It was a little after midnight when I got home from working at Starbucks. I worked there from the end of my Freshman year at college to the beginning of my junior year. I got a call from my best friend, Bobby. He had just watched the film “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle” and decided it was our birthright to eat at White Castle! As far as birthrights go, this was a pretty shitty one. And there so many things wrong with 2 Indian kids thinking a burger place is their birthright.
But Bobby was jet set on getting White Castle that night. I was whispering on my phone telling him that tonight might not be best night to do this, but if he was up for it we can go to Eat N Park (local diner chain) and hangout, like we always did. Somehow, despite my whispering, my mother heard part of the conversation & busted into my room to stop me from crossing state lines for junk foods. She was not whispering. After hearing my mother’s opposition to our non plan, both Bobby & I decide this was to be a planned event.
A few weeks later that’s exactly what we did. We had 10 Nerds – the name of our group – and 2 cars prepped to drive to Akron, OH. That was the closest White Castle to us. Bobby wanted to keep it authentic & go to the same one that Harold & Kumar had gone to but nobody wanted to go to Jersey.
After downing our coffees, Red Bulls, Five Hour Energies & one questionable diet pill, we were off; 5 girls in one car & the 5 boys in the other. The two hour drive consisted of a lot of jamming to the likes of Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, My Chemical Romance, Coheed & Cambria…you get the idea. We were Nerds but we were also sad boys.
About half way through the journey, we decided we were in a race. No one said we were, we just decided. So now we have 2 cars speeding down an open highway in the middle of the night to get some tiny sliders first. At one point Bobby kept pace with a Semi to make sure that the girls wouldn’t win. It was terrifying.
Eventually the truck got off at an exit & the girls easily over took us. We were now even sadder boys. But we were about to be sadder. As we approached our destination, we saw an empty parking lot & all the lights were off. They were closed. In our excitement, we didn’t check the hours of operation!
We felt defeated. That soon changed to anger. So in our fury, Bobby & I circled the building to look for a way to burn the building down. That rage quickly subsided since we were all very hungry. So we decided to go to IHOP instead. It wasn’t what we wanted but it’ll do. At 1 in the morning we livened up that quiet roadside diner.
And yes a good portion of the conversation was dominated by which anime character could beat which comic book character but we got to learn a lot more about each other.
The drive home was a little quieter. Eventually over our holiday break a small group of us, which included Bobby & I, did make it to White Castle. The trip was filled with conversations, camaraderie & more Sad Boy music! But when we got to our destination & ate the tiny burgers, we were disappointed. The drive home was a lot quieter.
I often think back on this story. Even though our first trip didn’t get us our “birthright” of White Castle, the ride there was one of my favorite times. It’d be cliche to say the “it’s about the journey” but in this instance it was. But more than that it taught me that there’s always a something good in even the most disappointing of circumstances. That trip reminds me why I became the optimist I am. And none of it would’ve happened if it wasn’t for a goofy kid and a midnight phone call.