(NOTE: This essay was slated to appear on a newsstand near you right about now. But it was pulled at the last minute. Instead it is my Valentine’s Day post. It is 98% true. All the nice parts about my wife are 100% true. We disagree about the plate in the head, but I maintain that it is also true. Gentleman who are reading this Valentine’s Day post, you should throw that heart-toting teddy bear in the trash and plan an adventure breakfast instead.)
It It was over breakfast that I had the first inkling my wife might be the one. But this isn’t a kiss and tell story. It’s a breakfast and adventure story – one that begins with bacon and a guy with a metal plate in his head.
I was a new and rather surly transplant to Columbus, Ohio — primarily acquainted with my desk and still trying to figure out what turn I missed that took me there rather than New York — when I finally got up the nerve to ask the coolest woman I worked with what people did for fun.
A couple Saturdays later, I found myself on a morning date (although I didn’t know it yet) with my future wife (didn’t know that yet either), wandering our Victorian neighborhood in search of nothing more than some bacon.
I’ve never been a big weekday breakfast eater. Coffee, toast and a snarl are all I can manage before 11 a.m. But on weekends, it’s a different story. With a later start and time to digest, I thoroughly enjoy my weekend breakfast. A walk through my new neighborhood on a sunny September morning with a new friend who was helping me discover things I hadn’t bothered to notice before definitely added to the enjoyment.
When our walk ended at the breakfast place she picked out, it promised more excitement than I was expecting – peeling paint, an excellent old sign of a weird little boy holding a burger and the distinct smell of bacon. The bacon and eggs were unexpectedly good. The conversation was even better. And most unexpected of all, was a sign behind the cash register. It warned patrons not to provoke the short order cook because he had a metal plate in his head.
In one simple meal, I found what I had been missing from my breakfasts and my life – adventure.
After that, Adventure Breakfast became our Saturday routine, taking the two of us (and after our daughters were born, the four of us) to some very questionable spots in Ohio, Boston, Maine, Pennsylvania and beyond. There was the New Orleans breakfast that resulted in many, many, many emergency pit stops all the way through Alabama. The vegetarian breakfast with a huge quantity of charred Brussels sprouts and seitan bacon. An enormous pastrami sandwich for breakfast. Pie for breakfast. Greek, Italian, Armenian, French, hippie and biker breakfasts. The list goes on.
Along the way, I’ve learned that with a just a little effort, breakfast can be more than just something you just eat — it can be an experience. But you have to keep your eyes and your mind open:
The location should be questionable at best.
- Your arms should stick to the table immediately.
- The building, wait staff, and patrons should be well weathered.
- Only the coffee should be new. (And it should show up without asking.)
- A bottle of ketchup and a handful mini-creamers should be waiting for you.
- The menu should include at least one one mysterious pork product.
More important than where or what you eat, is how you eat it. You should be ready to jump into that breakfast with all your heart. It can take you to some pretty remarkable places.
© 2014 Michael Floreak
Michael Floreak is a writer and occasional breakfast eater based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He can be reached Michael.Floreak at gmail.com