Taking the Bagel

A Bagel with Butter Should NOT Come with PATS of ButterThe truth about life lies in this pat of butter.

We can ask for what we want.

We can even PAY for what we want.

We can desire and expect it. But we won’t always get it.

Here’s the bagel I had for breakfast at my favorite Milford cafe.

I order it in this way.

Me: I’ll have a medium coffee and a sesame bagel toasted with butter for here. And I like my bagels burnt. Well, practically.

He: ummm are you SURE you don’t want to try the Vanilla Macadamia coffee? If you don’t like it, you can HATE me.”

Me:No thanks. Just regular coffee and the bagel.”

He:Are you SURE? The coffee is, like, to die for.”

[deep pause]

Me: Just the regular coffee. And the bagel.  I really don’t want to hate you.

The Vanilla (yuck!) and the Macadamia (AWFUL) managed to distract both of us enough — him then and me now. From the real point. The. Bagel.

Or more to the point:

Butter Pats and The Meaning of Life.

The bagel came and it was nearly toasted, served with four butter pats.

I spread the butter and ate the bagel and it was just fine. But it wasn’t what I wanted. It wasn’t what I expected or desired.  It was a slice of life, served on a pretty yellow plate, with a medium regular coffee.

People do have a way of wanting what the want, the way they want it, especially when it comes to breakfast bread. And ordering food out is a constant battle for satisfaction.We say “bagel with butter” but what we really mean is: “Hello. I have so many unfulfilled needs in my overstuffed life. My jeans don’t fit very well anymore and I don’t like my hair. Could you please butter my bagel for me????”

We look into the eyes of a stranger, the underpaid, also-dissatisfied person across the counter and unknowingly entrust them with our everyday luxuries. We ask for our heart’s desire, hope for the best and we are often disappointed.

A Bovine Revolt?2008 Butter Cow-Illinois State Fair from sj-r.com’

My friend Jessica, who is a vegan, is very funny and very ranty lately on Facebook. Lately she reminded us all (via Status Update) that a really good way to offend her– and the entire population of Vegan-onia– is to plan a subversive cheese attack. This is done but mixing “just a little bit”  of cheese into food served to her (or her vegan comrades) after they’ve asked for it without.

I thought of that as I was internally whining about my butter this morning. We can ask for what we want, we can even expect it, but life inevitably hands us obstacles.

Often, apparently, in dairy form.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

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  6 comments for “Taking the Bagel

  1. Andy
    August 24, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I know that this isn’t the point…maybe…but probably not, but I always ask for my bagel slightly burnt, or put through the toaster twice…about 1% of the time I actually get it that way, I feel like the 5% of people who seem to love their Dunkin Donuts job will do it, the other 95% (so it seems) will just toast the thing as fast as they can (and it is still slightly cold) and throw it at me. I like things crunchy…

  2. August 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    @Andy, They do sort of don’t listen and throw it at you, don’t they? Maybe enough people have asked for it “well done” then complained about it being TOO dark afterward… who knows? And it IS the POINT… Exactly the point!! AHHH!

  3. Karin
    August 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Could you be grateful for the bagel? For the choice of coffee? Some people don’t have money for bagels, or access to bagels. Some people don’t have a car to drive to get a bagel, or childcare while they went out. I just think there is more to uncover here than how your bagel is made. Also, I think it’s very strange that the person wanted you to hate them. How strange.

    • August 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

      Oh I loved the bagel, but I was just thinking about (and also hoped that was reflected here) how we whine about this sort of thing AND DON’T realize how fortunate we are. You know? No matter how good we have it, we are always able to find problems.

      • Karin
        August 26, 2010 at 10:15 am

        Oh, no, I didn’t catch that reflection in your post at all.

      • Heather
        August 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

        I like griping for the sake of griping. It doesn’t need a happy upside as far as I’m concerned. It takes courage to share our inner whinings!

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