“Will you be good?” my girlfriend wondered, filling her luggage with frilly garments and bulky cameras. She was departing to a Delaware wedding; I wasn’t invited. No skin off my braces-straightened teeth—since committing to monogamy, nuptials have lost their luster. Wedding booziness is wasted if you’re barred from bridesmaid flirtations.
“Remember: inside voices,” she said.
“Just wait until you’re a bridesmaid.”
“You are such the romantic.”
“Not quite,” she said, smooching me good-bye. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do this weekend.”
Readers, that was a challenge. Removing the girlfriend shackles means rebellion. But a revolt requires repression. What’s my constraint complaint? I frequent bikini bars and often crawl home like—and possessing the verbal prowess of—a toothless toddler.
“Itsh fer work,” I’ll mumble, before crumpling to the floor like a dirty tissue.
My pie-eyed antics are permitted. Instead, she’s bothered by my love of flesh. She’s a staunch vegetarian. Despite my carnivorous leanings, I’ve long loved the meat-averse ladies. My first was an ecstasy-popping raver. We’d spend evenings munching Tofutti Cuties—dairy-free “ice cream” sandwiches—and discussing factory-slaughtered cows.
“Meat is murder,” she’d coo, seemingly auditioning for a Smiths cover band. “Killing creatures for food is wrong.”
I’d nod, pretending to agree with beliefs as phony as the ice cream.
“Read these,” she’d say earnestly, passing me PETA literature. “They’ll open your eyes.” Translation: To get in my pants, you won’t eat cheeseburgers or wear leather shoes.
Thankfully, my current girlfriend prefers a more laissez-faire meat stance. “It’s your heart attack,” she’s fond of saying, as I stuff down another avocado-crowned pork torta at Rico’s Tacos.
“At least I’ll die having known true bliss,” I reply, pointing at her wan vegetable tacos, loaded with limp lettuce and tomatoes the color of chewed gum.
Meat. No meat. It’s our culinary Mason-Dixon Line. But boundaries were busted last weekend, as I adventured deep into Caribbean Flatbush. At just-opened Jamaican bakery Tastee Pattee (3122 Church Ave. betw. Fairview & Raleigh Pls., B’klyn; 718-342-7670), I discovered flaky patties stuffed with chubby chunks of savory Angus beef and wild salmon, a welcome departure from the typical baby-food filling.
“Hungry, huh?” questioned a hair-netted counterwoman, smiling with new-parent pride.
“Hmmph,” I grunt-agreed, brushing yellow crumbs off my grease-stained tee.
Continuing my dietary disobedience, I climbed aboard my bike and pedaled past Utica Avenue’s auto-body shops to Boston Jerk City (1344 Utica Ave. at Foster Ave., B’klyn; 718-629-3002). Outside the corner spot, oil-drum grills spew plumes of fragrant smoke arising from flaming, fall-apart jerk chicken and a rarity: spicy and juicy jerk pork.
“Why eat junk food and feel guilty?” the menu questioned. “Eat right and feel healthy.”
To feel healthy, I ordered a half-pound of pork served in Styrofoam alongside foil-wrapped bread. The fatty-chewy pork is polished brown with racy seasonings, which I licked off my fingers like an enthusiastic puppy.
“No wasting that tasty sauce,” said a fellow diner, likewise engaged in porcine rapture.
“No sir,” I reply, burping for manly measure. He responded in kind. Who needed women? This was living.
The next day, I bid adieu to the Caribbean and traveled to China via Queens. My destination, Flushing Mall (133-31 39th Ave. betw. 138th St. & Main St., Flushing), is a rabbit’s warren of low-rent shops selling $10 tight jeans, Hello Kitty tchotchkes and dubiously legal DVDs. Such down-market merchandise is matched by a superb food court, which slings delicacies ranging from hand-pulled noodle soups to incendiary Sichuan cow tongue.
Not feeling offal, I headed to the sister-run Chinese Korean Noodle and Dumpling stand outfitted with pot-topped stoves, a minced-pork mound and a teensy-weensy counter. CK’s specialty is boiled pork-and-chive dumplings served with crisp kim chi—a mish-mash owing to the ladies’ Korea-bordering Jilin hometown.
“Two,” I said, extending an index finger toward dumplings.
“Two,” a cherubic woman echoed, tacking on a flood of words. I nodded enthusiastically, my catch-all method for dealing with language I’m too lazy to comprehend.
Normally, one indicates an order of four or five dumplings. But at Chinese Korean Noodle, one equaled 18 albino beauties. Steaming before me, plump and oozing greasy glory, sat 36 porky treasures. I’ve oft-boasted of devouring my age in dumplings, but the logistics grow more daunting with each passing year. Concerning dumpling consumption, pleasure becomes pain much easier at 30 than at 18—a lesson that extends to whiskey shots as well.
Instead of crying uncle, I summoned forth my girlfriend’s parting warning: Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Employing my newfound mantra, I separated wooden chopsticks and, one by one, belly distending with each succulent chomp, deliciously disobeyed orders.