A block past the theater and we are greeted by the shuffling lights of Shake Shack. We have never eaten there but it has been recommended to us.
“Is this their main location?” I ask.
“I don’t know.” Musette responds. “It’s their Manhattan location though. That’s for sure.”
“Let’s do it.” I say.
Approaching, we see a line extending well out the door.
“This is not going to work.” Musette says. “We need to think of something else.”
Turning around to plot another course, we notice a conglomeration of restaurants gathered on top of a New York tourism shop. It’s called something like The New York Eatery. There is a miniature Dough doughnuts and a place called Whitman Burgers.
“Let’s do it.” I say.
We cross the street and enter through an entrance located at the side of the tourism shop. Ascending a set of stairs, we pass through a door which allows no alcohol behind us. Passing by the Dough doughnuts, I head straight for Whitman Burgers.
“Please give me the literary strength of Walt Whitman.” I secretly pray, stepping up to the counter.
Musette joins me.
There is a board advertising specials. I order one of the specials which is a burger with cheddar cheese and horseradish. Musette orders the other which is a burger with bleu cheese on it.
We get a boat of sweet potato fries.
“Do you have fry sauce?” Musette asks every burger place we ever go to.
“We have a special sauce specifically made for our fries.” the girl behind the counter says. She has a nose ring and something like a sly smile, the kind which looks up at you from the predatory positioning of a stalking dance step.
“We’ll take it.” Musette says.
We also order one draft beer between us. It costs eight dollars. We ask the girl for a recommendation.
“I don’t drink beer.” she says.
“We’ll get the one made in Brooklyn.” I respond.
Musette goes to a bar seat which looks down over Time Square. I lean against an Ice Cream serving station waiting for our number to be called. While waiting, I pull up ello and work on my latest post.
The girl behind the counter hands me our draft beer which I hand to Musette. The rest of the food seems to take forever. When the girl finally calls my number, there is a problem with the order.
“Hold on.” Says the burger chef. “There’s something wrong.”
I watch him flip and swap patties and toppings.
“The orders got mixed up.” the girl behind the counter says.
“It’s fine.” I say.
The cook replaces all of the buns and puts the rearranged burgers into boxes which the girl at the register hands to me.
“Thanks.” I say.
The girl has gone back to looking at her phone.
I take the food to the bar. The sweet potato fries are burnt. It’s the first thing I notice, eating one on the way.
“They’re okay.” Musette says, dipping them in the sauce specifically made for fries which is exactly like the fry sauce Musette asked for. “The burntness adds to their flavor.”
I take the burgers from their boxes, spotting one that appears to have cheddar cheese on it, but is in fact the bleu cheese burger.
“This is yours.” I say, handing her what is in-fact the cheddar and horseradish one that I ordered.
We eat without complaint.
“It’s good.” I say.
“They’re like Little-Big Burgers, only bigger.” Musette says.
Halfway through the meal, we end up swapping because I tried the one that I gave her and noticed the horseradish taste that I had been desiring when I placed the order.
Silently eating, savoring the flavors, I stare out the window at Time Square which flows continuously beneath us. I am the type to find exhilaration and empowerment in the crowd. Being within the mass of people, time and history, the audience, the current, at the moment there is such a niceness in being almost non-existent there, wrapped in and as a sort of total existence, together as the mass. Admittedly it is no fun being reached in through to being shaken out of such a dreamlike float by either a black hand, album slanging, or that of an old white fatso scalping tickets to comedy hour, but there is also a power, perhaps to come, that moves the swaying crowd, facially recognized and with smiles cast my way.
“Do you want to get dessert?” Musette asks after we have finished our meal.