Sunday, March 30, 2008

Food Review: Rustica

Have you ever been in a one-sided relationship where the promise of something good is dangled in front of you? And it's only a promise, and it's always just in front of you. You're seeing a woman, and you have one fantastic date to start with, the conversation is stimulating, the make-out session is long and intense, and the next time you see her... it's less. The conversation is okay, but you get nothing more than an anemic friendly hug at the end of the night. The next time, even less than that, but you can't stop thinking about how nice it was that one time and that's what keeps you coming back. How often would you return? How hard would you work at that to attain that one magical moment of niceness again?

Do you know the concept of the heroin monkey? It's a psychological treatment in which you keep a monkey in a cage with an IV in its arm and a button on one wall. The monkey presses the button and receives a dose of heroin. He presses it again and gets another dose; presses it again but there's no shot of the drug. The monkey presses the button a few more times and attains another dose. The next dozen presses yield only one more dose. Now the monkey is hammering furiously at the button, working harder and harder and receiving less and less. That is the poor state of the heroin monkey.

If these scenarios sound at all appealing to you, by all means you must find your way to the Rustica bakery, specialists in the diminished return. Half a year ago my beautiful girlfriend led me on a long walk down to Rustica to introduce me to a delicious baked good, their bostock bread. She scored big on this find because I was floored. It was so delicious, had excellent texture against the teeth and tongue, and I couldn't wait to go back for more.

We went back the next week, but they were fresh out. Sorry.

We went back a month later. Aww, they just sold out. Sorry!

I've walked down there (eight long blocks, southbound on Bryant Ave., not the short blocks in the perpendicular direction) seven times for this bread, for one simple slice of bostock, and they are always "just out" of it. It's not a casual trip: we wake up, get cleaned up and dressed, head out eight blocks to this bakery to request this thing they make every weekend but are always, always "just out" of.

Today I waited patiently in line (if you like babies, as well, you must visit Rustica and delight in the knee-high fog of toddlers and infants, everyone and their triplets brings their ankle-biters there) until finally it was my turn to order. I asked brightly, politely, "Do you have any bostock?"

The clerk tilted her head slightly, smirked, and said, "Sorry, we just ran out."

She smirked. This was funny to her, to deny a customer like this. It was pleasant to her, it cheered her up. Maybe all the clerks enjoy this little game, mocking the hapless souls who slog out to their café in search of this one prized delicacy. It's funny to them because they get a little boost of power, being able to smile in someone's face and deny them what they would like. "Sorry, we just ran out," they softly murmur, grinning in your face. They spin on their heel and go into the back room and draw another hash mark on a chalkboard choked with tallying. The board is labeled "Fucking Losers" and the girls just laugh and laugh at all the people who came in for bostock, which they offered once and will never have again. Someone jokes that they're going to need a larger chalkboard, and they la-a-augh and la-a-augh.

You have two choices at this point. You've trudged all the way out there, so you can order something else so as not to waste the trip. Hey, you're there after all, might as well get something else. You've come all this way, you might as well spend your money on something you do not want and never wanted. You might as well purchase something that will not make you happy. You might as well work all fucking week long and throw your cash at these smirking clerks who feed on your disappointment. You might as well.

Or you can do what I did and just leave. That is also amusing to them. I turned away, muttered something dark to myself, and walked back out of the store. Oh, how it pleases them to bask in your aura when you work so hard for something, are denied it, and have a tiny supernova of disappointment and loss explode from your heart. You can see them stand up straighter, their eyes brightening, their fingers flexing slightly the tiny orgasm it gives them to refuse you. They have to focus in order to not stumble on the words sorry, we just ran out but it's hard because their eagerness to achieve this endorphic thrill is pushing the words out, tumbling out like puppies. They want to bray this in your face almost before you've even asked the question.

So I'm not going back. After seven failures, my batting average is worse than that of the heroin monkey. They won't notice the lack of my income, but their "almost as good" and "second choice" selections of baked goods will move that much slower. Rebecca suggested we head out there earlier to buy it; I informed her if I returned it would only be to issue a few bricks through their windows. There comes a time when you have to look at what you're doing, assess your role in this losing game you're playing, and make the hard choice to bow out. It hurts, you're sacrificing a dream, turning your back on a beautiful memory, but it's for the best. It would be worse to keep playing. It would be worse if I walked down there for 20 denials. If the only reason I would go there is for the glorious bostock, and if they are always sorry you stupid asshole just out of it, why would I go back? Why would anyone?


Jeanette said...

Screw them! I wouldn't have gone back after two times, well maybe three.

Christian said...

It's really good bread (well, I just read that bostock is actually a pastry), and their other stuff is good too. I kept going back but I don't know why it finally hit me this hard to be met with failure.