The new Grumpy column which will be out in the next issue of Tsunami mag. Unlike the mag version, you get to listen to a soundtrack as you read this tale of misguided romance.
Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose (firstname.lastname@example.org), and he has a problem, only it's not what he thinks it is.
Addiction can be a horrible thing. It makes you a slave. It makes a level-headed person change their habits and do things they wouldn't otherwise do. Addiction can ruin lives.
My name is Grumpy, and I'm a Bahn Mi-aholic. I love my Vietnamese pork roll. I love the crispy crust on the outside, the fluffy soft bread inside, the seismic crunch of cucumber and shallot and coriander stalk all so wonderfully juxtaposed with the cream-smooth pâté . I love the incendiary explosion of fresh chilli, the deft balance of salty soy with two-tone pork products. OMG, it's gotta be Bahn Mi for me.
Problem is, you start calling into the same place everyday to get your fix and strange things can happen.
It all started innocently enough. I saw that a local place in my new neighbourhood served Vietnamese pork rolls and remembered that I quite liked them. I'd had a bit of a thing for them before, so on a whim I decided I try these ones out. Ah yes, the memories came flooding back. So began my first steps on the road to ruin.
Soon the girl behind the counter started to recognise me as not just another random walk- in but as a regular customer deserving special treatment. Soon there were smiles and how are yous as our transaction got underway. Soon the thin spread of pâté seemed to become more generous – no mere scrape for this loyal customer; I, it seemed, was worthy of a luscious, thick spread that made my heart pound in anticipation. Likewise, the rest of this symphony for the mouth grew in quantity until surely I was getting the Mac Daddy of all Bahn Mi. I could feel the eyes of other Bahn Mi addicts on me, wondering why I was getting such royal treatment when they were receiving their pedestrian efforts.
I tried to restrict myself to one indulgence every second day but it was no good. I was hooked, and hooked good. Some days I almost made it past the bakery, only to be lured inside at the last moment. My Bahn Mistress' smile of greeting turned to a flirtatious giggle, her cheeks blushing as she set about professionally assembling my daily fix.
I knew things were spiralling out of control when one day, as we came to the dirty part of the deal, when I paid my $4 for her services, ever so softly, gently and I swear in slow motion, the tips of our fingers touched...And I don't know if you're an illusion, Don't know if I see it true, but you're something that I must believe in, and you're there when I reach out for you... Love is in the air, every sight and every sound...
But it got worse. How could it possibly get worse, you wonder? Like this: Lure, giggle, blush, Bahn Mi assemblage, payment, slow motion fingertip caress, cheesey 70s music followed by, “One moment. Something for you.”
Bahn Mistress has deposited a mystery item into a paper bag and slid it blushingly across the counter. I thank her and we smile blushingly and shyly, then I make my way through the thought balloons of the other customers (“Oh right – so not only does he get better pork rolls than us but now he gets mystery gifts as well.” “What's so good about him?” “What the hell is going on here?” “Where is that cheesy 70s music coming from?”).
Outside, curiosity piqued, I peek inside the bag: a doughnut. But given the circumstances, it's not just any doughnut but a Doughnut Of Love. And it might have been manageable if she had given me any other pastry (there were lamingtons and cookies and caramel slices and chocolate eclairs to choose from) but the symbolism of this Doughnut Of Love was unmistakable; she was clearly telling me she wanted to put a gold wedding ring on my finger.
This latest development happened just yesterday. I am due to be lured inside in a few short hours. I have no choice – I have to tell this Bahn Minx that I already have a Dreaded One. Perhaps I should let her down gently by making light of it and telling her that it's not her, it's Mi... no, that won't work. How oh how do we get ourselves into these things?