Issue #45, March 2003

 

 



 




BREAKFAST OF RUNNERS-UP

as told to P. S. Ehrlich
 

(Yawn.)  Morning!  If it is, still.  I’m “borrowing” one of your T-shirts, if you don’t mind.  Hey, don’t you have any red ones?  Well snort!  I guess I can make do with off-white.  Yours are nice ‘n’ roomy on me, at least, and long enough to Preserve My Modesty, which sounds awfully oldmaidish and pickleminded when you think about it.

(Let me know, by the way, if you find where I slung my underpants last night.)

Where are you anyway, the kitchen?...  What are you burning in here?  Are you trying to make me breakfast?  How sweet and thoughtful!  And dangerous—back away from that stove, NOW.  (Groan.)  Oh dear dear dear my my my tut tut tut hmmmm.  Bachelor cooking!  I hate to break this to you, honey—you make beautiful bacon but not out of bed, alas.  (Yes, I said “Alas!”  I was a theater major for almost two years, I’m entitled.)

Well, never mind, it’s the sweet ‘n’ thoughtful that counts.  Bend down here a sec...  (Smooch)  Notice my minty-freshness—I told you I always brush my teeth before breakfast.  (You might want to try it sometime.)

Anyway:  We just happen to have a champeen frycook on hand, willing and able to concoct us a first-place blue-ribbon gold-medal chowdown.  Where do you keep your choicest edibobbles?

This has got to be the unhappiest-looking icebox I’ve ever stuck my head into.  Think how vacant and frustrated it must feel, when by rights it ought to be crammed to its little lightbulb with wholesome nourishment.  Anything down here in the crisper?...  HEY!!  Quit groping, you turk!  Never, never paw a master chef when she’s rummaging inside your refrigerator, unless you’ve been explicitly invited!  Suppose I’d been holding this dozen eggs just now or a priceless Ming china vahzz or something—there’d be smithereens all over your linoleum.

Oh very funny—“Looking for my little lightbulb”—chortlety chort.  Well you can just keep wondering whether it stays on when I cross my legs, Mr. Smartyapple.

Back to business:  We’ve got what’s left of the bacon and some miraculously unbroken eggs.  What else?  No pancake mix, no frozen waffles—yet here’s a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth—I won’t ask what you get up to with her...  Oh, French toast?  Of course, you having that parleyvoo background and all.  Plus half a loaf left of that fine French bread—day-old is perfect!  Give me a good slicer-chopper; we need nice thick slices.

Hey, what’s that up on that high shelf?  Be tall and reach it down for me...  Oh my God, it’s a cast-iron skillet!  Oh, this is what I call a heavy-duty beauty!  Oh, and it’s seasoned exactly right!  Oh, I’ve got to sit down for a second!...  Why aren’t you excited?  Don’t you understand?  That Teflon thing you’ve got on the stove is just an old pan to fry stuff in, but this!  This!!  This is a precision implement, the sort that gets passed down through generations!  I could tell right away it must be an old family heirloom!  My mom and Aunt Ollie divvied up all my Gramma’s cast-iron cookware between them, and I didn’t get anything, and I’ll have to wait till they both “go” before any of it comes to me—but now!  Now!!  Now I feel like Sweeney Todd when he found his barber razors:

“AT LAST, MY ARM IS COMPLETE AGAIN!!!”

Okay!  Make way for the Gropable Gourmet!

I’m going to make you my famous Paris When It Sizzles three-in-one breakfast special.  This is the same French toast sandwich that Cleopatra first fried up for Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and so on and so forth—or maybe it was Mrs. Shakespeare who invented it, with her second-best bread.  (Hee hee!)

Now have we got everything?  Bread and bacon, eggs and oil, milk and Mrs. Butterworth—awreet!  I don’t suppose you have such a thing as cinnamon or powdered sugar in this so-called kitchen?  Never mind, we can survive without them this once—but add both to the list—we’re going to go clean out a Safeway or two this afternoon.

Now, I need a big bowl to mix the batter and dip the bread.  No, that’s a saucer!  I said a big bowl.  (And when I’m cooking, size DOES matter, Mister.)  Yes—that one’ll do...  [Julia Child voice:]  “Whenever a recipe says to beat something with a fork, I give it a regular ass-whuppin’...”  Some people would add vanilla at this point.  (Add that to the list.)  Is that Teflon pan clean yet?  Okay, a little oil over medium heat...  Now we dip ‘n’ flip our slices, coating but not soaking each side...  Into the pan with ‘em, get ‘em all goldily toastily brown...  And down to the oven they go, to keep warm till their innards are ready.  And now, at last, we turn to The Skillet—

(Ooh lookit!  Nipple alert!)

