Secret Sauce

Okay. I’m going to do it! Today is the day that I’ll break up with Jim. It’s been a long, boring ride of 6 months and I think it’s time I cut him loose. Here I am standing in front of our usual dating location on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Honestly, who schedules dates like this? I like this place okay enough, but come on! Break up the routine!

I’m standing outside the doors of The Stand waiting for Jim to arrive. I practice in my mind how to go about the break up. I should be kind, but firm. That way there is no getting back together. I should do it after dinner so we don’t awkwardly sit there. Maybe once we order the dessert shake I can tell him. I know he’ll order one, he always orders a shake at the end of the date to share. I’m staring out to the street deep in my thoughts that I don’t realize he comes up to me until I hear him cough.

“Hey Jim,” I sigh, “you’re a little late today.”

“Hey Paige,” he greets me with a small kiss on the cheek, “I had to take care of a few things before I came.” He looks around quickly as if waiting for someone and then breaks into a smile as he looks back at me, “How about we order some standards?”

We step inside the small restaurant and look at the small menu. I already know what Jim will order…

“I will have the standard with bacon, grilled onions and jalapeños. We will also get a shared order of fries.” He steps aside and let’s me order.

“Mmm I think I’ll get your mini standard with bacon aaaaand,” I think a little more and decide, “why not? Grilled onions!” I know I wasn’t kissing anyone tonight. “Oh! And some extra standard sauce for the fries!”

We grab our free cups of water and decide to sit outside while we wait for our meal to arrive.

Jim is unusually shifty today. I take into account his appearance for the first time today and realize he is dressed quit sharp today. Dark jeans, a dark green vest with a white shirt underneath. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and I noticed a scrap that looked rather raw. I peek at his shoes and his normal New Balance shoes aren’t on, but some shabby dark grey casual shoes. I peer at him more closely and notice his hair is parted to the side instead of its usual mess. He actually put some effort in today.

He’s so aware of our surroundings that he doesn’t notice me dissecting his appearance. I decide to break the silence and say, “So what did you have to do today that you were late?”

“Hmm?” He says trying to concentrate on my face. I can still tell he was on edge.

“I said, what were doing that made you late?”

He coughs and looks away as if embarrassed and says, “Oh I just had some business in town and it ran a little later than expected.” He looks at me then away again with the same anticipation as if someone was hiding in the bushes.

I nod and just decide to look at the vines growing on the walls since their growth seemed less ominous than Jim.

Once the food arrived I was grateful so I could get this break up over with! As always, the burger came wrapped and grilled to perfection! If anything, Jim knew how to pick a great burger spot.

I started to bite into my burger and Jim seemed so serious. He hasn’t begun to eat and it was discerning.

I swallow, take a drink of water and ask, “You okay Jim? You seem distracted,”

He shakes his head vigorously and replies, “Oh I’m great!” And takes a large bite into his burger.

Whatever. This will be over soon anyways.

About half way done with my burger I decide to dig into the fries and take a nice large helpings of the secret sauce. I sit back in my chair and decide to contemplate how I should start this break up.

Suddenly Jim gets up, “I’ll get us some refills on water.” And he went inside. So weird. I wonder if he can sense this break up? Did I put up that vibe last night when he confirmed with me about this date?

He returns and sits quickly and begins to say something, but then let’s it go. He instead takes another bite of his burger. I continue to eat the fries and sigh.

“Paige?” Jim says softly. I look up at him and see that his eyes are soft and his forearms are resting on the table. I cock my head to the side and say, “Yea?”

“I… I have to tell you something and I don’t know how you’ll take it.” He looks away for a brief second and then back at me, “I want you to know that I do care about you and know that I in no way, wanted to hurt you.”

Oh goodness. Is he trying to break up with me?

“Please know that everything I’m about to tell you is true,” he takes a drink of water, clears his throat and I can feel my fury build as he prepares to break up with ME first. The nerve!

“I am…” Wait! Did he just go into a British accent? “I am a British spy.”

I stare at him and breath in deeply. “What?” I squint my eyes and look up at him.

“I am a British spy.” There’s that accent again! He says it to matter-of-factly that it ercks me to my core. As if I was supposed to take his word for it. I laugh and begin eating my burger again. “HA! Funny Jim!” I take a huge bite and shake my head.

He rolls his eyes and begins to explain, “I was sent here 2 years ago to watch this drug lord who’s been trafficking illegal drugs and weapons to people all over the world.’

“British intelligence has been trailing him for years to stop all the weapons from entering the UK, but he’s a slippery guy to catch so we’ve joined with the US to bring him down, and this is the closest we’ve gotten in 4 years!’

“He flips the burgers here at The Stand as an alias to keep his profile low, but now he’s caught on to me because I was ambushed by a few of his blokes an hour ago and I think my cover’s been blown.” I look back at the fresh wound on his forearm and swallow hard. I put down my burger down and wipe my hands on a napkin.

