19 July 2007...12:30 pm

On Toast

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The best part of my morning? It’s smelt like toast since I left my house. First it was the flattening of hot asphalt up Driggs, and then it was the actual toasting of bialys at the Atlas Cafe, which is where I go when the Internet breaks and I want my ThinkPad to feel inadequate.

One of my favorite stock adjectives for children (and those I deem socially immature) is “snot-nosed,” but upon recollection I’ve realized that I was most definitely a literally snot-nosed kid. Like, I thought that everyone woke up with a post-nasal drip-induced stomachache.

Another reason I was figuratively snot-nosed? Because when I awoke, literally snot-nosed and feeling kind of corrosively empty in my abdomen, I knew that my father would call upstairs in a matter of minutes to ask me what I wanted for breakfast.


He is doting, yes, but was also frequently unemployed and loves to eat breakfast himself, which meant that I was asked, daily, to make the felicitous decision between an English muffin, cinnamon toast, and, before my mother decided it was simultaneously time to tell me they contained gelatin and what, exactly, gelatin was, Pathmark-brand corn muffins.

The cinnamon toast was margarine on Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Swirl bread (still, as I type those words, choruses of my mother’s and sister’s and father’s voices saying “cinnamon swirl” echo in my head like the first words of Genesis, or something), sprinkled sometimes liberally and sometimes less so with white sugar and, of course, Pathmark-brand ground cinnamon. There were lumps where the grease and the powder would be thicker, and the toast would feel especially moist, and then I would probably over-masticate the bite and my mother would very slightly raise one eyebrow and clear her throat, the way she did when my elbow was on the table, and then I would swallow and have a sip of milk.

The toasted english muffin memories are less evocative, except that they came in the Thomas’s sleeve and the halves were unequal, so that a young snotty thing could always be sure to have margarine on the thicker half and Smucker’s peanut butter on the other. Both spreads melted. And cold milk in a peanut buttery mouth is a brilliant way to greet the day.

Toast smell continues to comfort me, especially when my Internet plays hard to get and the Atlas Cafe feels suspiciously like the South Orange Middle School cafeteria, except instead of flared jeans and friendships with Candice Calvancanti, everyone has MacBooks.

Sachar just told me that I should go to Supercore on Bedford. I said it had always looked a little too silver. She said her favorite order there was pesto on toast. Then she said “SYNTHESIS.” I love her.

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