Burgers and Ink | Teen Ink

Burgers and Ink MAG

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

When I was five years old, my favorite food establishment was Steak ’n Shake. If my brother and I were fortunate enough and we had behaved somewhat well during the week, my parents would reward us with a Friday night outing to my favorite hamburger joint. In addition to the food, my younger brother, Eli, and I also liked to play the lobster claw machine that sat in the front of the restaurant.

As my mom’s huge, white Chevy Suburban wheeled into the Steak ’n Shake parking lot, my dad reminded her to keep the family tank on all four wheels. I didn’t care if the car arrived on one wheel or four – as long as we made it. 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.

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, 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 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 to the claw, assessing which could reached and delivered as our prize. As the older brother, I played first. I was a master at this game and quickly secured my prize – the cheeseburger pillow. Eli took forever to 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 restaurant. My eyes soon stopped on a beast of a man with a long beard, who wore a red bandana around his head and a sleeveless shirt. Brightly colored tattoos were inked all down his arms. My fascination grew stronger as one of my mom’s favorite rules rang in my head. I marched over to his seat shaking my index finger at him and exclaimed, “You should never write on your arms!” Wanting only to help this stranger, I snatched the napkin from his lap and dipped it in his glass of water. I then began to firmly scrub his arm with the wet cloth.

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 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. When my mom yelled my name, I snapped back into reality. She stood at the door, holding it open. I zipped out of the restaurant and got ready for the ride home. There would be no second chance today.

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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