You were perfect. A yeast roll, medium-rare beef sliced thin, mozzarella draped across you, biting red onions ringed and tucked into the whole mess. Arugula – arugula! – the peppery foil to mozzarella’s soft hug. First, I ate the hot French fries that accompanied you. You know I love French fries; they would not stay hot long. Between bites I chatted with my best friend, visiting from afar, she enjoying her chicken salad on croissant.
French fries handsomely demolished, I ate some of you, but – too soon – I was full. And so I asked the server for a box. I nestled you gently in Styrofoam, your environmentally irresponsible and eventual casket. We paid for our lunch, and…and then I left you.
I forgot you.
I dishonored you, and I am sorry. You gave me so much, and in return I neglected you. I left you on a table.
I comfort myself with notions of waitstaff or kitchen employees noticing my folly and eating you in my stead. Surely those who prepared you did not let you rot in a box; surely they had more sense than I. I cannot bear the thought of your waste; you, so perfect a tri-tip sandwich.
The same false comfort eased my sorrow when TSA agents denied passage to the jar of honey I purchased on vacation 3 years ago. Liquid! More than 3 ounces! In my carry-on, you fool! I was a fool, indeed, and an innocent jar of honey paid for my foolishness. Each time I remember your amber perfection and the worker bees who toiled for you, I hope that a rogue TSA agent slipped your honey jar into her vest instead of chucking it in the garbage. Only she knows her bravery.
And you, carrot cake last autumn to which I added lemon juice and zest: I am sorry. Citrus overshadowed you. I was wrong to experiment so recklessly. And you, peach pie several years ago to which I added too much nutmeg such that my partner declared it “nutmeg pie”: forgive me. And you, lasagna to whose pan I added water (rinsing out the jar of marinara! Leave no tomato residue behind!), such that my partner labeled it “water lasagna”: I failed you.
I failed you all. But I choose now to end the self-punishment. And my partner can lay off. Today, publicly, from this internet town square, I sound my barbaric yawp: I forgive myself for my failures.