Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How to say: "I think we should see other people"

Valentine's Day is February 14, and people everywhere are looking for that special something for their someone special.

I submit the following pic for those of you who have been unable to find just the right way to say that you are tired of your current relationship.

For those of you who may not be familiar with White Castle, they're the fast-food restaurant of choice for those times when McDonalds just seems too formal. They sell small hamburgers, called sliders, and they sell them in quantities. I am told you can order a "sack of 30" sliders without the cashier batting an eye.

To my knowledge, I have only been to White Castle once in my life: in the middle of the night following an illicit trip into Chicago during high school. Although the food was cheap and I was poor, I can recall no reason why I would ever have gone there again.

If you've clicked on this image to embiggen it, or have exceptional eyesight, you may have noticed that the sign is advertising Valentine's reservations. Once again, I have to apologize for somewhat poor image quality, but this was snapped with a phone from a moving car as my friend Rich and I drove by during a lunch break.

After returning to work, I used the same phone to call the number on the sign. I suspected they were being funny. If they weren't, I had questions.

They were not joking. The nice lady I spoke to never once betrayed any sign that this was a fun way of recognizing White Castle's status in the restaurant pantheon. It was clear that she believed this was something the company should have been doing all along.

I learned that reservations are being accepted for the period from 5 to 7 PM on Valentine's Day, during which time they are offering table service for groups of two or four. I was told that they will have candles and tablecloths, so it's very fancy. I asked about more romantic touches: flowers and chocolates perhaps? You can bring your own. Champagne? It will not be offered and you cannot bring your own unless it is non-alcoholic. There are no changes to the menu, and I was told that a sack of ten sliders costs $5.10 before tax. But, of course, classy visitors to White Castles offering table service should expect to leave a tip.

This particular WC is located in a largely industrial area. Aside from the Payless Shoe Source visible in the photograph, the other neighbor is a Taco Bell, situated on the fringes of a strip mall which no longer has an anchor since a large chain grocery store closed down several years ago. This is not an area where this sort of thing can be easily explained away as being kitchy.

This Valentine scheme would make more sense in Wicker Park, where the hipsters shuffle to and fro exchanging expressionless head flicks by way of greeting. There are people in that area who seem to be unable to enjoy anything which they aren't also mocking. I could see them taking advantage of this. Some of them can even chew ironically.

It is my understanding that White Castles everywhere are taking part in this experiment. You should probably book soon, though. A lot of couples break up on Valentine's Day, and this might be the hot place to do that this year.


Ms Melancholy said...

Oh funny! It reminds me of the time we had an American exchange student staying with us. He fell head over heels for a fellow student (British) and took her on a date - to a 'Little Chef' situated on a very busy roundabout in a pretty rough part of Manchester. Your British readers will know why this is so funny! She refused to see him again and it was left to us to explain why this was so inappropriate for a first date. Poor bloke. Culture is such a strange thing...

Unknown said...

I can't make up my mind if this is thorougly tragic or totally hysterical. I think I'm going with hysteria though...

Julia Buckley said...

More trashy than Maccy D's? Either your McD's are a lot nicer than the ones over here, or that place is very nasty.

Anonymous said...

To Julia: You may have noticed that the post refers to the "joint" at one point by the initials "WC". Possibly a Freudian slip but apparently appropriate.

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The Moon Topples said...

Ms. M: I read about Little Chef over on Julia's blog a while ago, so I can see the parallel. Poor bloke, indeed. We Americans never learn to ask questions, do we?

Atyllah: Hysteria is probably best. Keeps things from seeming so utterly beak. Bleak! I mean bleak.

Julia: Our McDs are not in fact nicer than yours. WC is just that bad.

SilverTiger: I didn't think anyone was gonna notice the WC thing. I thought it best not to point and wink at it, though. You're quite perceptive. Not sure why your comment is only for Julia, though.

He Who Does Not Subscribe said...

Well, Mr. T, I dont know about you, but I am choosing Taco Bell instead for my romantic interlude. My woman just loves the burrito there.

Suze said...

My first thought, "oh so tacky!" Truth be known, in poorer days this might have been a romantic gesture. A package of ramen is a cheap alternative too. Aren't those things still 10 for a buck? Why do I mention this? Cause it happened to me! I even married the "bloke". Big spender? No. Romantic? Yeah. (you had to be there, I guess) It's kind of like getting a cigar band for an engagement ring. On a lighter note, the WC romantic interlude needs just one extra touch of romance. How about a subscription to the National Enquirer... Whadya think?

Liz Dwyer said...

White Castle is sooo gross. I also haven't had it since high school and I couldn't finish one measley burger back then because I was like, totally going to barf.

I do think it would be hilarious for a guy to take his girl there...watch how pissed she gets, and then give her some piece of fantastic jewelry right there in the White Castle. I'll bet the girl wouldn't give a darn where she was then.

Nikki Neurotic said...

Well, everyone I've ever talked to who has been to White Castle has spoken very highly of it...as a fast food place. I don't think anyone would take a date there though, especially on V-day.

kj said...

hello, i come to you by way of ces' blog. i was bent over laughing from the first click--unbelievable. in the boston area, this chain has been around for years and years. and because the burgers are greasy, i don't recommend formal attire over valentine's day..


heartinsanfrancisco said...

Year ago, when I lived in the West Village, the neighborhood White Castle was known as the Bucket 'O Blood. Many people were mugged and murdered on its hallowed premises.

I didn't know it was still around, but I'm sure it has its niche, maybe right above Carl's Jr. for those who are nervous about their manners in Mickey D's because they like to dip their fries in a puddle of ketchup on the floor of their pickup trucks.

After all, Valentine's Day is special.

Anonymous said...

The Moon Topples: Not sure why your comment is only for Julia, though.

Firstly because of her suggestion that the catering establishment in question must be pretty awful ("like a toilet", as we sometimes say hereabouts) and secondly because I thought that American readers might be unfamiliar with the term "WC" meaning toilet, lavatory or, in their parlance, "bathroom". Seeing it addressed to Julia, they might twig that it was a Britishism.

One of those things easier said than explained.

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