My worst bacon memory

In the last month, two potential dream jobs have presented themselves to me. One is a bacon critic for Extra Crispy, a Time website.

I don’t expect to get it, because an insane number of people will be applying. The opending got a lot of press, so they’ll probably get 50,000 applicants. I do appreciate the many people who posted it on my wall and messaged me with the opening.

But I do think my credentials aren’t bad for this. I covered the first eight years of the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival for Juice and the Des Moines Register. While other applicants can claim to love bacon, I can provide links to dozens of articles published in a legit paper. Plus, it would make sense to choose someone from Iowa. We have seven times more pigs than people.

Extra Crispy asked for a 600 word essay on each applicant’s favorite bacon memory. I may have tripped myself up there, because that’s not what I wrote. An actor friend told me that if there was an audition that requested everyone wear a white shirt, he would wear a black one. It made him stand out from the crowd.

Plus, 600 words on a favorite bacon memory? Unless you had a bacon-themed wedding, or you named your kid “Bacon” and it was the baby’s first word and also their dirty diapers smell like bacon, those are are going to be some boring essays. So I wrote 600 words on my least favorite bacon memory.

And since I probably won’t get the gig and don’t want to waste 600 words that might only be read by one person, I’m posting my essay here was well:

My favorite bacon memory? My mom taking me out for breakfast on weekends and ordering my bacon extra crispy. But that’s a boring answer. Any perfectly cooked piece of bacon could be my favorite bacon memory. But my least favorite bacon memory? That stands out.

I’m kind of a bacon celebrity in my town. I covered the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival since year one for the Des Moines Register. I’ve also been a judge and a bacon-eating contest competitor at the festival. So when a local roller derby team asked me to compete in a bacon-eating contest at one of their bouts, I was all too happy to say “yes!”

I probably should have been a little more cautious. If I had stopped to think, I would have realized the venue where they skate doesn’t have a kitchen. But as with skinning a cat, there are many ways to cook bacon. Maybe they were planning to microwave it. I didn’t care how the bacon was cooked, as long as it would end up in my mouth.

I arrived at the venue and was quickly shuttled to the sidelines of the skating rink. The place was packed, ready to see me face off against a few derby girls. My victory was assured, the actual competition was just a formality.

Then they wheeled out the bacon. I wasn’t expecting it to be perfectly cooked, but adequate bacon seemed like a reasonable hope. But no, I was staring at a huge pile of hardly cooked bacon.

Not only that, but it was probably the fattiest bacon I had ever seen. I glanced for hints of red, but there seemed to be none. I was in a competition to eat a cold, rubbery, slightly salty plate of fat.

It was like trying to make a meal of a blubbery, horrible, unending pile of chewing gum. Everyone watched as we tried to choke down some of the bacon. Time slowed to a crawl. It seemed like the pain would never end. After an eternity, the buzzer sounded. I had not won. But did I really want to be the person who had eaten the most of… that?

Once upon a time, I probably would have said that any bacon is good bacon. Especially when it’s free. But it was a naive man who thought that. When bacon goes wrong, it goes very wrong.

I slunk into the parking lot. My dreams of a bacon-filled evening had been squashed. I found the nearest drive through and consoled myself with a bacon cheeseburger. I had to find edible bacon to wash the horror out of my mouth and mind.

Someday I’ll find a bacon that can truly erase the memories of that night, drizzled in maple syrup on my plate of pancakes, or sitting astride a glorious burger. It will wrap it’s sweet and salty arms around me and whisper “It’s Ok, Joe. Everything is OK now.”

Until that happens, I must continue my search for the healing bacon.


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