I turn on my voice recorder and walk into a popular European cafe. They have one of those long communal tables in the centre of the room. While the table is basically empty, I deliberately sit across from a guy eating an overpriced sandwich. He has several facial piercings, including one through his ear. I smile at him. He tries to ignore me, but he’s visibly uncomfortable with the situation.
He doesn’t say a word. Maybe he thinks I’m speaking to someone else at the table—only there is no one else at the table. I raise my voice a tad:
He looks up at me slowly, his brow furrowed.
SMIVEY: “I eat gelatine.”
GUY: “Uh huh.”
He goes back to eating his sandwich.
SMIVEY: “Well, the thing is, I’m supposed to be a vegetarian.”
He ignores me, eating a little faster.
SMIVEY: “You do know what gelatine is, right?”
He looks up at me and stops, mid-chew.
SMIVEY: “It’s boiled bones. I mean, well, it’s that film that builds up on top of the water when you boil bones. They make fucking Jell-O with that shit. Can you believe it?”
He looks down and continues to eat, not saying a word.
SMIVEY: “It’s in all kinds of stuff, you know? Marshmallows, Skittles, Starbursts, even some yoghurt.”
GUY: “Hey. Buddy. Enough with the gelatine, OK? Did you even order anything?”
SMIVEY: “For the most part, I do try to avoid it. I won’t eat marshmallows or Skittles, but I can’t give up my Starburst fruit chews.”
The guy gets up and walks over to me, resting his hand roughly on my shoulder.
GUY: “Look, as far as I can tell, you’ve got some kind of mental deficiency, so I’m gonna try to be nice about this. I haven’t had a good day. I’m trying to enjoy my fuckin’ sandwich in peace. Now, unless you want to sit here quietly, I suggest you move over to one of the other 15 fucking tables currently empty. Got it?”
SMIVEY: “To be honest, I do sometimes eat fish, so I’m not really a vegetarian, I suppo—
That’s about all I could get out before the guy slammed my face into the beautiful reclaimed-wood table (unfinished, for a more rustic look!). I’m told he managed to slam my head against that table about three times before he could be restrained. I blacked out after the second time.
When I regained consciousness, I found myself in the back of the restaurant with paramedics surrounding me. The manager was so apologetic for my bad experience, he gave me a coupon for a free meal and even a bag of their famous brownies to take to the hospital. Of course, I couldn’t eat them. And it wasn’t just because I had most of my teeth knocked out. No, these particular brownies were Rocky Road, which means they had nuts in them… and marshmallows—motherfucking gelatine strikes again.