I breath deeply and say, “That doesn’t make any sense. We’ve been dating for 6 months. I feel that saying your spy or even British would have come up in a conversation.” I’m still skeptical, but a few memories come to mind…

The personal defense lessons we took. Probably the least boring thing we’ve done.

How he killed it in trivia about British history on that scavenger hunt.

He always drank tea and never coffee.

But that doesn’t mean he’s a spy! It means he’s crazy! And maaaaybe British.

“Ha ha Jim,” I say sarcastically, “You know, you had me going for a sec, but there’s no need to go so far. How did you get that scrape anyways?” I start to eat the fries again. Denial is the game I’ll play.

“Look,” he takes hold my hands and looks directly into me eyes, “I wish things would have been simpler, but I needed to have a cover. An American girlfriend seemed perfect. I needed a reason to come here and watch him.” He sighs and quickly glances inside, “If they notice that I’m here with you often and they might think you are involved.”

My heart starts to beat faster.

“I have to take you with me. We have to run and go to England where we can be given protection. Do you understand?” He looks back at me, “You are in danger.”

I pull my hands away and look around. Paranoia starts to creep up my spine as I feel a shiver run through my body. I can feel myself taking short breaths.

“Stay calm Paige. I will protect you, but you have to trust me.” I glare at him.

“You will protect me?” Now anger builds, “First, you come and take me out and we date. You seemed like a boring American,” I spit out, “guy who wanted to eat at the Stand all the time!” I begin to shake and stand, “And now you tell me your an English spy and my life’s in danger?” I stand up to leave when he grabs my arm.

“Paige please!” He pleads, “I am your only hope to survive this! They will capture you and torture you with the thought that you knew who I was this whole time.” He looks intently into my eyes and I sigh resigned. This break up has me exhausted.

“Assuming that you’re telling the truth,” I say harshly, “what do you suggest I do?”

“First we have to get you to safety in England, then we can go from there.” He looks away again as if hearing something, “It’s time to go.” He abruptly turns and starts for the door.

I hastily grab my purse and begin to leave but stop as Jim walks inside. I look around trying to decide if I should follow. This can’t be real! Jim is so boring! Then again, everything fits if I really think about it.

Jim pokes his head out from the inside, “Please, we need to hurry!”

I decide to follow Jim out the door and into his new car. Another new piece of news; Jim no longer has his old Elantra but a new Audi sports car. As he speeds away from The Stand I remember how I wanted to break up with Jim. How I wanted someone more exciting and now here I am going to England apparently.

“I’ve never been out of the country, Jim.” I say softly.

He puts a hand over mine and looks my way, “I’ve got you Paige, ” his eyes soften and I know he means it. He breaks into a smile and says, “You should also know that my real name is Aspen.”

Goodness, even his real name is cooler! I give a small smile back and squeeze his hand. If anything, this should spice up our relationship at least!

My Personal Review

I visited The Stand a few years back due to an article I read about great Arizona burgers. When I initially visited the location, it was late, raining and I was STARVING (I know, no surprise there) so when I ate my first burger, it tasted like heaven in a bun.

I then returned when I was clear headed and ready to enjoy a burger and fries with better perspective. Upon my second visit, I learned how to order here a little better. You could just sense the newb in me the first time.  The Standard is a double patty burger and has no cheese. You have to ask for a Standard with cheese. It’s important to me that my burgers have cheese.  Just so you know, you CAN order a single patty Standard; it’s called the Mini Standard.

So my entire order was; a Mini Standard with cheese, no raw onions, bacon and grilled onions, with a side of fries, double secret sauce and a dulce de leche shake. Don’t judge me…

Now this mix of a meal was just… stunning! The meat itself is so buttery soft and juicy! They tell you what’s in it on the menu, so I won’t bore you with those details, BUT the important thing to note here is it’s delicious! The buns are ever so slightly toasted and I want to say it’s potato bread? But I’m not 100% sure… the ingredients are fresh, crisp and oh so tasty! And what makes it better is that it’s neatly wrapped in a white paper to hold all the yummy contents inside!

The fries may not be pretty, but looks can be deceiving because these are magically created to be paired with their secret sauce! Oh my gosh the sauce!? It’s in your burger too, FYI… it’s this tangy, sour, salty orange sauce that is the perfect alternative to ketchup and even ranch! Try it and fall in love!

I’ve also heard good things about their shakes. In particular, the dulce de leche shake!  It was so impeccably made with the right amount of thickness and wasn’t  too sweet.  I had to focus on not slurping that bad boy up before the burger came out. It’s just THAT good people!

I have visited The Stand enough times to know that they deliver a consistent product with their made to order food. You won’t be disappointed with these burgers! They also have tacos… but I just have a one track mind for burgers. One day, I’ll get a taco, but for now, I’m happily ordering mini standards!

3538 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, Az 85018

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