Sizzling Sex and Bacon 3

Not to be self-piteous, but I have to say that we Muslims and Jews who don’t eat pork, and vegetarians, have it tough on this one. I’m assuming here that you, the reader, do not have reli¬gious conflicts with eating certain foods, are not a vegetarian, and do not have allergies to particular foods. Now imagine going to a restaurant and scanning the menu and not saying, “What am I in the mood for tonight?” You look at the menu and say, “What can I eat here?” Sometimes the choices are few, and, most of the time, it’s not a problem. But I can honestly say that I’ve never had the luxury of ordering anything off the menu casu¬ally—I’ve always analyzed menus.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know I had it “worse off’ until it was pointed out to me by a non-Muslim. The summer after my first year in college, I worked as an intern for U S WEST in Denver in the public relations department. I loved my job because my boss, a woman named Lisa Best, is a great person—funny, smart, motivating, and optimistic, she is everything you would want in a first boss. She gave me responsibility and expected me to perform, which I did happily.
One day, Ms. Best took our gang to lunch across the street at Le Peep, a restaurant that serves breakfast food all day. In those days, I didn’t care about my weight and was really looking forward to a short stack of buttermilk pancakes with butter smeared all over them and moist brown syrup flowing down the sides like Niagara Falls. My family and I had eaten at Le Peep often so I wasn’t worried about eating pork by mistake so long as I let our server know I didn’t eat pork.
Once we ordered, I noticed that several others in our group were ordering pancakes with a side of bacon. So I specifically pointed out in my order that I absolutely could not have bacon anywhere in my order, just pancakes. The waitress seemed not to understand what I was saying, and Ms. Best emphasized the point. A few minutes later, the waitress brought out an order of pancakes with long brown and red strips of bacon, oozing grease and juice, lying at the pancakes’ side, and placed it in front of me.
Similar incidents had happened to me before, and they are always awkward. I always wonder, as I see my server heading for me with a dish that has bacon in it, should I say something before he or she puts the plate down, or would that be rude? Usually I wait till they put the plate down, as I did at Le Peep, and I check the food to make sure I’m not seeing things. In the case of the pancakes, though they looked innocent enough them¬selves, that was definitely bacon there, at the stack’s side.
“Oh, you know, I can’t eat these,” I said nicely. As I had learned, it was best to act surprised and sweet rather than shocked and disgusted. “I can’t eat pork.” Then recalling an asso¬ciate who did order bacon on the side, I asked the server if she wanted to give this order to her.
“Well, hers is already being prepared. Why don’t I just take the bacon off this one?” The waitress’s hands moved towards my plate. “Well, you see, I can’t eat these pancakes because the juices of the pancakes and bacon have already mixed, and I can’t eat anything that’s touched the bacon.” The waitress held the plate in her hand now. I offered, “Why don’t you just leave this plate here, and I’ll just order another stack of pancakes?” That way I would know I was getting a new set of pancakes and not the same set with the bacon removed.
And then an argument ensued. The waitress defiantly shifted the plate of the illicit pancakes and bacon to her palm and moved it closer to her head: “I don’t see why you can’t eat it. It’s all cooked on the same griddle!” I was speechless for a moment with this point. It is true that cooks can do whatever they want in the restaurant kitchen. For all I know they’re washing their hands with lard. I replied, with enough meekness to keep a fight from breaking out, “I know that, but I’d just prefer to eat fresh pancakes.”
Throughout this meal, I could feel Ms. Best’s body tempera¬ture rise as she became more annoyed. No one appreciated the waitress’s attitude, but I was used to it. This had happened to me before, and I was prepared to deal with it.

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