The last time I was a human incubator of a future generation of my family, my OB’s office — a place you cumulatively spend a spectacular amount of time over the course of 40 weeks — was diagonally across the street from the Upper West Side Shake Shack, and I only ate there once. I understand if this means we can no longer be friends; I am personally embarrassed to know this about me too. Where were my priorities? I have spent years mourning this missed opportunity to not only eat a weekly Shackburger but to have made better use of my last weeks of kid-free leisurely lunches for years to come. The reason is even less sympathetic: I didn’t like hamburgers, or so I thought. They were so thick, so dauntingly large and one-note, so soft and damp inside, I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what made them popular.
In the final week before my firstborn was given an eviction notice, my husband joined me for an appointment and afterward, gently pulled me in the direction of the Shake Shack. It was the middle of a weekday and there was barely a line, if you can imagine something so absurd. I settled in for a burger and fries and … can I pause for a moment? I’m getting verklempt, guys… I had a moment and that moment was a realization that I didn’t dislike burgers I disliked those monstrous things that were all the rage a few years ago. This burger was totally different — thin, unevenly shaped craggy-edged with crispy salty bits and it sat on a tender toasted bun with a perfect sauce, thinly sliced pickles, tomatoes, a ruffle of lettuce and yet wasn’t too tall to eat a bite of without unhinging my jaw like a snake that swallowed a goat (I’m sorry, second reference in one month, I can stop anytime). It wasn’t so massive that I had to take a nap when I was done, it was my first smash-style burger and it was everything. It’s probably for the best that this guy came along the next week, because I cannot imagine the trouble I would have gotten into if I had many more excuses to eat there.