Mr. Old Fashioned
(originally appeared on the Yareah Magazine website 4/13/2014)
The dark-skinned girl behind the counter with eight vowels and only three consonants in her name looked up at me. I was next. If there was ever a time for finger-pointing it was now. It was show time.
I had twelve to pick for my morning presentation and any veteran salesperson will tell you that your choice of donuts can make or break you. To add to my stress, the meeting would include both flaky interior designers and hard-boiled engineers. Two entirely different groups of donut consumers.
“I’ll start with three old fashioned.”
Old fashioned donuts represented fundamentals. The backbone of a good box of donuts.
My eyes crawled back and forth over the racks. To include a lemon filled donut would be tantamount to calling the designers a bunch of squealing fairies. Same for the coconut guava. Anything with sprinkles would probably get me punched in the mouth by a grizzled engineer.
I had to tread lightly.
“Two more old fashioned.”
You could never go wrong with old fashioned. Old fashioned donuts are what built this country.
My eyes left the face of the apathetic counter girl and returned to the sea of choices. I wanted to show the flair of a glazed apple maple without the cockiness of a vanilla berry shortcake. My head began to swim a little, the sweet scent of sugar entwined with the intoxicating odor of coffee distracting me from my task.
“Actually, give me two more old fashioned while you’re at it.”
They would never see that coming. I was certain that both the designers and engineers were probably pummeled on a daily basis by blueberry crumbs, butternuts and Bavarian kremes. They were probably numb from opening box after box of brightly colored donuts, half of them with unknown fillings lurking within.
I felt the customers behind me start to grow restless. I didn’t care. It’s a man’s world and if I needed a little more time, I would take it.
“Why don’t you throw in another old fashioned. What’s the count up to?”
The girl, without even looking into the box, said “Eight.” Obviously she was more of a pro than I gave her credit for. There was no way I would have guessed I was already up to eight. I wasn’t making such bad time after all.
The double chocolate cake was out of the question. It would stand out amongst the old fashioneds and I’m sure fate would have it that there would be only one black guy at the presentation and everyone would wait awkwardly for him to take it. I’m not sure what I would do if he didn’t. I’m not a big perspiration guy but I would hate to put my deodorant to such a test.
What if I included one French cruller and I walked in to find two people wearing berets? Or one dulce de leche only to find three men sporting bombaches? The donuts that aren’t in the box can be as important as the ones that are.
It had taken me three months to get this appointment. A lot was riding on it. I had spent forty minutes at the copy place deciding which paper stock to print my handouts on and over an hour selecting a tie to wear. If you must know, I had finally decided on the one that was a parody of Andy Warhol’s soup cans except it featured numerous pictures of Austin Powers.
“You have four more sir.” There was a hint of exasperation in her tone. I found I was growing to respect the young lady. I could see myself handling the situation in a very similar manner.
“Understood. Now let’s see…” my voice trailed off as I was once again faced with a myriad of choices. A cheeky cocoa confetti poked its head up, the rugged powdered cakes stood at attention and the iconic jellies all fought for my attention. I was swimming in the deep end now.
Which to choose? Which ones would add that certain something?
“Let me just grab four more old fashioned.”
The girl stuffed the last of the old fashioneds into the box and then hesitated. She looked up at me. My eyebrow cocked ever so slightly.
“We have a special today. You get a free donut with the purchase of a dozen.” I heard a cacophony of groans from behind me.
I hadn’t planned on this contingency. The girl took out a small bag, obviously designed for a single passenger, and glanced at me expectantly.
I think we all know which donut I selected. A reverse Boston kreme. They’re my favorite simply because the name is steeped in sexual innuendo. I could hear someone saying it as a punchline. If that makes me an old fashioned guy then so be it.
“A reverse Boston kreme please,” I said with a small laugh.
I gave the counter girl a little wink, paid my bill and headed off to the big meeting.