My mom has told me the story of flying back from New York with knishes (the whole plane smelled like them!). I was in Austin with my dad when he bought a Styrofoam ice chest so the brisket would make it back OK. We annually bring pasta and coffee to our relatives in Tennessee. One time I wrapped up the leftovers from Carnegie Deli, put them in my big purse, went to a show on Broadway, and the drove back upstate with them. (And let's be honest- left overs is an unfair term here- we ate on these for a few days after). If there's some amazing food from somewhere else, why not travel with it so you can share it with someone you love?
I put this familial theory to practice recently when I decided to bring my coworkers a box of doughnuts from Portland. That's right- doughnuts. From Oregon to Louisiana. These weren't just any doughnuts, they were Voodoo Doughnuts ("The magic is in the hole!"). And they were delicious. And they were in a HUGE PINK BOX. And were they worth it? I'm not sure.
I should have realized what I had gotten myself into when I returned to my hotel with the huge pink box and, during the one block walk, no less than three people nudged someone else to point out the Voodoo Doughnuts. "Look son, look what she's got." I smiled and kept going.
Things somewhat started to sink in when I was in the security line in the airport. People started to talk to me about my doughnuts. And the horrible thing was the line wrapped around itself so it would be the same people talking to me when the line moved up enough that we were eye to eye again. It would go like this:
- First encounter-- "OOOOHHH, Voodoo Doughnuts. My favorite is the Grape Ape."
- Second encounter-- "So where are you taking those doughnuts?"
- Third encounter-- "New Orleans, hm? I've never been there. My friend went once. They liked it."
One woman, whose strong suit was not discretion, nudged her husband and pointed at me. "THAT'S where the smell is coming from." As she said this, she made a face like she had just stepped in a pile of T-rex shit. Really? I know sweets are not everyone's thing- but was the confectionery aroma that offensive?
I made it through security and walked my huge pink box to a restaurant. While waiting for my food, a guy approached me.
"Can I see your doughnuts?"
I half-smiled trying to figure out if he was joking.
"I've heard all about Voodoo but I've never seen them in person."
I put my bag down so I could handle the box with two hands and unhooked the cover.
A woman rushed in.
"I want to see them, too! I wasn't going to ask you but I am glad he did!"
They marveled at my bounty.
I kind of felt like a proud parent.
They thanked me and we all went on our way.
I made it over to my gate and it continued. My forearm ached as I balanced the big ass pink box and made small talk about pastries. I really just wanted to sit down and eat my lunch. I didn't want to talk about the doughnuts anymore.
Finally, I had enough. I moved away from everyone and called my Dad.
"I'll never make this mistake again."
"People are TALKING to me. Non stop. They want to see the doughnuts. They want to ask about the doughnuts. They all want to make jokes about the doughnuts- I'll buy the whole box from you for $50. If you need to use the bathroom, I'll watch them for you- wink wink. I hate it."
I finally got on my plane and made it to my seat only after grimacing to three more jokes from already seated passengers. I shoved the box under the seat in front of me as quickly as I could.
When we landed in San Francisco, the fiasco started up again. The flight attendants confirmed the rumors as I deplaned.
"We HEARD someone had doughnuts on the plane but we couldn't figure out who it was."
I'd had enough. I made my way through the airport looking as unapproachable as possible.
My face and body told people "No- I don't want to talk," but some people were still brave. Their curiosity prevailed. They still wanted to see the doughnuts.
Enough was enough. I got dinner and asked for a plastic bag from the restaurant. I put the bag around the box and finished my trip with a huge pink box in a slightly opaque THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU bag. You could still see what I was carrying but the veil was enough. People stopped asking. Or at least, for the most part.
Turns out I had the same flight crew on the second leg of my journey. I got on the plane and the flight attendants started laughing.
"We have the doughnut girl again!!!!!"
Right- the doughnut girl. I started to be bitter towards my coworkers. They didn't ask for any of this but for some reason it was their fault. I had made it this far, I was going to finish my journey. But I didn't think any doughnut was good enough for this day of travel.
I finally got to New Orleans and while I was waiting for my luggage, I got my last observer.
"Voodoo doughnuts, huh? Yeah- I actually flew from Portland to New Orleans once with a box. I'll never make that mistake again."
He got it. He had lived it, too.
The next day, my coworkers inhaled the sweets. They loved them. And my fresh memories of discomfort dripped away---just like the sweet sweet glaze on the Mango Tango, or the Grape Ape, or even the Miami Vice Berry. Somehow it was all worth it.