Bruce Bellingham!
Where it all went wrong

I have been mulling this over: the notion of where it all went wrong.

I just figured it out. I was in Sushi Rocks – you know, that wonderfully sweet Japanese restaurant on Polk Street where all the people who work there are wonderfully sweet as well. It did not go wrong there at the restaurant. Hardly. They seem to wish me well. Bless them. Yet this is where it occurred to me that it all went wrong a long time ago.

No, nothing to do with the Japanese restaurant. I was seated in the comfortable climes of Sushi Rocks, watching the Giants when they played the Phillies in the playoffs.

A terrific chef there provides us with sake, words of encouragement, and few chuckles. Manuel Raigoza – he’s Mexican, from the Yucatan. Imagine that. He’s only 25, smart as a whip, and can prepare Japanese food in a traditional way. I can’t do that, and I was a cook at the Squire Room in the 1970s. That was a prestigious restaurant. I was trained by some pretty tough French chefs.

But I cannot cook like Manuel.

Does this not make America great?

Funny thing about the notion of Americans – most of these so-called foreign kids are more American than I am.

It’s great to know that people like Miguel have done well. My mom was an immigrant from Scotland.

So it all goes back to Sushi Rocks where I was watching the Giants the other night.

I got distracted while staring into space, and had impure thoughts about Velveeta.

OK, I wasn’t that interested in the game. I watched the commercials. One was about Velveeta. It was being poured over some nasty concoction of beef import. I learned a long time ago that I harbored impure thoughts about American cheese. Imagine a French-trained cook who loves American cheese. There are nights when I want to be wrapped up in American cheese, with the right sort of assistance, of course.

OK, Bruce, knock it off.

Well, it’s all true.

Imagine a sophisticated boy as I loving American cheese. And I am unrepentant about it.
I love Americans. Yes, and I am a lover of their cheese. I am a lover of much more than that.
You know, there are some things you never have to apologize for. One is pouring ketchup over everything. Or even arguing about how to spell the word ketchup.

Who would argue about the spelling the word ketchup? Get into a relationship, then you’ll find out.

Now, that sounds bitter.

I am not bitter, but I have some regrets.

It all goes back to Velveeta.

I do not have regrets about American cheese anymore than I have regrets about being American. But I may have regrets about how much processed cheese I have downed my gullet. Today, the doctors say I was a renegade cat. You think?

Truth is, I relate my bad food habits to all the good people that I have had the good fortune to meet, company that made me grateful to be alive, and sharing the beautiful, breathtaking moments that involved food that was bad for us.

Let’s face it, when you are falling in love, you will eat anything, drink anything. It is all secondary to the person you are falling for.

And fell I did. Tumbled, perhaps. If Velveeta was a part of the process, then I profess, “Guilty as charged.”

Oh, listen. I am not blaming the lassie. I was eating Velveeta long before I met this wonderful woman and before I had a heart attack.

Not to worry. I’m on a new diet. It’s all broccoli. Not as severe as you would surmise. I throw all that broccoli at my neighbors for the exercise in the wee hours of the morning. That’s a good idea, no? Well, perhaps not. They certainly look surprised at 6 a.m. Startled, perhaps. All that greenery sailing past their heads.

But I won’t be tossing that deadly, artery-clogging cheese around. Not on your life. No siree. I keep the Velveeta to myself, when no one is looking. That’s right. No throwing the Velveeta.

Yes, it’s all for illicit purpose; but then again, it takes me back to my tender years, when everything started to go wrong. What will we do to make it right again? I think the love part is a good idea.

I confess. I love it all.

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