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Reflection: Just Stay Home

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Sometimes, the universe seems to be telling you to stay home.

I have had the experience, of going to four separate venues on a Friday night and finding them all closed.

I have had a storm, and car trouble, and a friend’s cancellation turn my big plans into small plans.

Sometimes it’s just not your night.

I had one such night this week.

I spent the weekend in Orlando for a speaking engagement. Then I stayed two more days just to unwind.

On Monday night, in Orlando, we have plans to go to dinner. We are at a resort. There are probably ten restaurants. But we have spent the early evening at a spa, and now it’s late.

So we go to this place that offers “Farm-to-table small plates & comfort foods.”

Think of it as Things You Eat in Ways You Don’t Eat Them.

And the best option for me appears to be a chicken sandwich, but it has “pepper bacon,” and black pepper and I are not friends. So I ask if they can make the sandwich with regular bacon.

And she says, “Uhh, NO.” And then says nothing.

And I am momentarily stumped that this is a problem, but perhaps more flummoxed by the woman’s sneering demeanor, and apparent conclusion that this was the end of the conversation.

So then I ask if they can make the sandwich without bacon. She says “YES.”

I feel like I shouldn’t have had to produce this innovation, but ok.

It came with BBQ chips, and since I don’t like BBQ chips, I asked if they could do fries. This was also a NO.

It did seem odd to me that they didn’t have bacon. I wasn’t asking for braised elk. I wasn’t requesting skerpikjot, a dried and fermented mutton made in the Faroe Islands in Denmark[1]. I wasn’t looking for some Indian Ocean based lionfish, which, though poisonous in the wild, are perfectly safe and magically delicious if properly cooked[2]. I hadn’t gone wildly and pretensiously outside the box.

This is bacon. Normal bacon, found on farms and tables throughout the land.

Here, however, was where the breakthrough occurred.

In one season, I would have figured the mistake was mine, apologized, and complied with the restaurant’s constraints.

In another season, I would have left, but left mad. I would have been offended by the woman’s attitude.

This time, we just left. We recognized that the restaurant couldn’t give us what we wanted, thanked them for their time, and decided to try our luck elsewhere.

Sidebar: I can’t speak for anyone else, but this one change in approach would have bypassed so many headaches and so much heartache I have experienced in relationships and interactions, personal, professional, commercial, and otherwise over the years.

You can’t offer me what I need in a relationship, salary, or product?

You want something radically different than I do in a friendship, partnership, or exchange of goods?

This is not a good fit. I thank you for your time, but I’m out.

So much of my anger over the years has come from getting into situations that announced themselves as untenable at the outset. I got into them, however, because I thought they were the best I could do. I got into them thinking the position was prestigious. I got into them thinking this girl was cute and hoping she would change. I bought shoes that didn’t fit because when the salesperson said I would break them in, I hoped they were right.

It doesn’t excuse transgressive behavior.

Lies are lies.

Cheating is cheating.

Abuse is abuse.

You sold me the shoe knowing it didn’t fit.

That said, in every one of those situations, the writing was on the wall.

People let me know they did not have my best interest at heart.

They showed me they were entirely willing to lie to other people.

I knew I wasn’t a size 12.

This time, instead of settling and suffering, I just left.

Which brought me to my next restaurant.

This was an Italian place. They were open, but they said the dining room was closed, and so all they would let us do is sit at the bar. This didn’t work for us, so we left.

We looked at several other restaurants. Some were closed. Some were booked.

So we are standing in the lobby contemplating our next move.

Suddenly sirens go off. These are followed by flashing lights.

And a voice comes on an intercom saying something like, please remain calm. Someone has pulled the emergency alarm. We are looking into it.

I lack the context for this moment. I’m in a big open space in a massive hotel. Is the problem a fire? An active shooter? A shortage of pepper bacon? A bored teenager with time on their hands?

After asking some desk people who say it’s nothing, but look terrified, we head back to our room.

Our last public experience of the night, however, is that the elevator’s previous inhabitants have had some kind of Slushy Drink Incident. The elevator floor is covered in sticky pink, yellow, and blue liquid, It looks like a snow cone, and smells like regret.

We get back to our room, order room service and decide to watch an Adam Sandler movie. Soon after the movie ends, I am out cold.

Now, I would love to have a nice narrative bow in which to encircle the evening.

I wish I could tell you of the danger I learned we were spared, or the life changing words we heard when we turned on our tv. I wish I could testify of the burger that topped all burgers, the fries of marital bliss that were better than any we consumed in public.

I can’t.

It was an evening.

I probably didn’t need the fries (does anyone? Really?)

I can only look at the evening as a whole and say that all the other doors we knocked on were closed, so we walked through the open one.

Sometimes, that’s all we know. Doors are closed. So we take the open one, and have an experience.

With apologies to Robert Frost, I could say, I ate the fries less eaten by, and that has made all the difference.

Or I could just watch another movie.

I pray your next evening is optimally caloric, and trouble free. May it leave no alarms triggered and no elevator evidence. May your bacon be your worst decision, and your company be your best.

And may you always wear shoes that fit.

Stay safe.

(Photo Credit: Skylar Kang)


[1] 1. Smithsonian Magazine, “Ten of the World’s Rarest Foods, and Where to Find Them,” Smithsonian.com, February 1, 2022, https://www.smithsonianmag.com....

[2] DB Kelly, “27 Seafood Items You Need to Try before You Die,” Mashed, December 9, 2021, https://www.mashed.com/187511/....

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