Visions At White Castle

by Zoe Pollock

A Brooklyn vegetarian, Dave Kim, learns a variety of lessons from the old burger establisment. This one's filed under How White Castle Explains Legacy:

The liveliest time to visit White Castle #100034 is after midnight, when the runoff from two nearby bars come staggering in. The late-night clientele are nothing like the baggy-jeans-and-chains crowd one sees at dinner or the small families and traffic cops who drop by at lunchtime. At 1 a.m., when I stop by for some cheese sticks, the place is crowded with tattooed twentysomethings in cutoffs and Ray-Bans, discussing music video shoots and Adrien Brody sightings. One man orders a cardboard suitcase filled with 30 cheeseburgers and rechristens it “the Bolaño” because the price works out to be $26.66.

I notice the four killers in the last booth, all ladies who have to be at least 70. They sport knit sweaters and polyester pants and wear their hair in finespun bouffants. The oldest has on a black wig that’s not fooling anyone. From their accents I can tell they’re the real locals, the descendants of Italians and Eastern Europeans who’ve lived in this neighborhood since World War I. The women eat their miniature apple turnovers ($0.85) and watch the action.

“What are these kids doing here so late?” one of them asks, and I’m tempted to pose the same question to them. We’re pissing away our youth in bars and burger joints, ladies. What are you doing here? Except White Castle has been around since 1921 and these women have probably been eating WC sliders since before we were born.