What I Learned From an “Everything” Bagel
By Mark Boyer
There are some foods that are in the sacred category. They can only be purchased at certain places where they have attained a level of perfection. If you move away, you then spend your life on regular pilgrimages to those places that inspire nirvana. Bagels are in that category for me. I know what I like and I know where I need to go. Those bagels, however, are not here in Mexico where I now live!
So along comes a guy who posts on Facebook in my local area that he’s now making and delivering bagels, and he shares his joy of discovery in how to make the perfect bagels. While I’m obviously cynical about this, I’m always charmed by the entrepreneurial spirit and figure delivery is at least a convenience. I order a dozen of his Everything Bagels because I like everything.
This guy messages me to say he’s making the bagels tonight and he’ll deliver my bagels at 9 am tomorrow. To my complete surprise he actually shows up smiling at 9 am and a lady driver cheerfully waves to me. If nothing else, this is a pleasant start.
I open the package of bagels and the smell of everything profoundly wafts over me, but I quickly remember these are not my sacred bagels. I toast my bagel and slather one side in butter and the other side in cream cheese. I take my first bite, and think this is not my sacred bagel. I distinctly remember how the sacred bagel is supposed to taste. Halfway through my bagel, I start to think this is different and yet very good. Then I notice that all that everything stuff is on the top and the bottom of the bagel, and so both sides are equally enjoyable. This bagel is different and in its own way is also perfection. Rather than continually seek that former ideal, I realize there is another choice in a new standard.
As I started thinking more broadly about the criteria I have used for determining my ideal for employment, marriage, purchasing homes, or whatever, I realized that often my choices changed when I experienced something unexpected and new. What was in my head wasn’t always as good as what showed up.
I ordered my second dozen of Everything Bagels a couple days ago, and sure enough this smiling guy showed up at the time he said and his driver companion cheerfully waved from the car. As I walked back into my home I had to admit that there is something wonderful about consistency and predictability, and there is also something extraordinarily delightful about surprise in Everything.