He’s home. My old friend is home.
When I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. I never thought he’d come back. We all thought he was gone forever. But once reality began to set in, some weird things from the past week began to make sense.
A few days before, I’d received a text from a number I did not have saved.
Initial thought: Why is Yung Berg texting me? If there was one thing I was not, it was a friend to the “Sexy Can I” singer turned Love and Hip-Hop: Hollywood cast member turned ex–Love and Hip-Hop: Hollywood cast member. But then I reread the text: “yung burg.” Burg, not Berg. While there’s definitely a world in which Yung Berg misspells his own name (see: Yung), it seemed unlikely.
So who was this? What was “burg”? Where had this person come “back” from? And finally, burgers. What burgers? More specifically, was the texter talking about the food or was he talking about it in the Theo/Cockroach sense?
Either way — whether it was a proposal for food or sexism — I was still confused about who had sent the message. But I didn’t have the number saved. And I didn’t really have the energy to make a call. And I didn’t really feel like texting back. So I just let it be and went on with my life.
Twenty minutes later:
My read receipts were on? Also, 13 years? 2002? Who had up and disappeared after freshman year of high school? I wracked my brain, searching for this person, running into dead end after dead end. Finally, I surrendered and texted back.
It wasn’t pretty.
WHO WAS THIS PERSON?
WHO WAS EVERYONE?
HAD I CHANGED?
In a panic, I wrote back. And somehow, it got worse.
That was the end of our text exchange. And not until McDonald’s posted that video, and the slew of coverage that followed, did I realize what was happening.
I was texting with Hamburglar. Which meant Hamburglar was alive. Which meant — like Simba returning to Pride Rock — Hamburglar was back.
Many people knew him as “The” Hamburglar, like it was some sort of title. But to me he was simply Hamburglar.
Boy, did Hamburglar love him some burgers. “Mama, there goes that burglar,” I’d say as Hamburglar rolled through with 17 hamburgers — all stolen. The only thing that Hamburglar loved more than hamburgers was theft. It’s what made him stand out, what made him special.
We had such good times growing up. So many burgers. So many crimes. Come to think of it, Hamburglar was my first white friend. Didn’t even know they existed until he came into my life, with that single tooth, that mask, that red hair, that love for burgers, that love for theft.
I’ll never forget when he showed up, convinced that he could turn anything into a hamburger just by touching it. It was 2001. Pain Is Love by Ja Rule had just come out and we were all listening to it at my place. Or trying to, because Hamburglar wouldn’t shut up about this thing he could do with his finger. And then, in his excitement, he touched his face.
That was one of the last times I saw Hamburglar.
The rumors surrounding where he disappeared to 2002 were never-ending. People would ask me, “Was it drugs?” and I’d always respond, “Yes, it was drugs, if you consider hamburgers to be drugs.” Some figured he’d tried to take a burger from the wrong person, while others thought it was more of a conspiracy — a sting operation to finally take down a young man who, in his heyday, was stealing 500,000 hamburgers a year.
But he never hurt anyone. He just loved burgers. And felt that he deserved burgers more than anyone else. Which was true. Because no one loved hamburgers like Hamburglar.
For months, his disappearance left me in a state of shock. But as with most things, over time, I eventually let go. After enough people hold you and say, “Hamilton’s never coming back,” you begin to believe it. So I did.
But then, the incident.
Over time, I chalked it up to a copycat, but there was still the lingering thought: Could it have been my old friend Hamburglar? It was so hard to tell; we’d all grown so much from the little burglars we once were. Since that moment, I’ve often wondered what he looked like. How tall was he? Did he still wear a tie?
Was he married?
Did he have children?
Had he learned more phrases than “robble robble”?
I thought these things, but never expected to find an answer, for him to text me, for him to come home — until he finally came home.
Hello, old friend.
You haven’t lost a step. You’re still a ham and a burglar.
You look great. I’ve missed you so.
If you read this, Hamburglar, know that I’m sorry. I know you expected more from me, but be assured I’ll never forget about you again. I hope you learn to forgive me, because there’s nothing else I’d rather do than get these burgers with you, one last time.