I’m not a morning person.
It's early morning, and I’m in a well-known fast food restaurant.
Let’s call it McDonalds.
The young fella behind the desk is gazing at me patiently as I wonder what to order from the breakfast menu; I suspect his heart is back home in bed. But he wears a cheery smile, and has clearly been well trained. The row of stars on his badge gleam their agreement, though I have no idea what each represents; one of them might be for scrubbing the toilets.
I hope he’s washed his hands.
Do you have pies yet?
I know damned well that company’s unique, deep-fried pies are not on the breakfast menu, but it’s worth asking. They sometimes prepare a few ready for the shift to daytime menu.
Yes Sir! They’re just ready. I notice that he doesn’t glance to check; I like this guy, he’s quietly professional. Even his cap is on straight.
What do you have?
What pies, Sir? His smiles proudly and unconsciously touches the brim of the cap. Our standard apple and cinnamon.
I like Pie. Meat, fruit, whatever. Pie is important. Some light crust, or flaky pastry, maybe even a crumble. Plenty of filling, hot and seasoned, or cold with custard. While my mind is elsewhere, I notice that my mouth is asking another question.
Do you have blueberry?
It’s straight from the realm of wishful thinking, but having had one of their blueberry pies in the past, I’ve often hoped for their return. The lad smiles indulgently.
No Sir, just our standard apple and cinnamon.
I frown. Shame. Your blueberry ones were excellent.
They really were amazing. The banana pies I was indifferent for, but the blueberry ones were the nicest they ever did, even better than the mincemeat and custard ones they do every Christmas.
Blueberry, Sir? I’m not sure I remember those.
He really is well trained. His statement wonders whether I’m confused, mistaken or just pain lying. But his eyes are clear and friendly. Again, professional.
Yep. A few years ago, I guess, but they were lovely.
I wonder idly when it was?
Perhaps they were before my time, Sir? When was it?
It’s not intended as a slight, and I take it as meant; I’m told I have an honest face, so this is probably genuine interest. There’s nobody behind me, so we have time for a flashback.
I’m in Birmingham, in my university days. I’m lighter, fitter, and spottier. My hair is long, and I’m dressed in a white vest, a gobsmacker of an Hawaiian shirt, and scruffy turquoise jogger bottoms. I’m sitting alone in the restaurant in the city centre, contemplating the blueberry pie in front of me.
It’s cool to the touch, and I hazard a bite. And burn my mouth on the scalding fruit. Cursing, I jerk back and squirt more of the indigo purée onto my arm. Fruit burns are painful, as they don’t stop ‘til the fruit’s gone. But after a moment’s work with a tissue, a gulp of drink and an ice cube, I forget my discomfort and decide that the pie tastes really good.
And burn myself again on the next bite.
Back in the now, I realise that this was over twenty years ago. Have I really been pining for a deep-fried blueberry pie for all that time?
My focus falls on the waiting youth; he’s not yet twenty. This bothers me enormously. I easily resist the urge to go Obi-Wan on him as say,
I’ve not had a blueberry pie since… Oh, since before you were born.
The air of wisdom I can handle. But maybe I’m not ready to be old enough to be his dad. Or a crazy old hermit. Actually, there’s no maybe about it. I give him a humble shrug.
I forget. But like you say, before your time, I finish weakly, feeling very old all of a sudden. He notes my discomfort and cheers me along with an upbeat,
So, an apple pie, Sir? Cup of coffee, maybe?
I nod thankfully, blessing his good manners, and we make the transaction, ending with a typical exchange of well-intentioned pleasantries.
I choose a table by the window, and sit to watch the world go by.
The coffee is good, though the not-blueberry pie feels cool to the touch as I absently slide it from its box.
I take the first bite, and suddenly wish I’d ordered an iced drink.
I’m not a morning person.
But, despite an extra twenty years of wisdom, I think I'd find one of these damned things to be dangerous at any time of day.
This blog entry is protected by copyright © Indigo Roth, 2011/2012
Blueberry picture blatantly stolen from Artisan Lighthouse