Let me tell you a story. This is a true story. One night we were dragging Memorial, me and Paul and Jerad, listening to Papa Roach. So this was like 2006. I was, uh, nine.
So we’re just driving back and forth on the street. We might’ve been drinking shitty beer; someone definitely threw a beer at us, and then I made like I was gonna throw a metal pipe at him. This went on for hours. I grew up in the country.
So the midnight hour rises high, and we head over to McDonald’s, for ice cream. I feel like I should tell you that I never liked Papa Roach—I was in the backseat. I had almost nothing to do with any of this. So we pull up to the drive-thru, and what do we hear ahead of us, through the tinny speaker, but “no, the ice cream machine is broken.” And then the engine starts revving. And the tires squeal. And Jerad manipulates the handbrake into a burnout.
“Well, fuck this!” he says, not so much angry as he is resolved. “We’re going to White Castle.” Rrrrrrrrrk!!! And we’re off. Paul and I co-sign w/gusto. We spend most of the drive to St. Louis listening to The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which is an album I used to really like a lot before Billy Corgan revealed himself to me, personally, to be a dick.* But that was then. So we were beside all our rage about how we’d never be saved, rat in a caging it all the way northeast. We were seeing that Arch by dawn, yo. Getting on that riverboat, yo. Gambling our way down the Mississippi to our new lives.
So, we get to White Castle. First, we stopped at Wal-Mart for some toothbrushes, which we did manage to keep even as we got kicked out for some, uh, not discrete activity in the liquor aisle. It was like six in the morning at this point. And then boom! We stroll into that White Castle feeling like kings. Forty sliders, mother fuckers. Each. And we went ham. It was my first time in a White Castle. Actually, one of my first forays into seeking out interesting regional foodstuffs. Could this have been a trip that… Yeah, this was a trip that changed my life. We completely forgot to get any ice cream.
The slider is a small sandwich. It’s a smallburger. The conceit is that it slides down your throat, though if that actually happened, you would suffocate, choke, and die with your neck bent completely backward, head parallel to the ground, impotently coughing hunks of phlegmy USDA Select and bread into the air like a clogged-up garbage disposal full of forks. No, the only food that slides down your throat is eel and noodle. Eel, noodle, and some runny-ass egg. Jello, also. And soup. So that’s a slider sandwich. I didn’t name them.
I bring up the White Castle example simply because that establishment gave me my first exposure to the style, and also a pretty good day. We had the opportunity to go to Six Flags, but didn’t, because I bitched out and had to go to work that day at a pizza restaurant back in Oklahoma. So this was a pretty solid round trip. We went to the Arch with the time we had. Never have gotten in that elevator, though. I’ve been twice.
Anyway, a slider is a small burger. It can be good or shitty. I used to work for a restaurant that had fun with them, different cheeses, meats. You get a lot of room to experiment when you’re dealing with things in miniature, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat seven good smallburgers than one good, uh, Wahlburger. Or Smashburger. Whataburger. This place has charburgers, and I think it’s a front for a drug operation. And then there’s this, which, y’know what? Pretty funny. My sources tell me that for decades White Castle trademarked the spelling “slyder”. That shit is so unforgivably fucked up.
*My response to this has always been a quizzical “wait, what, Billy?”
What are you doing right now, anyway? Drinking a Monster Energy Tea and doing a puzzle. It’s 00:42 on a Thursday. I need to paint my nails.