Rain + Falafel =
scene from Oliver Twist
I got a falafel sandwich today as an "emergency lunch" decision.
I had been recording music all morning, and, as often occurs, I had worked straight through lunch without noticing until a voracious monster suddenly awakened in the pit of my gut around 3pm.
I had no desire to break my concentration, but my survival instincts were kicking in. I decided to opt for the quickest possible meal available to me: a $3.45 falafel sandwich from the Greek snack shack a block and a half from my house.
It was raining hard and quite cold ("freezing" for Santa Monica). It was going to be a drenched slog no matter what, but I tried to compute which would be the lesser of two evils: sprinting through the rain or riding my bike and having to ride home on a wet seat.
Off I ran! The shortest path to the snack shack goes through a narrow alley that contains a number of living, vehicular, and structural obstacles throughout.
When running through cold rain, even in brown leather dress shoes, I instinctively switch into "NFL kickoff return man" mode.
I start weaving through narrow gaps between trucks and trash cans and hurdling the occasional drainage pipe just to feel like a badass.
45 seconds later, I reached the oasis of the falafel joint. 4 minutes later, I was holding my falafel sandwich. Normally, I take it to go, declining the paper bag which comes with that option.
I figure: I'm about to start eating it immediately; just put it in my hands and let's get on wit' it.
Without thinking about the torrential downpour, I similarly asked for it "to go", sans packaging.
As soon as I was holding the hot sandwich, its steaming open face pointing skyward, I became aware of the problem I now faced and had another decision to make:
1. swallow my pride and ask for a bag
2. eat it here after already having labeling myself a "to go" guy (thus losing my aloof appeal?)
3. get myself and the vulnerable hot sandwich soaked by walking.
I can hardly explain why I would choose 3.
It is only through pointlessly listing out those options for you, the forgiving reader, that I have come face to face with my own irrationality.
Literally, it boiled down to a somewhat uneasy look I got when I almost sat down at a table. One of the employees who was cleaning the floor out in the eating area met eyes with me.
He seemed to say to me, "Hey, man. You gonna sit there? 'Cuz I figured I'd clean the whole floor now while it's slow, and you'd kind of be in my way. You did say 'to go', you know."
I wish that I were at all fabricating my inner monologue. My confusion about the employee's motives was impetus enough to send me defiantly into the rainstorm.
The food won't get that wet, I thought. But it was cruel poetry as soon as it began — the steamy, sumptuous balls of falafel had no chance against the hydraulic artillery of the skies.
My only attempt to save their ripe potential was to chomp quickly and ambitiously. In between bites, I tried to hold a napkin as a canopy for the rain. It wasn't working. Whenever I would go to peel back more paper from the sandwich, the rain just pissed in its furnace.
I started holding my head only an inch away from the sandwich while I ate it in order to further shield it.
Meanwhile, it tastes good as shit. It's satisfying on two, epic human levels of experience: nourishment and warmth.
The cold downpour is a worthy adversary, but the fiery falafel orbs are granted safe passage down my gullet and into my core.
And here … patient reader … does the full circlage [sic] of my title finally become clear:
I realized what I must have looked like to others. You could never see someone more desperately self-absorbed in a meal than you would have seen me speed-raping this falafel.
This is the fervor that trainwreck-surviving orphans would have shown for the first potable soup-like broth they encountered after eight days of living in the bushes.
For the record, if you're making a list of the "finer times in life", [cold climate + hot treat] and [hot climate + cold treat] really belong up there with sex, peeing after holding it, and running back kickoffs.