How You Made Me A Bad Person

I’m going to write something in a moment and straight up it’s going to come out sounding like I think I’m a better person than you. It’s not the case, trust me, I’m so self-deprecating that I still don’t think I’m ever going to top this one day in 1984 when I received the ‘Best Cursive Writing Award’ in primary school – an award I had to make and give myself, an award deserved nonetheless.

So here it goes:

In recent months my partner and I have given up gluten.

Yep, notice how I used the partner as opposed to boyfriend and yep, we’ve given up gluten, as in, this is not an action I could do on my own, it’s something that can only be done in pairs like playing weekend tennis, shopping at Ikea and watching Mad Men Season 3.

Of course the exile of gluten from my diet is not the only one thing that might be considered ‘wanker-esque’ – I also don’t drink dairy. Yes, I refer to dairy as a drink. I don’t do it, can’t do it, won’t do it. But most café’s accommodate that these days, just as they did yesterday…

‘I’ll start with an English Breakfast tea if I can, with soy milk on the side. Thanks.’

I watched as the waitress walked away, briskly, making sure not to look back as my boyfriend and I hung mid sentence – ‘could we see a men….’

‘You’re cursed’ He said to me, as he pulled out his iPad, so as to enjoy another meal with me.

‘She probably just didn’t hear us because she’s wearing her hair over her ears.’

 

He checked his Facebook account.

I checked how my life had come to this…

With all faces checked and accounted for he looked up.

‘Maybe we should just get up and grab the menus ourselves.’

‘No, I waitressed for 25 years – ‘

‘ – really, you started waitressing when you were 8?’

‘- yes, JF I did. It was what you did in the 80’s.’

‘- endorsed child labor?’

‘- had a work ethic JF, a work ethic.’

‘And so it’s this work ethic of yours that’s the reason I’m sitting here starving?’

‘Collateral damage.’

And so as is often the case in our relationship, against my wishes JF got up, and like a Dickensian orphan went to find some menus. I wondered if the winter cold my get him and if he’d ever return….

Moments later, he did, just as the waitress placed our drinks down.

Clocking our self-secured menus she asked the question that was on everyone’s lips.

‘Are you here for breakfast? Would you like to see a menu?’

‘Are they different to the ones we have?’ I asked.

‘No’ she replied ‘Would you like me to grab you some?’

My boyfriend sensing I was well on the way to making a new best friend and couldn’t bare the competition for my affection, stepped in.

‘I think we’re ready to order actually.’

Unsettled by the uniqueness of the situation the waitress enquired ‘food?’.

‘Why not?’ I said ‘Let’s shake things up a bit.’

And it was then I noticed I been bough Earl Grey tea, not English Breakfast. Normally when presented with something I had not intended on drinking I would just smile and swallow but having just returned from the US where it’s custom to send back things you didn’t order,  I decided to mention it.

‘I ordered English Breakfast. This is Earl Grey.’

Her silence masked her confusion.

‘And?’

‘I’d like English Breakfast.’

‘That is English Breakfast.’

‘It says Earl Grey on the label.’

‘That’s how they spell English Breakfast sometimes.’

I smiled through my mouth, the way I’d been taught.

‘If you could just take it back and get me the English Breakfast that’d be great.’

‘And if we could order…’

She left before the words could leave my boyfriends mouth.

‘Really? You couldn’t have just drunk the tea?’

‘Milk with Earl Grey? Never, like sure if I had some lemon and honey on offer I could possibly make do, but look that’s not the point. The point is, I ordered English Breakfast. It has the full-bodied flavour I need this morning. I’m not the bad person here.’

She returned, only to inform me that they had no English Breakfast tea but her boss had told her that Earl Grey tea was the same. It was like comparing Britney Spears to Keisha – a waste of my time.

I won’t bore you with the details, but we ordered. Nothing flash. My boyfriend, something with croquettes and bacon, myself,  an omelette and a side of gluten-free toast.

Surprisingly our food arrived with little fuss. I felt we were all turning a corner. Mornings can be hard on anyone and I was in a mood to forgive and forget. That is until –

‘Um, I ordered a side of gluten toast?’

She looked at me, as if unsure of whether we’d met before…perhaps earlier that day…I watched as it all fell into place for her.

‘Yes, and?’

Tumbleweed…

‘Is it on it’s way?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘We don’t have any gluten free bread.’

‘Were you going to tell me that?’

‘No.’

‘Ok, glad we cleared that up.’

With her tip clearly in the bag, our waitress wandered off, leaving us to our meals.

‘Is it me?’ I asked JF.

‘I don’t see anyone else here’ he rhetorically replied.

After breakfast we wandered the streets for a cup of English Breakfast tea and some toast with a passion not often seen outside the finale of any season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’

Finally we settled on a little café that boasted a menu of quinoa’s and goat’s cheese and on the bottom just under the surcharge disclaimer, there it was, gluten free toast.

We sat down, smiling at the waitress who waved at us as we came in. With pure joy we ordered English Breakfast tea, not the Earl Grey variety, and when all was said and done and they asked me if I’d like to order some food I said ‘yes, I’d like some gluten-free toast with jam thanks.’

I kissed JF lightly on the face mouth, even allowing the waitress to linger a little longer than was appropriate to watch us, but even after our chaste embrace ended she remained.

‘I’m sorry, we don’t sell gluten-free bread.’

‘But it’s on the menu.’

‘Doesn’t mean we have it.’

There was nothing more to say. She was right…just because it was written down on a menu of goods for sale, it didn’t mean they had to have it.  And so I walked away knowing that when this story of one woman’s search for the breakfast she ordered would be passed down through generations, that I was going to come off as the wanker and years from now, they’d still be right.

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Some say I rushed my first marriage…

My first marriage ended in disaster, but in hindsight I do suppose it was doomed from the start. I had to be tied up ‘bitch style’ to a tree by my peers and my husband was sticky taped to the playground slide. Our peers said our vows on our behalf. I think I cried throughout the entire ceremony, and I was still crying when my Grade 2 teacher found me still tied to the tree 3 hours later and remarked that no one liked an unhappy bride…I still plot her death to this very day…..

Sure, Andrew and I tried to make it work, but it was a volatile relationship from day one. I was abusive towards him; he barely paid me any attention, instead preferring to stick his finger up his nose, in his belly button and eventually his anus. Four days after our vows had been imposed upon us our marriage was annulled, after I tracked down the marriage ‘ringleader’ and threatened to scream rape in the tuckshop if he didn’t put a stop to this charade.

Friends would remark years later that I rushed into my second marriage; after all I was barely ten when I found myself seduced by the old institution once again. His name was Michael. We came highly recommended to each other by our best friend. Never mind that the idea of masturbating with shards of glass was more appealing then sharing oxygen with him – it was all set to go ahead and there was nothing I could do.

The ceremony was simple enough – under the swing set with a group of our closest friends. I did not cry this time; I had taken to drinking instead. It was my only release; for again I had a husband that paid me absolutely no attention. I knew he’d only married me to get closer to my best friend. I saw the sympathetic looks people gave me; I knew what they were saying – but really, who wanted to go into double-digits single? It was just not the done thing back in my day…

The police report said I purposely threw myself off the monkey bar set – to be honest, I don’t really remember the details. It was a Tuesday, I’d had a bit too much lemonade…I climbed to the top and then stood 6 feet high over the world and finally felt something, for the first time in ages – really felt something. I vaguely remember the other children daring my to jump, and maybe I did jump – but what I do know is that I hit that tanbark hard and survived with a broken nose and two black eyes and two days later my husband left me to pursue other activities – he wanted to spend more time with his horses.

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