The Deal Breaker

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I thought he was cute when I first walked into the office. He had glasses and cute ears that pointed at the tips in a slightly elflike way. As usual, I imagined what our kids would look like. Any man I’d fuck, I think about what our kids would look like, You know, just in case. I had my hair pulled up into a sloppy bun and wasn’t wearing any make-up. I wore cut off shorts and my ex’s favorite t-shirt I’d never given back after our break up which was a little too big for me. I was sure that he thought I was fifteen instead of twenty-three. I was probably a few years older than he was. But, he was running things and I was here with the rest of the city’s youth (ages 14-24), looking for a summer gig until I could find a more “responsible” job.
Back from college with a B.A. in English and a negative account balance, I was in no position to turn down work. So when I received the call that I’d been selected for the Summer Youth Program, where they would place me at a work site and I would have a secured job for at least 2 months, I was not reluctant to agree to an 8 hour, mandatory orientation. The routine was familiar. Since the age of fourteen, I’d participated in the program until my departure from New York in 2008.
He directed me downstairs to the waiting room where I sat, freezing, for the next 3 hours listening to a woman with a thick accent talk to a room full of kids about credit, job interview attire and student loans. Looking around the room, my “I’m better than this” attitude battled with my humbler, broker side. I told myself that I could articulate better than the woman that stood in the middle of the room. I mean, come on. She used the word “talk” when she should have used “speak”. Things like that annoyed me. I should have been doing her job.
Eventually we were let go for our lunch break and I was glad to escape the frosty air of that room and venture out into the warmer, humid climate outside. I headed for the Subway sandwich restaurant instead of the pizza shop a few blocks up. I’d gained back ten pounds of the fifteen I had lost while away at school and was trying to make better food choices. While standing on line, squinting up at the list of five-dollar foot-longs, my pointy-eared interest strolled in and found a place on line behind me. I ordered my 6-inch turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich and waited to hear his order. Was he an Italian herb kind of guy? Was he one of those weird people that didn’t like cheese? Toasted or not toasted?
“Could you change your gloves because you touched the bacon?” he asked the server. He was Muslim. No pork. No bacon. This could never work I thought to myself. Is bacon a plausible deal breaker? He could be “the one” despite the fact that I hadn’t even caught his name. But I couldn’t see myself serving our future, brown babies turkey bacon for breakfast. What kind of mother would I be? Besides, I have watched enough episodes of Love and Hip Hop to know that this could get complicated. He sat at the table across from me and I thought about how silly I must be to not talk to this cute guy because of bacon. Then I took a bite into my sandwich and realized my decision was for the best.
I left that day with a job at a summer camp, yet another unflattering photo ID, and no name or phone number of the cute guy in the office. But I also left with the reassuring feeling that I’d always have bacon. Bacon forever.

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