Sunday, November 24, 2013

Four by Four

The other day I was brainstorming for ideas, and one in particular stuck out to me.

I give it to you now.

The day was my sixteenth birthday. As a gift, my parents had me excused from school and my dad took me out to several places, as per my request. 

First stop was the DMV. I had already scored an 88% on the driving test about two months prior, and I was just now barely getting around to getting my learners permit. I pugnaciously pouted my way past the picture portion of the process (heh heh, alliteration), and received eligibility to drive as a reward.

Next up was GuitarCenter. One of my strings had inexplicably snapped a few days before, and I was anxious to get back to jamming out. Whilst there, I admired all of the different styles and designs of guitars, and picked up a capo.

Afterwards we went to a library of sorts. It had plenty of books, but of sheet music instead of stories. I found one chock full of popular movie songs.

Finally, the fateful stop.

We went to In-N-Out Burger.

While my dad and I were driving around, he told me of a legend he heard of on the internet. There was, allegedly, a mythical sandwich at In-N-Out that was a quadruple cheese burger. According to tales floating around, this monster burger was as big as a newborn's head, and even more tasty. My teenage stomach rumbled, as my metabolism yearned for a challenge.

As we pulled up to the restaurant, in my mind I heard old-fashioned western music playing. This was to be the quintessential teenager vs. food stand-off, and it was to be epic.

We patiently stood in line, waiting for our turn to order our servings. My dad ordered the double double, and I leaned over the count and whispered: "I'd like a four by four, please."

The cashier's eyes got wide. 

"The what?"

With slightly more confidence in my voice, I said a little louder: "I would like to order a four by four."

Before my order, there had been music playing over the radio, and the background noise of customers conversing could be heard. After the words rolled off my tongue, the whole of the restaurant went silent. The music went dead, the noisy ceiling fans were quiet, and a screaming baby clamped it's mouth shut.

The cashier, labelled Stanley by his name tag, shrunk back, and gave me the opportunity to back out of my request.

"Are you sure you want one of those?"

Undaunted by the circumstances, I responded in the affirmative.

After a breath of hesitation, he replied, "As you wish."

He printed out our order and brought it back to the kitchen. As my dad and I took our seats, several faces of workers looked out the kitchen windows, wondering in concerned awe who on Earth would order the Goliath of burgers. Their wandering eyes fell upon my lanky 6' 2" mass, and they quickly cowered back, getting to work on the mammoth task before them.

As we waited, a man came up to the counter and asked Stanley sheepishly, "What's a 'four by four'?"

I half expected Stanley to say "Satan spawn," due to the actions the restaurant staff held in response to it, but he quickly replied, "A burger with four patties and four slices of cheese, and weighs about two pounds."

The newcomer customer did a double take between me and Stanley, and incredulously said, "In the name of all that is holy! Give me something half that size, and I might finish it!"

I was skeptical, as my dad and I patiently waited. Surely these reactions are just exaggerated... right?

I don't believe in internet rumors. Mostly never. But when our food arrived, I thought there was a mistake. We ordered a total of two sandwiches, not five.

But it was correct. My dad picked up his double double, and I simply sat and stared at the baby-head sized burger sitting before me. 

The largest wrapping In-N-Out has is for the double double, so my meal was crammed into the comparatively tiny wrapping. It spilled out of the paper, looking like grease was sprayed onto it but it looked so. Freaking. Delicious.

I pigged out, I won't lie. But despite my quickened pace, my dad was sitting for a solid five minutes before I finished.

I've felt the emotion of guilt many times in my life, but this was probably one of the moments where I felt the guiltiest.

I felt as if the devil himself was scratching away at the inside of my stomach. My stomach was distended, with a couple pounds of weight pushing it from the inside out. I was beginning to understand the emotions shared by the workers of the restaurant. 

As I crammed the final scrap of food into my mouth, I felt far from satisfied. At the start of my quest, I believed this was to be the crowning meal of my teenage life. Far from it. I made a vow that day that I would never eat a meal that is bigger than both of my fists put together (fun fact: that means I will not eat your brain, should I ever become a zombie).


  1. I am now thinking of waiters tumbling down mountainsides yelling "as you wish!"
    Thank you.