Squeezers 

The Nampa strip-mall-burger-joint Squeezers beams the kind of memorabilia-mad, squeaky clean 1950s optimism that most people either adore or want to incinerate. I'm somewhere in the middle, but I admit that Squeezer's clear glass tabletops and tiled floors were so glossy and Windexed on my visit, they begged for a smear of special sauce. Then again, when faced with the prospect of squeezing one of Squeezers' half-pound Big Squeeze with Cheese hamburgers into my internal organs, cleanliness was no longer a pressing concern.

That's right, el halfo de poundskie. Burgers like that are usually reserved for boxers trying to move up a weight class (De La Hoya could have used a few recently), but why even bother driving to Nampa if not to engage in a little reckless self-endangerment? Especially when the menace in question is made of ground chuck, cooked fresh rather than frozen, and grilled while I drooled but a few feet away. Drawings of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and other dead stoners stared down hungrily as my Squeeze, beer-battered onion rings and Blue Bunny Ice Cream milkshake were led out to my table by the friendly staff (who, unfortunately, were not able to tell me the inspiration for the restaurant's name).

I put the straw in my mouth, and that's when I saw it. Lodged between a drawing of Felix the Cat and a framed photo of a Chevy Nova, a mere fry-flick from Bob Marley's glazed-over grin, hung a large poster of the Vietnam Memorial. I almost dropped my straw in shock--has our kitsch-krazed kulture become so jaded that the war-dead are now appropriate as cutesy memorabilia in a retro-diner? In fact, I spent long enough blankly staring at the military anomaly that I gave myself a case of brain-freeze that felt like it had been dropped out of a B-52. My peacenik vegetarian sidecar-rider laughed, then realized what I was looking at, and made a similar face. I summed up the sentiment in my best faux-hippie voice: "These be strange times, babe."

That digestion speed bump aside, all our choices from the tiny menu at Squeezers were immensely satisfying, if simple. I complain only because a heap of grilled onions on my Squeeze would have sent me to sensory heights which even the Lizard King would have trouble understanding. The veggie burger, one of a tiny handful of non-Squeeze items on the menu, received fair praise from the Veggie-Cong. "It's big," she said. Not earth shattering, but big, and able to satisfy in a pinch--and in Nampa, vegetarians are always in a pinch.

Our numerous kilos of burger, excellent onion rings, fries and ice cream downed, I squeezed into my hotrod (which could no longer reasonably be called a "muscle car") and spent the ensuing hours wandering around Boise in a meaty haze. I fear there may still be ketchup on my face, but I can't work my arms well enough yet to make sure. Squeezers isn't quite inventive enough with their craft to stand out as my favorite burger in the valley, but it is definitely in the running--that is, when all is said and gorged, it simply hurts so good.

--Nicholas Collias can write with a frozen brain.

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