Now, I could take this story in several directions. I could explain that, for example, having grown up in California and only visiting one of their locations this year – the year I turned 50 – makes me a very late adapter.
And I could even clarify that although I do still call myself a Californian, I actually align my allegiance to Northern California – specifically the San Francisco Bay Area – and that actually I left 18 years ago, long before IN-N-OUT expanded beyond their original territory of Southern California.
I might also add that neither my brother nor his wife had ever eaten there before, either, so it was a first for them, as well.
Or I could take a very different approach and mention that I now live with a vegan who is an amazing chef and that I rarely eat burgers.
On the other hand, I could simply tell you that we stopped because we were on a road trip and it just seemed the thing to do and that might be the end of it.
But the interesting part, you see, is entirely different. IN-N-OUT is actually beside the point, the real story is that it was the first time I ever had a burger of any kind with my brother.
Yes, I’m 50 and he is 51 and we’ve never had burgers together. And no, we didn’t grow up in some sort of meat-free hippie commune that we’ve just escaped to taste the freedom of fast food and ground beef.
No, this was actually one of many firsts for my brother and me. Just the day before, he took my arm as we walked in a parking lot and said, “this is the first time I’ve ever been to the grocery store with my sister!” and we rubbed shoulders and giggled.
In fact I just met my brother – my biological brother – for the first time in the middle of August 2014. Raised in different families, we’ve only just found each other this year and it is a remarkable thing to meet a sibling in middle age: a remarkably wonderful thing.
Noticing similar mannerisms or how many things we have in common – foods we like, music taste and talent, our quirky sense of humor – is somehow like catching a glimpse of oneself at an odd angle in a rear-view mirror. We even realized that we’d been in bands with the same name (Cross Talk) albeit in different places at different times, but still it is a strange coincidence.
I am certain this was the first of many visits with my brother, and the first of many more “firsts” to come. None of us, however, felt we had to return any time soon to IN-N-OUT. Turns out we both prefer McDonald’s fries – who knew?! It must be a sibling thing.