Friday, December 4, 2009

Fat Burner

Last night my girlfriend and I went to a 24-hour chiliburger place in Burbank.  It’s a stand where you park along the curb, and you just walk up and order outside.  You can eat at outdoor tables, but we were ordering to go. 

My girlfriend waiting in the car listening to John Phillips go on about the girl that Tiger Woods was seeing and that whole situation.  Meanwhile, I went up to the stand to order.

In front of me was a very quite taxi driver waiting to order.  He was Mid-Eastern and looked like he was taking a break to get some eats.  And in front of him, was a very large, and by large I mean about 6 feet tall, but really wide, guy.  He had a baseball cap on, long, bushy sandy-blonde hair, and was wearing a blue sweat jacket, and shorts.

Two things brought my attention to him; one was his hugeness.  I really thought he was a former wrestler or something; he may have been.  The other was that he was ordering his burgers with the specificity of a connoisseur ordering at a café on the Seine.  He asked for his onions to be grilled in a certain way, what needed to be added to his burgers when, and how much cooking time was needed for them.  The burgers, I should add, were triple chili cheeseburgers.  This guy wasn’t kidding.

He went over his order with the service person a couple of timers, changing a few items and methods, and was then finally moved onto the business of currency.

All of this would normally make me impatient, but in this case, because he was so specific about what he wanted, and because he had such an iconic voice, it was entertained and even hoped for more.  The way he spoke was that of a 1970’s surfer-dude; in my high school, we used to call them “burners’ or “burn-outs.”  All I have to say to you is the name, “Jess Spicoli” from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Penn lifted that character straight out of 1970’s Granada Hills,Van Nuys, and Redondo Beach.

The taxi driver ordered quietly and efficiently, and then it was my turn.  I also tend to order very surgically, having determined what I want before I get up to a counter.  So I was finished in no time.

As I was getting my straws and drinks organized to bring to my girlfriend waiting in the car, this wide guy started talking to me.  He said, “Good stuff, eh?”  Meaning that the food is good at this stand.  I concurred and added how great it was that it was also a 24-hour place.

He said, “I’m going to eat this shit in bed.” 
I said, “That sound like a great idea.  Get a DVD, pop it in an watch a movie.”
He said, “No dude, I’m just chowin’ and then gonna smoke some weed.”
Not being a weed smoker myself, I just wanted to be amiable,
 “Oh yeah, that’s the way to do it.”
He said, “Medical weed too, not the regular stuff.”
I said, “Well, there you go!”
He said, Well, I’ll see you around.”
I said, “Probably right back here some night getting more burgers.”

He chucked and said his final goodbye with a thumbs up to me and took his overloaded carton of chili-related chow on his way.

I went back to the car laughing and told my girlfriend all about my interaction.  With the car windows up, yet still able to keep an eye on me, she had wondered why I had been so amused some guy in a chiliburger line.