By Kevin Deng
I’m not from anywhere particularly extraordinary, which is probably why it was such a disappointment to both me and my high school friends when the burger shop in town, “our spot,” shut down for good. And when you’re at a lack of much else to do in the vicinity, you start to reflect—there are many different signs that change has become inescapable, but the first is when the burger joints start closing. The expectation for a given burger place is that it’s a local staple, existing second in permanence only to, perhaps, the discount liquor stores. I mean to say: where there are burgers, presumably there are people, and where there are people, the burgers aren’t far. That’s why it didn’t make sense in my head that the place was gone.
If I were to be as objective as possible, I’d say the truth is the burgers weren’t that good. The place prided itself on its long menu, which really just consisted of different subsets of the same, (only slightly) larger set of interesting (yet standard, for a burger restaurant) ingredients. All this was to distract from the fact that, if you were to look down at what you were actually eating, it was really just an overcooked piece of meat between an admittedly decent bun, with some assortment of canned or previously-frozen ingredients serving as cheap visual stimuli. Not to mention the glaring inequity that is the number of sandwiches on the menu versus the number of people that actually came in during a given dinner rush.
I guess I’m not really sure how that became “our spot.” Maybe nobody was willing to admit that they’d prefer another spot in town. Or maybe it’s a result of something that I’ve been thinking about lately: that there’s a very human tendency to ascribe meaning and sentimentality wherever we go—we care because we care because we care. And we don’t always know why, but it just feels right to do so (see: birthdays). Anyway, it wasn’t about the burgers.
Look. If there’s a point to the 400 words I’ve allotted myself, it’s this: I don’t know of any new burger joints popping up around town, but maybe some aspiring restaurant owner will decide to set up in the vacancy left by the burger shop, and give some other customer something worth reflecting on somewhere down the line.