Ever want something, then realize you didn’t want it?

I have a few things I really like. Vacation trips to SoCal (nearly always to Disneyland), silly and trivial but fun events there, and a nearly Holy Grail trip to In-N-Out Burger are some of my favorites. I’m easy to please, really. Attainable fun and gastronomic happiness in one trip. Bliss.

(I’m not an expert on pleasure. I’m the weirdest extrovert you’ll meet, in that I will include everyone very happily in my public life, and by that I mean I have a blog, I tell people about all the superficial things in my life (I just had my pond filled in, and I have bored everyone at work with that), I’ve blogged a lot of things people know about, and I keep my private life and friends private. You might be surprised that things happen I don’t blog. You might not. It depends on what you know of me.)

Therefore, things I like I tend to Really Like. This explains why I go to the same places for fun. I’m sure there’s a psychological problem/answer there.

As if by magic, one of the forbidden SoCal-only objects has been deposited in my world: In-N-Out has come to Mohammed. (I’m not Mohammed, it’s a metaphor, no bombings please). My anticipation, thrill really, was shared by the family. To say we’ve followed the construction and timeline of this Parthenon of Patties would be an understatement. Never in the history of our collective, extended family has one fast food joint focused our attention so meatily.

I had the Forbidden Burger tonight! And, it was a burger. Away from its normal surroundings, the pseudo-exotic locale, it was a decent burger, average fries, and a good milkshake. (My choice is not for the calorie conscious).

I felt like I finally had a date with the Prom Queen and found out she’s a shallow, dumb person who also isn’t into me. (I’m not personalizing this intentionally, except it’s personal). I could taste the disappointment. Pun intended.

My title isn’t quite right. I wanted it, I got it, and the failure was mine. It was a good burger, perfectly adequate, served with a smile, and as close in taste as a 1,500 mile breach can be. It’s that it wasn’t eaten There, in The Place. And therefore it wasn’t right. Dang it.

Now I’ve diminished something I liked, a lot, and have learned the big lesson. Don’t screw up the things you like, and where you like things is a huge component as to why they’re liked.

I’ve lost something I’ve loved, and now at best I can like it again, in its rightful place, someday. Context matters.

That would have been a better title. I just had to work through it.


  1. Beary Potter says:

    So sorry it did not meet your expectations. It will be much better when you can go to SoCaland experience it, again, in the right location. :-)

  2. I am an expatriate second-generation Californian. I visit less frequently than I wish. When I grew up, there was a “There” there.

    Visiting what it has become always reminds me that I am homesick less for the olace than for the 50s and 60s with their endless summers, wide-open spaces to explore, and most of all, the freedom to explore them.

  3. Agree with you about In-N-Out. Was born and raised in LA back when they were only located in the boondocks off of rural freeway interchanges. Once they franchised and you could get one anywhere, they just didn’t taste as good.

  4. Aerospace Genius says:

    Interesting. I’ve had the same desire for really good TexMex and BBQ, and had to suffer through without them for 15 years. Then I stumbled across Famous Dave’s BBQ. In my opinion, it’s as good as BBQ at home in Texas, and it’s a chain, so they are semi-easy to find. Now for that TexMex…

  5. Jim in Texas says:

    I lived in CA from 1986 – 92 and loved I-n-O. I went back a few years ago on business and couldn’t wait for one of their chocolate milkshakes; meh.

    Either I built it up in my mind or it wasn’t as good as the steak and shake shakes I’d filled in as a replacement after I left the state.

    Frankly, Steak and Shakes, I-n-O, Whataburger are all pretty much the same, good but not Valhalla

  6. Beautifully written homage to burgers, longing and location! Southerners are always in love with place (and food) so I understand both your desire and your disappointment. Well done.