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?’
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.
‘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.
‘Is it on it’s way?’
‘We don’t have any gluten free bread.’
‘Were you going to tell me that?’
‘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.