Toast Seems to be The Hardest Word

I look at the brunch menu in my hand as if it is written in Sanskrit.

What is ‘endive’? 

Why ‘avocado bruschetta’ and not just regular bruschetta?

Why a ‘3-egg omelette’? Who needs three eggs in the morning? Isn’t that awfully inflexible? What happened to poached eggs and toast?

I flip the menu over and finally find what I was looking for; namely scrambled eggs on toast, goujons, french toast, and bacon butties. They are clustered together in a section marked disdainfully as only for ‘Under 12’s’.

Ridiculous, I think, flapping the menu in distress. Are omelettes now considered more mature than scrambled eggs? Does the way you like your eggs say something fundamental about you as a person? I have obviously missed the memo explaining that when you reach the age of 12 you have to put away childish things and scrambled eggs on toast.

I place the menu flat on the table as the waiter approaches and look up at his expressionless face.

“Hi! Could I order off the under 12’s menu please?”

He blinks slowly at me. His mouth gives the tiniest twitch, one corner of his mouth twisting ever so slightly downwards. I don’t know it yet, but this is actually the only bit of expression I will manage to elicit from him over the course of brunch.

“Yeeees.”

The tone is so flat it’s hard to know how he feels about this lapse in protocol.

“Oh great!” I beam. His face stays stony. “Can I… err… Can I get the scrambled eggs on toast then please?”

His eyes flick down to the notepad in his hand.

“Scrambled eggs,” he intones. I wondered whether he is repeating it to himself or asking me to make sure it’s correct. I decide I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference either way. This man had clearly never heard of inflections.

“Yep!” I say, just to be clear. I point at the menu item. “Scrambled eggs on toast!”

He moves on with the order, and I sit back, happy to have avoided the fate of the adult omelette. Honestly. Nobody needs three eggs in a single meal. Especially not considering my cholesterol levels.

Fifteen minutes later, my scrambled eggs appear.

…Only my scrambled eggs appear.

My (at least) three-egg serving of scrambled eggs has somehow been wrangled into a circular form in the middle of my plate. It looks like a giant flan gone horribly wrong. An inedible amount of watercress has been strewn across the plate with reckless abandon.  I say a quick prayer for any under-12 who has ever been faced with this monstrous portion of scrambled egg.

There is no sign of toast.

I silently accept the scrambled egg cake, eyeing it warily. I feel like I have suddenly been entered in an all-the-eggs-you-can-eat competition. I am unprepared. I tentatively tear into the quivering yellow creation with my fork. Three bites in, I decide I cannot continue without toast to break up the monotony of all that egg. I make my way over to the waiter, who is across the room standing next to the bar.

“Hi!” I smile. He turns towards me. He does not return the smile. He looks neither surprised nor annoyed to see me there. His face simply does not move at all.

I forge ahead.

“Can I please get some toast?”

There is a brief pause as the words float through the air, enter his ears, and swim around in his mind. He digests them, and then his lids lift just enough for his eyes to find mine.

“Bread.”

Again, question or statement? Hard to know. I hedge my bets.

“… Toast…?” I say hopefully.

He gives the smallest of nods and then walks stiffly away.

Five minutes later, as I am busy deconstructing the egg abnormality, he reemerges and approaches us with a wooden walk that might scream ‘I WOULD RATHER BE PICKING JAGGED SPLINTERS OUT FROM UNDER MY FINGERNAILS’ or else might just be his strangely inflexible natural gait. It really could be either. He bends slightly at the waist and puts down a plate containing two small circular slices of bread.

I stare at it, nonplussed.

“Thanks” I eventually mutter, more out of reflex than genuine gratitude. I am still staring at the bread. Our waiter receives my thanks without so much as a glimmer of acknowledgment, and immediately travels back to his spot beside the bar. His face – for a change – betrays nothing at all.

My mind ticks over as I butter the bread. I did ask for toast, I think to myself as my knife gouges the soft white crumb. Three times! Toast! Is toast an uncommon request now? Is this an unspoken rule like the adult omelettes? Am I that out of the loop? Is there some other way to ask for toast? Did he do it on purpose? Is he over there now, laughing at my futile attempts to get a regular, normal, single portion of scrambled eggs on toast?

I surreptitiously eye him up. He is standing stock still, staring at a light fixture, his face an impressive blank. No, I decide. This man is clearly not capable of such a stretch in emotional range.

Baffled, I eat my bread discs. I leave nothing but the watercress behind, and briefly wonder if it’s possible to overdose on scrambled eggs.

Then I pay and, because I’m a sucker, I tip him the standard 10%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The To Do List

supervision-chameleon

There are days when the To Do list actually gets longer rather than shorter.

You add to the list quicker than you can check things off, and it grows and grows until you can practically hear the high-pitched whine of pressure building in your head. On the best of days, adulting seems like an endless To Do list, both in  the small sense (go to the shop, send your mail, etc.) and the big sense (get a job, buy a house, etc.). It can be quite demoralising, because no matter how fast you barrel through your list of weekly tasks, there are always other, bigger items on the list. Existential items. Items that require thought and planning and luck and money and, really, items that may never get ticked off.

And how mildly infuriating is that?

I can’t stand leaving boxes unchecked.

There are, of course, plenty of unchecked boxes in my life, both big and small. The smaller ones are the ones really bothering me at the moment, because while one hand is typing, the other is scooping an errant kitten (Maya) off the dining table and I’m nudging the other (Oscar) with my foot in an effort to stop him from chewing my laptop charger cable. No sooner have I turned my back to put on a load of laundry than Maya is abseiling down the backs of the chairs, and I haven’t even made contact with the chair before Oscar is trying to break into the bedroom.

Supervision is aptly named, because I would indeed need super vision – and ideally eyes that could rotate independently on the side of my skull, like a chameleon – to be able to keep track of these two furry kamikazes.

…And so my list grows longer, and the high-pitched whine gets louder, and I start to feel itchy in my own skin, like there aren’t enough hours in the day and everything is difficult and actually, maybe I should just throw out all of my belongings because at least then there would be no laundry to do and no tidying to finish and I mean, do I even need clothes anyway maybe I can just get by with a single pair of jeans and a white t-shirt? After all, you would never need to match another unpaired sock again if you were just prepared to traipse through life barefoot. Shoe storage would be far more manageable. Our TV has recently gone to join the cars from The Brave Little Toaster, so we’re already (unwittingly) on our way to a more minimal lifestyle.

I mean… I’m just saying.

The only redeeming feature of this slow, relentless, drip, drip, drip of tasks, is that it leaves no time to worry about the unchecked boxes on my more general life list. I fall into bed so exhausted that I sleep through the night and wake up like a wind-up toy, my mind ready to move onto the next task. The items on the Adult To Do List don’t even get a look in these days.

And really, those are the ones that tend to keep your eyes open at 3am, searching the ceiling for answers.

Those are the ones to watch out for.

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What about you? Are you getting through your To Do List? Do you have an Adult & General Life To Do List? How’s that going? Do you have any To-Do-List-tackling secrets? Care to share…?