(No, that doesn’t mean grope season’s reopened—Hey! go stand over there!  And hand me that ovenmitt with your mitt out of it and kept to yourself till I tell you otherwise if you please.)

Tra la la—look how the bacon strips take to This Skillet!  How proud and glad their piggy would be to see how they sizzle—ow!  Feel how they sizzle, too!  This off-white T-shirt of yours is a bonafide grease magnet.  What I need is a cute little spatter-resistant red leather apron.  I bet I could coax RoBynne O’Ring into making me one—if somebody’ll provide her top-quality material, hint hint.  Oh yes, RoBynne’s a semipro seamstress—makes a lot of those bitchen outfits she runs around in, and can alter things till you’d never guess what they started out as.  She once took this ordinary yellow raincoat and by the time she was finished with it, every kinkette in town would’ve been proud to put it on.  If they could—it takes two of us helping her just to wrestle it onto RoBynne.  But it’s got a hidden safety catch that can spring her right out of it.  She calls it her “Chiquita Peel.”

(Hey, do you have any bananas?  Well add them to the list.)

Okay now:  Bacon onto paper towels...  Drain most of the grease out of The Skillet, leaving just enough to sunny-side-up a couple more eggs...  Have you got the plates ready?  Okay then, here comes the toast:  A slice on each—an egg on top—then a couple strips of bacon—cover with the other slices—there!  Take those on out to the table while I rinse off The Skillet.  (Ah yes my darling angel, no nasty detergent will e’er mar your rustfree surface, not while I’m around...)

Awreet!  Isn’t this a humdinger of a breakfast?  [To the tune of “Moon River”:]

                                                Hum DINGER,
                                                Service with a smile!
                                                I’ll sing to you a-while we eat.

                                                And better by far THAN the sound
                                                Of hammers when they pound,
                                                Or Huckleberry Hound—

                                                Hum Dinger and me.

My Gramma loved Andy Williams, she had all his albums.  I never cared for him much myself—he had weird hair, like a Ken doll.  Hunh?  What’s Audrey Hepburn got to do with it?  Oh shut up and pass me the syrup.  Come here, Mrs. Butterworth...  Oh she does not look like a “medieval tomb effigy”—quit thinking like an art history teacher!  She’s obviously Oscar’s mother—you know, the Academy Awards statue.  Sure!  Mrs. Butterworth must’ve raised Oscar and Emmy and Tony and Grammy and all the other mimis.  Probably as their foster mom, since they get handed over to so many people every year.

OH this tastes good!

And I do say so myself.

(Chomp.  Chomp.  Chomp.  Slurp.)

Yum!  I don’t often get to enjoy breakfast.  Weekdays, it’s all I can do to get myself out of bed and washed and brushed and dressed and made-up and to work.  So I’m usually starving by lunchtime.  Weekends, I’m seldom awake before noon, so “bruncheon” tends to be my earliest meal then too.  But Gramma, you know, drilled it into me about the Most Important Meal of the Day, and those who skip it being likely to dawdle tardily through life.  So it’s like there’s this cosmic truant officer guilt-tripping me every morning.  And who needs that when you’re the kitchen champ, the Top Chiquita, chowing down a homemade Paris When It Sizzles with your own best sweetheart?

Hey... you know what?

I think this might be the very first time I’ve had morning-after breakfast with a guy.

Yes you should feel honored, and unique too:  Most men are in-and-out-and-up-and-gone.  So I really need a souvenir of this momentous occasion—what should it be?  Your greasy T-shirt doesn’t qualify, and neither do my panties if we find where they got slung, and certainly not The Skillet—that’s practically jewelry!  No, I just want a simple little homespun heartwarming soulgroping keepsake...

Mrs. Butterworth!  ExACTly!  “I accept this syrup bottle on behalf of all the Runners-Up and Honorable Mentions and Miss Congenialities, down through the generations!”

You know, you’ve got a little bit of Butterworth on the end of your nose...

(Smooch.)

Okay!  Wanna go play a fresh round of pigs-in-a-blanket?  Two oinks out of three?  If not three out of five—if not five out of seven—

(Nice Girls may finish last, but Good Girls finish multiple times....)

 

P. S. Ehrlich 2003-2010

 



 
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