Burgers and Ink | Teen Ink

Burgers and Ink

March 8, 2019
By CatDogMan BRONZE, Dothan, Alabama
CatDogMan BRONZE, Dothan, Alabama
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Burgers and Ink

            When I was five years old, my favorite food establishment was Steak ‘n Shake. Luckily, a famous steak burger restaurant was only five or six miles from my home. If my brother and I were fortunate enough and we had behaved somewhat during the week, my parents would reward my brother and me with a Friday night outing to my favorite hamburger joint. My brother, Eli, who is two years younger, and I also liked to play the lobster claw machine that sat catty-cornered in the front of the restaurant.

            As my mom’s white, tank-sized Chevrolet Suburban wheeled into the Steak ‘n Shake parking lot, my dad reminded my mom to keep the family tank on all four wheels. I didn’t care if the car arrived on one wheel as long as we made it to Steak ‘n Shake. My only concern was how fast I could unbuckle my booster seat. Finally, my dad unhooked Eli from his car seat, and we raced inside to eat and play.

            As I entered the restaurant, smells of greasy french-fries and charbroiled burgers permeated the air. As usual, I made sure to step on the white tiles only, because the black tiles would surely suck me into outer space. As my parents found us a booth in which to sit, I could faintly hear the sound of the lobster claw machine reaching down to grab its prize. I knew I would have my turn to play the game if I ate all my dinner.  

            Our food ordered and served, ketchup poured, blessing said, Eli and I began to devour our not so nutritional food. My mom uttered her usual command, “Sam, Eli, if you eat your dinner first, then you can have two chances each at the lobster claw machine.”

            Having always obeyed my mom’s dictates, I politely responded, “Yes, ma’am.” Eli simply dunked his fry into the ketchup. After we ate, I asked, “May we play the claw game now?”

            Mom answered, “Yes, stay with your brother, and we will stay right in this red booth if you need us.”

            Eli and I studied each stuffed animal, measuring the distance of each to be sure the claw could reach and deliver us our prize. As the older brother, I played first. Because I was a master at this game, I quickly secured my prize, the cheeseburger pillow. Eli took forever because he couldn’t decide if he wanted to go for the milkshake pillow or the stuffed giraffe. While he contemplated his game plan, I found myself gazing across the mostly black and white restaurant. My eyes soon stopped on a figure of a man I had never before encountered. This beast of a man had a long beard, wore a red bandana around his head, and a sleeveless shirt with bright-colored tattoos inked all down his arms. My fascination grew stronger until I realized one of my mom’s favorite rules. So I marched over to his seat shaking my index finger at him and exclaimed, “You should never write on your arms!” Thinking only to help this stranger, I snatched his napkin from his lap and dipped it in his glass of water. I then began to firmly scrub his arm with the wet napkin.

            My parents quickly grabbed Eli and ran to my rescue.  Before they could reach me, the biker man had picked me up and began laughing, and exclaimed, “Whose kid is this?” My parents quickly came over and apologized as he reassured them that I was no problem. Soon after, I began leaping from tile to tile making my way over to the register. As I passed by the claw machine, I reached out my arm in desperation to play just one more time. Then, I snapped back into reality when my mom yelled my name. She stood at the door holding it open to be sure she saw me zip right out to get back in my seat, ready for the ride home.

The author's comments:

When I was younger, I was very michievious but also mindful of the rules. I loved Steak n' Shake, but my mom's dictates were engraved in my head. I always loved to help people, which is why I did not hesitate to help this stranger that night.

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