Humor by Michael Showalter

One night, a few years ago, three of my buddies and I went out for a burger. We had a great time and after the meal we decided that it was such a success that we should do it again. We called ourselves "The Burger Boys." Every week from that point forward, we'd assemble at a restaurant that served hamburgers, we'd all order one, we'd eat it, we'd converse, we'd pay, we'd agree on the time and the place of the next burger, and then we'd go our separate ways.

As news of The Burger Boys spread, so did our membership. Every guy we knew wanted in. There were only two qualifications for membership: You had to be a guy, and you had to eat a burger. The Burger Boys were legend. But, as they say, all good things must end. The Burger Boys were growing too fast and new classifications were being created to maintain the sanctity of the club.

The four of us who were at the original get-together called ourselves "The Inner Circle"; the guys who were at the second dinner were known as the "The Outer Circle." New members were now called "Untenured," "Adjunct" or "Junior" Burger Boys.

One time, an Inner Circle member brought his wife to the meal. It was considered an outrage. The meal was deemed "an unsanctioned Burger Boys get-together." But it was too late. Wives and girlfriends were becoming a regular fixture at Burger Boys gatherings to accommodate them we began handing out "Honorary Burger Boy Degrees" to women. That way the meals could remain "fully sanctioned."

Then, news spread of a splinter group that had formed in the Outer Circle. There were three guys trying to watch their weight. They called themselves "The Turkey Burger Boys" and they all sat at one end of the table. A couple of guys who did not eat meat caught wind of this and created "The Veggie Burger Boys." The Veggie Burger Boys often sat a different table entirely and were thought to be quite standoffish.

Untenured and Junior Burger Boys were clamoring for full membership, but their requests were not granted. The Inner Circle considered itself to be like The Supreme Court and the only way for an Outer Circle or Untenured Burger Boy to become Inner Circle would be in the event of death or retirement.

Eventually, certain members of The Outer Circle created a short-lived opposition called "The Hamburger People." The Hamburger People were fast out of the gate and generated a lot of interest. They had an "all-inclusive" philosophy, but The Burger Boys was still the more powerful and better-attended organization, even with its strict membership codes.

Still, we were coming apart at the seams. People were now beginning to order other things besides hamburgers: spaghetti, chicken, fish -- and even salad.

Worst of all, The Inner Circle was beginning to come apart.

It was revealed to me that two members of The Inner Circle had, in fact, had a burger together the week prior to what I had been led to believe was the original First Burger were now secretly calling themselves "The Founding Core," also known as "The Magma Team."

Outraged, I and the other guy who was at the supposed first burger, retaliated by creating our own secret classification known as "The Mantle & The Crust." It was never revealed, even to ourselves, which one of us was the mantle and which the crust. The Magma Team was now hosting a new weekly meal: Taco Tuesdays. The Mantle & The Crust countered with Hoagie Friday. The writing was on the wall. The death of The Burger Boys was imminent.

Our friendships had fully dissolved. Truth be told, Hoagie Friday was a train wreck. So was Taco Tuesday. The Turkey Burger Boys lost some weight and started wanted to eat normal hamburgers again. The wives and girlfriends started a book club. Nobody liked The Veggie Burger Boys to begin with. A treaty was enacted and called "Dinner with friends." Anyone is invited and you can order whatever you want. Order has been restored. At our next gathering I am going to propose that I be named "Imperial Ruler" of this club.

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