I’m feeling ripped off. This morning I got up and went out to the bagel store for breakfast. I’d get bagels for breakfast everyday if I could, but that would get to be kind of an expensive habit, for breakfast. I ordered my sandwich, went home, had some coffee. It was great. It’s always delicious. I’m not feeling ripped off about this breakfast. I’m feeling ripped off in general, because I shouldn’t be paying anything at all for bagels, ever. Because I actually invented the everything bagel.
One time when I was a little kid my dad took me to the bagel store for some bagels. “And what kind of bagel do you want Robbie?” my dad asked. I couldn’t think of an answer. Poppy seed, cinnamon raisin, pumpernickel. That’s not true, I never ordered pumpernickel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody eat a pumpernickel bagel. If you ever ask for a dozen assorted bagels, they’ll never just throw in a pumpernickel. You get egg-onion, you get sesame. But pumpernickel? Never. I’d say it’s because they’re gross, but I’ve never tried one, and so I’ll just assume that it’s disgusting.
But on this day I couldn’t make up my mind, so I said to the bagel guy, “I can’t decide, I wish I could have a bagel with everything on it … an everything bagel.” And my dad was giving me one of those looks, one of those facial expressions that communicated how frustrated he was with me, just pick a bagel, Jesus, why did I have to take you along with me, you make every little thing more complicated than it has to be.
But he never got to complete his thought, because the bagel guy looked at me and said, “You know what? That’s not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all.” And sure enough, the next time we went to the bagel store, there was a hand-drawn sign at the counter that said, “Try our brand new ‘everything’ bagel.” There was a line down the block, everyone hoping to get a taste of that bagel, with poppy seeds, with garlic, onion, everything. Even salt.
Nobody likes salt bagels. Nobody likes them, but they’re somehow marginally more popular than pumpernickel, because every once in a while you’ll order a dozen assorted bagels and they’re throw in a salt. And maybe your parents bought a bag early in the morning, and you got up at eleven and your mom says to you, “Hey Rob, sit down, we saved you a bagel,” and you can tell by her poorly concealed smile that something’s up, and sure enough, you look down in the bag and it’s a salt bagel. And you hate salt bagels, everybody does, but you’re so hungry you decide to make a go for it, to scratch off as much of the salt as you can.
But those bagel guys really loaded that thing up with salt. Coarse salt, the kind usually reserved for de-icing the streets after a blizzard. And since nobody ever buys salt bagels, even the bagel itself, the dough, it’s just old, staler than the rest, they probably threw it in the assorted dozen just to get rid of it. And what kind of a topping is salt anyway? It’s a seasoning, not a topping. You’ve got to have a pretty dead tongue to find a salt bagel at all appealing.
But spread out, mixed among all of the other toppings, salt actually works well with the everything bagel. And so that day with the line down the block, we finally got to the counter, and I tried to get the bagel guy’s attention, “Hey man, you did it. You used my idea … the everything bagel.” But the guy looked at me with a face of, I don’t know, scorn? Fear? And he said, “Hey kid, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and then to my dad, “You guys going to order some bagels or what?” And I tried to get my dad’s attention, “Dad, you remember, right? The everything bagel?” But he wasn’t interested. In fact, the place was so busy, he didn’t even ask what kind of bagel I wanted, “Just give me a dozen. Assorted.”
So I didn’t even wind up getting to try one of my everything bagels for like another five months. It was torture. Everybody at school was talking about how much they loved the new bagels, how their parents stopped buying assorted bagels and only bought everything bagels, and sometimes they were getting bagels not just on weekends, but during the week, even on school days. Of course nobody believed me that I actually came up with the idea, that it was my creation. I didn’t even get to taste one until way after they came out, and so I couldn’t even share in the enthusiasm of my classmates without having tried what they were all talking about.
Oh yeah, and did I tell you what that bagel guy threw in with my dad’s assorted dozen? A bialys. Come on, that’s not even a bagel. I get it, it’s round, and it’s bread, but there’s not even any hole. Bialys are even worse than pumpernickel. In fact, I’d rather order an all-pumpernickel dozen than be forced to so much as look at a bialys in my bag of assorted. “It’s a bonus,” my dad said, “A baker’s dozen.” Please, if it were really a baker’s dozen, that would be the standard. You’d ask for a dozen and you’d automatically get thirteen. It wouldn’t have to be a sometimes bonus, a special treat. And secondly, what kind of a profession makes its own dozen with an extra bagel? If I were in charge, a baker’s dozen would only be eleven, and people would complain, “Hey, what’s the big idea? Where’s the twelfth bagel?” and I wouldn’t say anything, I’d just point to my own hand-drawn sign that read, “Baker’s dozen = 11 bagels.” That’s how you make money, not by giving away a free bagel for every dozen.
Man, but I’ll never get to try that out, because I’ll never have my own bagel store. But I should. I should be in charge of every bagel store, because I invented the everything bagel. They all owe me a cut, every one of these bagel places. At the very least I should get free bagels for life.