clad in black shirts, baggy jeans, and chains with no visible function, I chose not to wander near any of the mysterious stalls and instead headed to the dining room.

Sonic does not have a dining room. Not that the place with sticky floors where you sit and eat at a Chick-fil-A or an Arthur Treacher's really counts as a "dining room," but still. Sonic consists of two restrooms (accessible from the exterior of the building, which should have been a clue) and a kitchen filled with people running into each other, and food. Probably. I saw a guy on roller skates come out; maybe they sell roller skates at Sonic. There wasn't even a walk-up window like at some small ice cream shops--if Sonic sold food, you could not buy it.

I knew something was off about Sonic from the moment I noticed there was no connection whatsoever to a certain blue hedgehog. But parking your car in a suspicious stall for a restaurant that neither serves food nor explains why it does not serve food... well, let's just say I went to Arby's instead. Because I did.

The more successful attempt to exfand my horizons was my trip to White Castle. Now, I know my family has driven by White Castles in the past, and it wasn't until I ate there that I understood why. My twin double cheeseburgers were mildly revolting, though they did grown on me after a while, like a fungus. I kid; I think what threw me off was that I forgot to ask them to hold their pickles. At least the mozzarella sticks were tasty, but then again, if you mess up mozzarella sticks, you get your restaurant license revoked.

This fast food joint had a dining room, so I took the opportunity to get out of the car, stretch my legs, and chat with the most verbal man I have ever encountered at a White Castle. I chatted with him a bit about my trip, and I think he may have misunderstood the part where I was visiting friends who were about to graduate--I wasn't the one graduating, you see--which may have been why he shook my hand when I went to reach for my change.

Nevertheless, he was friendly and called me "boss," and I like that in a total stranger. He seemed like a good guy, and the exchange completely made up for any pickles I found. Though I felt a little less special when he called another one of the staff members "boss," so maybe I lost my boss privileges by leaving White Castle. Maybe I was downgraded to "squire."

Anyburger, that's my stupid story for the day.


Clinton said...

I have actually never been to a White Castle, though one of my out-of-state friends keeps raving to me about it. I'm not even sure we have any in California. But we do have frozen White Castle brand burgers at our grocery stores, but I've always been afraid that they're not near the quality of the fresh burgers you get at the restaurant. I'm always afraid that if I try the frozen ones, it may mar the experience and soil me on White Castle burgers forever.

Flashman85 said...

I can understand how people might rave about White Castle, as the burgers I tried had a distinct flavor, but I suspect I might actually like frozen White Castle burgers better, as I'd be able to dress them up more to my liking. Maybe not.

I imagine it's a bit like how I feel about McDonald's cheeseburgers. I'm really not a big fan--I always go for the chicken option at McDonald's--but on certain occasions, a dollar menu cheeseburger tastes fantastic, and I'd take it over a "real" burger in a heartbeat. It's not the best-quality burger in the world, but there's something about it that's magical if you're in the right mindset.