Its been a long time since we had visited neighborhood burger joint. On popular demand from all members of the family, including me, we decided to satiate our hunger for “junk food” at the burger joint, on fine evening.
As we settled at the round table, I noticed something, rather someone. Cleaning my glasses, I peered my eyes in the direction. ‘It has to be him’, I assured myself. Excusing the rest three, I went ahead to check out. Bingo…here he was, Mr Norman Dudley aka Noddy uncle!
He looked the same as he was few years ago. Small and stout frame, round face with curious blue eyes and snow-white mop around the circumference of his nodding head! Nothing has changed. Except , he looked lonely and lost. Surprisingly Barbara Aunty was conspicuously missing. We had grown up with the sight of Barbara Aunty and Noddy uncle going hand in hand, every time they ventured out of their bungalow, may it be morning walk or grocery shopping or walking the dog or going out for the parties.
I feared the worst. There was only way to check out and thus I decided to go ahead. Tapping on his left shoulder, I stepped on his right side. Noddy uncle turned to his left. Standing on his right, I cleared my throat. After a moment of quandary, a smile prevailed on his face.
“Cynthia… you will never grow up! Will you?”, he chortled.
“Will I? Never…”, I opined with a wink.
“Come dear, join me. Let me fetch Cheeseburger for you”, he said while trying to get up from his seat.
“That’s so sweet of you uncle. But thanks. I was about to nibble into my burger when I spotted you”
“Are you alone? Why don’t you join me? Its been long since I met you”. He fired the questions in one breath, out of sheer excitement.
“I am with my family and they are busy munching, three tables from here”, I said pointing to the round table.
“Oh…oh. Go ahead Cynthia. I don’t wish to spoil your party. It would have been great if we could pick up a thing or two over the burger and drink”, he stated, sounding downcast.
I thought for a moment and decided to join Noddy Uncle. After all, its been ages that I had met him.
“Give me a minute. I will be back”, said I and went to the round table. Expressing my wish to spend time with Noddy uncle, I requested my gang to excuse me. Surprisingly they all agreed in jiffy.
I made myself comfortable on the chair opposite Noddy uncle. I was greeted with a bright face and a toothy grin.
“So, how’s life Uncle?”
“Going on as usual but not so good on one front”
“Hope its nothing to do with your health”
“Not even in my dreams”
“Then? Is Barbara aunty…”
“She is as fine as wine!”, pat came the reply, this time with a sparkle in his blue eyes.
I was befuddled. Checking my crossed eyebrows and dropped jaw, he said with a sigh, “It’s a long story”
“I have enough time at my hands”, I stated to clear my intention.
“Hmmm. My dad gave me three life rules to live by…
1. Pay for your drink.
2. Drink only that much as to return home on your steady feet.
3. Never have an affair.
The first two were easy, but the third one proved difficult all because of a cheeseburger. Let me explain.”
I couldn’t believe what I heard. To clear the confusion, I checked once again, “Affair and cheeseburger? I am all ears”
“It all started last year. I was attending the birthday party of Jason. You know him, do you?”
“Lira’s younger one?”
“Yeah, the same. He had turned five then. So here I was at the burger joint happily enjoying the celebrations. My affair started then and there. The connect was instant. Little plumper but inviting. It did turn out to be tasty affair, I must agree and my love story took off. Then on, I couldn’t resist the company and fixed a date once every week. I craved for it. I was cautious not to let Barbara get the whiff of it. You know how strict she is”
I couldn’t believe that the man in his 70’s, whom I always held as a gentleman, had fallen in love ignoring the marital bliss. I scrutinized the restaurant for finding the figure matching the description. But I couldn’t locate any that fitted the bill. Before some bitter words could pop out of my tightly pursed lips, he continued further.
“Initially, no one knew of it. But then the pull was so enormous that I started frequenting the restaurant. It was Barbara who smelled the cheese. She knows me like the back of her palm. I had no option but to confess to her. She was taken aback. She made sure that I was always accompanied by her, thereafter”
“Where is she now?”
“She had a kitty party to attend. I grabbed the chance and here I am”
“Oh…you did not mention that you were waiting for someone”, saying so I was about to get up and go.
Holding my hand and signalling me to sit back he said, “Let me complete. Let me enjoy the moment before I embark on the guilt trip”
“You better, oldie”, I whined to myself. I was in utter confusion now. Gnawing and munching his next bite, he said, “Guilt takes me over every time I think about the 3rd rule that my father had laid for me. Its not the cheeseburger to be blamed for my affair with it. If anyone has to be, then it’s me. I cant resist temptation of eating it. I miss its hot, spicy, luscious, creamy, crunchy taste. Every bit of the cheeseburger is heavenly! I know it’s not good for my health. I know I am breaking the rule and romancing the cheeseburger. But I am helpless. Have you tried this restaurant’s signature cheeseburger? Bet, you will fall in love with it too, just like me!”
I was stumped by the revelation. Some affairs are as offbeat as their queer characters, aren’t they?
I have used the 3rd Creative Prompt…“My dad gave me three life rules to live by: 1. (fill in the blank), 2. (fill in the blank) and 3. (fill in the blank). The first two were easy, but the third one proved difficult all because of a cheeseburger. Let me explain.”
Picture courtesy Pixabay