For the Love of God, No Tomatoes

Published Sunday, June 3, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

This is another short for my Creative Nonfiction course. The theme was food, and instead of writing about a family recipe or my favorite dish, I decided to take more…realistic approach to my relationship with food.

Here we go again. The waitress approaches our table, her face changing from a frown into a cheesy grin with every step she takes. She stops in front of us, whips out her notepad and pen, and drawls, “Hi, I’m Kelsey, and I’ll be taking care of you today. Are y’all ready to order?” My mom’s order is short and sweet. She wants the Red Robin Whiskey River BBQ Burger, exactly as is. Waitress Kelsey smiles and turns to me. I sit up a little taller, bracing myself for the onslaught of questions and the almost imperceptible eye roll that I know is coming. I begin, “I would like the Bacon Cheeseburger…”

Waitress Kelsey stops writing, and begins to stuff her notepad back into her short, black apron. At this point, I could just keep my mouth shut. I could let her walk back to the kitchen and holler my order to a grease stained cook. When she returns to the table, I could politely thank her and dutifully pick off the onion shreds, the quarter-sized pickles, and the tomato slices with the edges of my fingernails. I could even go so far as to use a French fry to slide the excess pickle juice, rotten seeds, and pinkish slime off of my lettuce and out of the trenches in my ketchup.

But I know from experience that this ritual will not suffice. The bitter tang of the raw onion will pollute my lettuce slices. My precious bacon strips will absorb the pickle juice and turn sour. The tomato guts will mix into my ketchup and give it a goopy texture. No, keeping quiet will not do.

“Um, I’m sorry, but can I get that without onions, pickles, and tomatoes?” Waitress Kelsey’s eyes roll back into her head, only slightly, and she repositions her tools.

“No onions, pickles, or tomatoes?” Yes.

“Do you want lettuce?” Yes.

“Do you want cheese?” Yes.

“Do you want ketchup?” Yes.

“Okay, I’ll get that right out for you.” Thank you.

Fifteen minutes later, Waitress Kelsey returns to our table, tray balanced on an outstretched hand. She places our plates in front of us, warning us that they are warm, slaps a basket of French fries on the table, and promises to check on us shortly. I wrap my hands around my bacon cheeseburger, trying to keep the lettuce and bacon from falling out, and bite into the burger. Instantly, my taste buds detect an intruder. I stop mid-bite and remove the bun to examine the burger. In the center sits a red, thick, oozing tomato slice. I peel it away from the other foods and place it delicately on my plate. When the waitress returns and asks how our food is, I sigh and say, “Fine.”

***

For those of you who would condemn me for being a “Picky Eater” — please read this for my rebuttal to all of your idiotic arguments.

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2 comments on “For the Love of God, No Tomatoes

    • After reading your piece, I can see why mine reminded you of it. I feel like our tones are similar, in regards to the mediocre (at best) service and the shallow, impersonal environments.
      You can see my impending comment for more of my thoughts. 🙂

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